NEW YORK: Brands seeking to reach consumers in emerging markets may need to rethink their marketing strategies on mobile, according to a leading executive from Jana, the internet company.

Nathan Eagle, the Chief Executive of Jana – which was founded seven years ago – discussed this topic during the 2016 Collision Conference in New Orleans.

And he suggested that multinational marketers aiming to engage their target audience on smartphones in emerging economies should factor in the calculations often made by consumers when using wireless data.

"What's important to realise is that, while you've got these 1.3bn people who have Android phones living in the developing world, virtually all of them are [using] prepaid pay-as-you-go plans," said Eagle. (For more, including further tips for brands, read Warc's exclusive report: Jana brings free internet – and brand messaging – to emerging markets.)

"So every byte that comes in or out of these 1.3bn phones is taking money out of that person's pocket. They're paying for every byte. So loading your ad has just made that user poorer. And if they accidentally touch your ad, they become poorer still."

Given this underlying context, the decision to – for example – click on a Facebook ad is the subject of a deeper cost–benefit analysis than is typically the case among US consumers.

"It's fundamentally this reverse incentive for people to not engage with global brands – or even advertisers in general – on mobile in these markets," said Eagle.

To help marketers solve this problem, Jana developed mCent, an app which rewards consumers with free data in exchange for undertaking certain actions, like watching a video ad or downloading specific digital tools and services.

Eagle reported that mCent currently has 30m users. "We are the largest provider of free internet in emerging markets," he asserted.

And this audience, Eagle continued, may look favourably on brands which enable "people to consume content without having to incur any costs, and, ultimately earn additional free internet that they could use for literally anything."

Data sourced from Warc