A majority of smartphone users in India are not aware of their data consumption source, even though a majority of them are cautious about their mobile data spending - 81 per cent of Indians spend] below Rs500 on their mobile data.
In addition, 64 per cent of Indian smartphone users do not exceed Rs300 as their monthly spending for mobile data, according to a survey by mobile VoIP app Nanu.
''With mobile advertising growing exponentially, there is an increasing possibility of consumers facing hidden data charges without their knowledge. We are glad that Trai has made meaningful efforts in this direction and we are hopeful that the operators will join this movement to safeguard consumers' interest,'' said Martin Nygate, founder and CEO, nanu.
He further added that excessive competition amongst marketers to promote their brands in order to get 'top of the mind' recall has resulted in uncontrolled usage of consumers' data further increasing the amount of data billing.
"It's important that marketers become more responsible towards their consumers and engage in non-intrusive ways of mobile advertising to prevent consumers' data from getting consumed involuntarily," Nygate added.
The survey, conducted over three days, witnessed participation from 14,154 Indians across 23 states and used smartphones with data connectivity.
About 64 per cent of Indians have indicated an increase of over 10 per cent in their data charges and 21 per cent noticed an unbelievable surge of more than 50 per cent in their data cost.
A majority of smartphone users in India are not aware about their data consumption source.
The findings suggest that 42 per cent of Indians are not aware of the fact that their data is extensively consumed by video adverts even if they are not clicking on it. Furthermore, 25 per cent are somewhat aware of the situation and upset by the brands consuming data through video adverts.
Interestingly, only 17 per cent are broadly aware of this, but never considered its impact on their mobile data expenses. Even after observing such an adverse effect of video adverts on increasing data consumption, only 10 per cent of Indians have installed ad blocking software in their phones.
About 89 per cent have shown reluctance towards consistently clicking on mobile video adverts while 35 per cent prefer to stay away from clicking video adverts. 54 per cent prefer selective clicking on video adverts.
''I used to believe that the mobile operators were unfairly charging us. One month, my data billing increased by more than 60 per cent and I got involved with an argument with my operator. Now, I realised that the offender is someone else. We are helpless and unfortunately, we have to burn through our data plans unless and until we see the regulator and operators acting on it,'' said Hardeep Singh a respondent from Punjab.
The survey findings have indicated that mobile marketing will remain ineffective in cultivating a positive brand-consumer relationship unless data consumption is made more transparent and the expenses are borne by the advertisers.