With mobile devices permanently attached to our hands and always on, Lucy Clark asks what’s next – and if the advertising industry can keep pace
It’s being touted as ‘the year of mobile’. Again. But this time, perhaps it really is.
For a start, the changes we are witnessing thanks to mobile phones and tablets are being dubbed ‘revolutionary’.
That revolution begins with enormous growth. Mobile phones and tablets are fast surpassing PCs as consumers’ favoured devices. Consumers are becoming so mobile, they are ahead of businesses.
According to Google statistics, 65% of us now have a smartphone, up from 37% in 2011. And 55% of websites are mobile-optimised today, compared to 20% in 2011. On top of this, 36% of our daily media interactions are with our mobile phones, compared to 7% for tablets, and 23% for both computers and for TVs.
And it’s no surprise that multi-screening is big. Google’s research shows that 77% of the time we spend watching TV, we’re using another device at the same time – most commonly a smartphone.
“If you think mobile is the future, then you’re doing it wrong – mobile is now,” says JBA’s chief technology officer Andrew Fisher.
Rob Marston, founder of Zeus Unwired, adds: “There are more people in the world with access to a mobile phone than there are to clean water, TV, a PC or a bank account. Last year was the tipping point when the number of smartphones overtook the number of traditional mobile phones. In 2014, there will be more people accessing the internet from a mobile phone than from a PC.”
And, in his foreword to M&C Saatchi’s new white paper Inside Mobile Advertising, Maurice Saatchi writes: “2013 sees a fundamental shift in favour of mobile technology. The PC will be eclipsed by tablets and smartphones. Mobile advertising means scientific advertising – the Holy Grail.”
In line with this, mobile advertising revenues are soaring.
Gai Le Roy, director of research at IAB Australia, says: “There was a 220% increase in mobile advertising revenues last year. We are expecting to see huge growth again this year.”
This is nothing short of revolutionary, according to InMobi’s head of marketing, Marc Fine. “Mobile advertising is going through a revolution, as the digital channel continues to rise as the most effective, efficient way to reach consumers.”
And ADMA’s CEO Jodie Sangster agrees we are witnessing a revolution – but advertising is getting left behind.
“As mobile technology evolves, consumers are being presented with new options to conduct everyday activities through mobile devices,” she says. “This is happening at such a rate that it is more a revolution than an evolution.
“However, in relation to marketing and advertising we are still at the starting line. Companies have embraced mobile advertising, mobile-enabled websites and, to a lesser degree, mobile apps. But this is really synonymous with mainstream advertising and doesn’t even scratch the surface of the capabilities that mobile presents to marketers and advertisers.”
Fisher adds: “Mobile advertising is seriously lagging behind other media. We saw the same thing with the web though, so I expect this will improve over time.”
Shaun Dobbin, chief executive of Gomeeki, agrees that opportunities are far from being realised: “If there is a revolution in mobile advertising, it is the clever marketers executing on the immersive, personalised experiences – not simply adding a banner ad to a homepage.”
Can we keep up?
It’s clear – the world is now mobile. And it’s going to get more so. So how are businesses coping? And are they successfully keeping pace with today’s all-mobile consumers?
Marston puts it bluntly: “It’s undeniable that consumers are leading the way and businesses are trying to play catch-up.”
Pete Birch, managing director of 4th Screen Advertising at Mobile Embrace (left), concurs: “Advertisers are in a game of catch up with the consumer. Most have dabbled with mobile and more and more advertisers are allocating bigger budgets, however only about 5% of the total digital spend is going to mobile. We will see this increase massively throughout 2013.”
The IAB’s Le Roy continues: “Consumers are definitely leading the way. That’s the reality of the world going forward, and consumers are really adaptable – they just want the content whenever they can get it, on any device.”
But there are big challenges, beyond keeping up with the consumer. For brands, justifying return on investment is a big one.
Sangster outlines: “Being able to justify investment in mobile, when it’s unclear what the outcomes or ROI will be, is a big challenge. With marketing budgets still tight, brands are placing dollars in places where they know they will see a return. But it’s usually the companies that push the known boundaries that also reap the rewards.”
Le Roy adds: “Marketers need to look at what metrics are suitable for mobile, compared to other advertising, and make sure they are using the right numbers and the right ROI metrics. For the market to grow, people want to see effectiveness – they want to know it’s working for their campaigns, beyond the novelty factor.”
InMobi’s Fine, however, disagrees. He says: “Some brands still think it’s hard to measure conversion. It’s actually quite the opposite. Through mobile tracking platforms, you can easily track conversions, including downloads, leads and purchases. Measurement of the performance of campaigns on mobile is really beginning to mature.”
Simply understanding the technology and the doors it opens is also a huge test.
Gomeeki’s Dobbin says: “Understanding the technology, but also consumers’ behaviour when using these devices, is the biggest challenge brands and agencies are facing in mobile.”
A lack of understanding on how to execute mobile campaigns is also a challenge, according to Chris Steedman, global director of M&C Saatchi Mobile. “Most brands have mobile to some level in their marketing strategy, however there is still a lack of education on how to execute mobile campaigns. It is up to the specialist mobile agencies to provide this.”
Relevant placing of ads is also a challenge. Birch says: “Blind networks and cheap cost-per-click or cost-per-download campaigns work for many advertisers, but for brands they mean ads appear in non-contextual environments alongside irrelevant content. Cheap rates are cheap for a reason.”
And Aisha Hillary, communications director at Tigerspike, adds: “Brands need to think of mobile in a broader, ‘personal media’ context – all devices that people have a one-on-one relationship with including mobile, tablets, gaming consoles, eBook readers and Smart TVs.
“We need to look at how consumers are using their devices, and in what context, and target advertising when it is relevant. When I am emailing, texting or calling, I don’t want to be interrupted by an ad. But if I am researching on LinkedIn or planning my next holiday, then please do send me suggestions and information that is relevant.”
JBA’s Fisher agrees that context is a challenge for mobile advertising. There are certain contexts where intruding on the user experience doesn’t work and in mobile this happens a lot,” he says. “It isn’t too far a stretch to conceive a future where Google, Facebook or Apple force you to watch an ad before you can reply to an email or receive a call. That’s probably not going to happen, but it reflects the current approach to mobile advertising.”
All these challenges mean mobile is still under-valued in the world of advertising, as Christie explains: “There remains a capability gap within marketing departments and agencies. Whilst experience is building, it is doing so slowly. This is one of the factors that means mobile is under-valued, and why traditional media enjoys a vast over-representation of spend – in some cases, undeservedly so.”
Australia is forever bemoaned as being several years behind the US and the UK when it comes to technological advancements. Mobile, however, is an area where the Lucky Country can hold its head high – at least from a consumer perspective.
Jason Pellegrino, director and head of mobile ads at Google Australia, explains: “Consumer-led disruption is one of the really thorny challenges Australian brand owners and marketers face. The Australian consumer is ahead of the US and UK when it comes to adoption of multi-screen. We have the highest tablet penetration in the world.
And Australian smartphone users are 5-10% more likely to take action than UK smartphone users.
“This is a situation where brand owners and agencies are not in the comfortable position of sitting back and looking at what’s happening over there. Unfortunately – or fortunately – many consumers here are ahead of the US and UK.”
But investment in mobile in Australia is lagging, compared to other countries.
Steedman outlines: “The US and the UK are still setting the pace with runaway year-on-year growth in mobile ad spend in 2012 – the US saw 77.3% growth and the UK 148%. These two markets are among the first to see the smartphone penetration boom and have been capitalising on this as a result.”
“Last year was the year marketers and the media industry started to invest seriously in the mobile market,” adds Le Roy. “But, having said that, Australia is still behind the US and UK markets in terms of digital market share.”
Fisher adds: “We haven’t really seen anything in Australia yet that takes advantage of a very large segment of the population having mobile devices.”
Overseas, the industry is also currently better at integrating mobile into ad campaigns, argues Le Roy. “Integrated planning for campaigns is happening overseas much more than here,” she says. “There has been so much talk in the market about how much people are using mobile that marketers are realising the need to have it in the front of their planning.”
Mobile technology is set to extend to devices far beyond the familiar hand-held phones we all carry with us today. In fact, mobile phones could soon be a thing of the past.
‘Wearable technology’ is a hot topic, as Fine explains: “All eyes are on wearable technology. Google has already shared its vision for Google Glass and rumours are rampant around Apple and the iWatch. This will be a very exciting new space and has a major impact on many factors, including health management, productivity, communication and general social sharing.”
ADMA’s Sangster also cites Google Glass as a vision of what’s to come: “Google Glass shows us that the days of the mobile phone are limited and the new, more connected device will take over. I think you’ll see more voice recognition – like Siri, but better – in the next 12 months.”
Other predictions include mobile loyalty cards and a surge in location-based targeting.
Dobbin says: “Mobile loyalty cards will replace the plastic card, and offer brands the capacity to provide an immersive, multi-dimensional experience, compared to one-dimensional programs that are around today.”
And Mobile Embrace’s Birch picks location targeting as the next big thing. “Location targeting is here and works,” he outlines. “Expect this to grow. The relationship between social media and mobile is only just starting to be realised and will also see major growth.”
Fisher takes this one step further, stating: “Advertising that takes into account your context – looking at what you’re doing as well as where you are – is a huge opportunity to redefine the way basic advertising works.”
Relevant advertising is all-important, he adds: “Consumers are putting up walls, saying ‘I will interact with a brand on my terms or not at all’. As a result, relevance is key. Providing a hook into a consumer’s daily life will help drive this.”
NFC, or near field communications, was always predicted to be the next big thing. But then Apple failed to make its iPhone5 NFC-capable. So, are NFC’s days numbered? Not according to the Aussie experts.
Fine predicts: “NFC will be big. It has the endorsement of all the major carriers and major financial services globally, and therefore I believe it will become the standard for allowing consumers to transact and connect with the physical world. The jury is still out with what Apple will decide to do, so all eyes will be on the next iteration of the iPhone to see if it decides to join the NFC party.”
Dobbin agrees, but argues the ball is in Apple’s court: “NFC will be big – if Apple supports the technology. Until that happens, I don’t see mass adoption occurring.”
And Big Mobile’s partner and group commercial director, Graham Christie, says: “Tesco, the UK supermarket chain, stated NFC’s time has passed. However, I don’t agree. The technology is getting less and less expensive, is already established in over 300 devices and is being bundled into 80% of new mobiles now. We’re seeing far more active testing and trialing on how to make NFC productive. Time will tell if a critical mass can be reached.”
Fisher, however, is more cautious. “The issue with NFC isn’t one of technology – it’s primarily cultural and behavioural. We don’t have a habit of going up to things and scanning them. Most people, other than mobile techies, feel odd going up close to something and scanning it with their phone.”
Predicting the future
With the world undeniably becoming more mobile by the day, mobile ad spend is inevitably set to soar.
“We spoke to over 100 marketers earlier this year about what they are looking at doing,” says Le Roy. “For smartphone advertising, they will increase their budget by just over 80% in the next two years – I think that’s conservative. And for advertising on tablets, they will increase their spend by 180% in the next two years.”
Therefore, it’s time to shift marketing budgets and not get left behind.
“Mobile marketing dollars are far behind the eyeballs and the time spent consuming mobile media,” says M&C Saatchi Mobile’s Steedman (right). "Therefore, there’s never been a better time to shift marketing dollars to mobile. The sector is only at the start of mobile’s explosive growth trajectory. By 2014, smartphone ad spend is forecast for a further 83% growth, while tablet ad spend is expected to nearly double.”
He adds: “By 2015, companies operating in Australia will generate 50% of web sales via their social presence and mobile applications alone. And in the future, Android will dominate the market. Traditionally, Apple has been the largest player in Australia. However, Android now accounts for 42% of the Australian smartphone market, with Apple’s share declining to 39%.”
The pace of change is predicted to only quicken.
Fine outlines: “The rate of change is only going to speed up as consumer behaviour and the technology leaders of tomorrow continue to charge into the 21st century.”
And Gomeeki’s Dobbin leaves us with a simple, stark warning: “Mobile is big and it’s only going to get bigger. The businesses who invest early will be the winners.”
Mobile is sexy but performance is key
By Jeremy Pell, sales director, InMobi
"Mobile advertising is only just hitting its stride in Australia.
According to Econsultancy, 51% of marketers in Australia already use mobile advertising and 39% will use mobile marketing this year to stay ahead of the game. The IAB has also just revealed that mobile advertising growth is outpacing other formats, growing 182% year on year.
As mobile advertising continues to grow, the next important step for agencies and brands is to strategically leverage mobile performance to deliver results. Measuring mobile performance has come a long way in the last year and as a result of a growing interest in big data, expectations for mobile measurement are high.
Econsultancy found that 94% of marketers expect their digital marketing activity to be more measurable this year. This demand has created an opportunity for many companies to develop metrics and has even spurred on the IAB to get involved, recently announcing that they will be introducing plans to standardise in-app measurement.
Unlike many other advertising mediums, like TV and radio, mobile allows marketers to measure results to the nth degree. Moving past the traditional click-through metric, marketers can track app downloads, lead generation (eg. click to call, book a test drive), geographical location and transactions through sophisticated tracking platforms. This provides marketers with a level of visibility that has not been available before and allows them to calculate conversion and ROI very effectively, helping them to reach real business goals.
Although mobile presents us with this great opportunity, there are still unfortunately only a handful of brands that are using mobile performance to drive their marketing strategy. When it comes to delivering app downloads there are even fewer, which is disconcerting as it’s a like-for-like medium.
Fairfax’s real estate site, Domain, is one of the very first brands in Australia to run a mobile-first app campaign using InMobi Ad Tracker and its model clearly represents the future of mobile campaigns. The strategy was to make Domain the number one property app in Australia. To achieve this, Domain, with its media agency Carat, ran static and animated banners on mobile advertising networks to drive downloads of its app across Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. Using mobile performance data from InMobi Ad Tracker, Domain compared results and efficiencies across all its mobile publishing partners and used the automatic feedback loop to optimise the campaign to target different states, devices, publishers and times of day.
The final results showed that the campaign achieved a higher than average conversion rate and delivered on the ROI. Fairfax is now starting to use mobile-first marketing strategies across more of its apps, leaving its competitors behind.
With Australians using mobile more than any other medium and marketing budgets under more scrutiny than ever before, brands and agencies need to embrace mobile performance, just as Fairfax have done, to deliver strong, quantifiable results."