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This month, there’s been a flurry of activity from mobile market forecasts, to the circus that is the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, and a few mobile industry milestones reached along the way.  So let’s kick into it.

Revenue and market sizing.

The first quarter of year is a great time for the research and analysis folks to publish where they think mobile is going.  For context, and this may be simplistic, it’s fair to say that the actual growth in mobile spends for APAC in CY13 outstripped almost all the forecasts.  You know when you travel really fast, things get a bit blurry at the edges, well this is the reality of mobile futures.  That said, the mobile industry was burdened with crazy inflated forecasting 10 years ago, so I for one prefer to see reports from the analysts to be on the conservative side.    

The headlines from Frost and Sullivan’s recently published ‘Analysis of the Asia Pacific Mobile Advertising Market 2012-2017’ paints a sector firing on all cylinders.  Their analysis predicts very strong and sustained growth reaching US$7.8Bn by 2017 at a CAGR of 22.9%.  This is an average, so when unpacked we see a spread of growth rates with markets travelling at a variety of speeds. Indonesia and Malaysia for instance are fast movers, and also we see China being expected to overtake Japan by 2017.  The big factors you will guess correctly are things like; ongoing smartphone adoption, burgeoning social media activity, services usage, the growing middle-class in emerging economies, and increased supply of video inventory in advanced markets.  Something that is really noteworthy I think is the top 4 markets estimated to account for a whopping 84% of the total market value by 2017.   They are Japan, China, Korea, and Australia.  It’s worth poring over the report.  Search on www.frost.com for more.

Gartner in it’s report "Forecast: Mobile Advertising, Worldwide, 2010-2017” has global mobile spends reaching US$18Bn this year, with APAC mobile advertising growing over the forecast period at a slightly larger CAGR of 30% to 2014. www.gartner.com for more info.

Mobile interaction when local.

I thought this was a good data point for retailers and goods manufacturers, and those looking to commercialise their airspace around shopping precincts.  Out of the U.S. the folk at xAd in their ‘2013 Year-in-Review’ report analysed user interactions beyond the ad and the relationship with proximity. So first up, locality led advertising most commonly elicits a phone call to that business.  This was the number one action across all campaigns, with especially high rates recorded for auto, telecom, travel and restaurants verticals.  The second most popular actions show a divergence depending on the vertical.  For instance, for the retail, beauty and pharmacy, and home and garden verticals the most popular secondary activity was looking up directions or getting maps or directions to a store.  As data management, targeting techniques, plus various new device and retail linking opportunities widen, mobile will become an ever-important channel for brands and retailers alike.  With real momentum in this space you need to adopt a “test early, test often then scale” approach.

Mobile’s effect on TV and short form.

From Nielsen, there’s evidence that shorter form ads are a likely future on ‘traditional’ TV with an 80% increase. Big call. The 15 second spot is pretty much mobile’s starting point for video ads, and the industry is largely repurposing 30’s – hardly innovative.  Even worse are brands that will know the ad can be skipped after 5 seconds yet leave the moody and wholly attributable opening intact to fill up that period.  Dumb. There is effort being placed into understanding the branding challenge as well as the neuroscience of communicating well under these conditions, but this effort needs to be dramatically accelerated or we face the likelihood of misunderstanding the effectiveness and consequently undervaluing the opportunity. Was it David Ogilvy that said there should only be 5 words of copy on an outdoor poster?  That sort of discipline is required in mobile today across the board. But actually I’m as interested in investigating the relationships between TV ad content on multiple devices in the living room in real-time, whether that be on the ‘main TV’ plus social TV platform, or other app or browsing environment.  Joining the obvious dots is the first step.

Smartphone tipping point.

There are now more smartphones in the world than feature phones – it’s official, so says Gartner. The tipping point was reached in late 2013 where smartphones accounted for 53.6% of all units in the world.  More mature markets are pretty much saturated with smartphones, so it’s developing markets feeding this, especially India with it’s sheer volume.  Of course much of this growth is due to Android and Google’s approach to partnering with multiple hardware manufacturers.  The data point on this is Gartner reporting that 78% of smartphones are Android powered.  So whilst we know there are downsides to the fragmentation resulting, we should not let this get us down, most can be mitigated, and it’s one reason Google globally partnered with the iAB around the HTML5 initiative which Big Mobile is a co-signatory and supporter of. Together we can conquer all.

World Mobile Congress 2014.

Lastly the WMC has wrapped up in Barcelona for another year.  This year felt light on massive step-changes, but the noise was deafening around wearable’s, many saying this years event was where ‘wearable’s went mainstream’.  Samsung’s aggressive roadmap for Gear saw three models, including a health Gear model, with also Sony’s Smartband getting in on this space.  More interesting for me is a low cost new entrant Bionym’s Nymi.  Avoiding the trap of looking like a prop from RoboCop, the Bionym team have developed this unit into a far wider and compelling proposition I think, combining great biometric, password security, and internet of things interactivity capabilities.  You can read CNET’s review of this product at cnet.com search for ‘Nymi’, and also get a take on what’s newsworthy from the conference as a whole from, T3 Magazine at www.t3.com/mwc 

Graham Christie, partner, Big Mobile Group

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