How to make the most of the mobile ad boom

Nick Marsh is VP sales and marketing EMEA of international mobile ad network Mojiva. Here he looks at the growth of mobile advertising in the UK and the strategic and creative challenges it poses.

Clearly, mobile is getting brands and consumers excited. For the UK market in particular, mobile advertising is being championed by brands and agencies for its ability to draw in a significant amount of revenue that will buoy our struggling economy.

In 2012, British advertisers spent more money per mobile internet user than any other country in the world, so it’s really not surprising that mobile ad spend is predicted to grow by 90 per cent in 2013 in the UK to reach nearly £1bn. And furthermore, as mobile device adoption grows worldwide and innovations in mobile ad technology and rich media emerge, worldwide mobile ad revenue is forecast to reach $24.5 billion by 2016. This really is just the beginning.

The key question is what is fuelling this growth and where is it coming from?

Overall digital growth was only 12 per cent in 2012; so, is mobile cannibalising digital spend in the same way as digital is taking spend from offline? 9.7 per cent of digital spend was mobile in 2012 – compared to just one per cent in 2009. I would put a wager on this being closer to 20 per cent by the end of this year.

This is indicative of the shifting mind-set among brand marketers and agencies that are starting to have more confidence in putting ad spend and creative resource behind mobile. It is after all where consumers spend the vast majority of their time – as a channel it cannot be ignored. But, in my view, we’re still playing too safe.

To put that into context, 70 per cent of mobile spend is still just on social and search giants Facebook and Google. With Facebook mobile ad growth predicted to hit 333 per cent in 2013, and Google accounting for 50 per cent of mobile ad revenue (not to mention Mobile PPC set for triple digit growth) – it becomes clear that much of this increasing mobile ad spend in the UK is purely performance-led across the larger players. And this tells us that unless other digital companies adapt quickly to the mobile opportunity, they’ll be left behind in the dust.

Any commuter will tell you that in any given carriage there will be countless smartphones, tablets, eBooks – but few PCs, in fact PC sales dropped a record 24 per cent in Q1 of 2013. We are approaching the point where more internet impressions (and indeed, a growing number of transactions) are made from a tablet or smartphone than a PC – and this is set to continue.

Many publishers are already seeing upwards of 40 per cent of their website traffic accessed via tablets or smartphones as opposed to PCs and as this rises we’ll start to see brands and agencies having to adapt through necessity to survive, or be left behind in the ‘old’ new media space of desktop.

But how to get it right in mobile? Having a sound mobile strategy at the core of a campaign, not as a bolt-on, with its own creative concept and targets makes all the difference between a successful campaign and a wasted budget. Mobile should not (never) be treated the same as online – the same strategy, creative, targets simply will not work.

Despite what anyone will try and tell you (or sell to you) – we are not in a place where we can make big bold statements about what does and doesn’t work in mobile. It is still a new frontier for many brands and hence the so-far ‘safe’ methods of adoption.

However I’d argue that there will be brands that won’t stay safe for long and they really stand to reap the rewards – if your customer has chosen to go mobile first, it stands to reason that as an agency, you should be doing the same.

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