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Mobile on the move: leveraging a growing market
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Stories relating to the mobile advertising market are becoming increasingly prevalent within industry news; mobile has become a ‘hotter’ property. Given that the flow of marketing dollars still lags behind the eyeballs the channel attracts, this attention is a great thing. Mobile is undoubtedly on the rise.

A recent ZenithOptimedia report claims that in 2016 global ad spend on mobile will overtake print. This is pretty impressive given you can count on one hand the number of years that most agencies and clients have been spending meaningfully on mobile.

While spend is on the up however, theories still abound around the potential downfall of the industry. Consider the proliferation of articles relating to Apple’s decision to allow ad-blocking as part of their iOS9 update. My favourite came from Raju Narisetti, News Corp’s Global Senior Vice-President of Strategy, who warned companies that the problem was “real and growing”, and that they were “in denial”. All rather dramatic.

What struck me about this article, and others on the subject, was the failure to give a wider, more balanced perspective of the problem.

Apple’s update permits developers to create Safari-based extensions that block cookies, images and other web content, including ads. However, according to a multitude of sources, the amount of time spent on mobile devices in-app can range anywhere from 70 to 90%, with the remainder spent on consuming media via the mobile web. If we settle on a conservative 80% of time spent in-app, then this narrows the problem down to just 20% of the time, right?

Wrong. Android is still smashing iOS in the operating system stakes, with a recent IDC report putting their market share at 82.8%, with Apple on 13.9%. That makes Apple’s ad-blocking threat relevant to less than three per cent of the entire ecosystem. Throw in people using Chrome on iOS, those with old handsets, or those who delay upgrading for fear of bugs, and suddenly the threat of Apple’s ad-blocking seems a little less critical than the speculation might suggest.

The potential of mobile marketing is huge and the best starting point is to focus on doing a handful of things better, with more rigour. So, to truly optimise mobile ad spend and return on investment, here are five things you need to do:

1. Get under the hood. Unless more of the right questions are asked, the industry will not learn and won’t move forward. For example, more than half of all location data is predicted to be inaccurate. Location is everything in mobile. Ask your agency or mobile media vendor to articulate their technological approach to location. How does it permeate through to their products and targeting for your business? How accurate is their location data, and how does it inform their understanding of your audience?

2. Inventory acquisition. Work with vendors who are close to the source of inventory and who provide value through data and/or their proprietary technology. Ensure that your mobile media inventory is also being bought programmatically or better still, acquired through Real-time Bidding (RTB). Whether through a managed service or a self-serve platform, there are cost-efficiencies to be had, where you won’t pay more than you have to.

3. Keep things simple, and do them well. Don’t be sold by flashy presentations featuring the latest and greatest products. This approach is usually born out of desperation to get an IO signed. Stick to the basics and do less, well. This might mean only one method of targeting and/or inventory placement, so that your budget isn’t spread too thin. That’s ok, you’ll have more meaningful results in the long-term.

4. Leverage the mobile ecosystem. The vast majority of mobile inventory is global and app-based, as mentioned above. If you are only buying local m-site based inventory, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to reach your audience at scale.

5. Look at case studies and benchmarks. Ask your mobile media vendor for examples of campaigns run in your vertical and market. Look further afield to the UK or US if nothing exists in Australia or New Zealand. After all, they are more similar markets to those on our Asia-Pacific doorstep, so the insight gained would probably be of more value.

Mobile marketing is expanding and it is delivering on its promise, but the industry is still young – we’re still learning. What’s clear is the need to keep asking the right questions, so that agencies and brands alike can engage and communicate with customers in a meaningful way that also delivers tangible business results.

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