Mobile explosion…explode already!!!

By Mayoori Kango, Supervisor, Advertising Solutions

Advertisers love smart phones

As advertisers we are always looking for new ways to reach our consumers, to break through the clutter and create an advertising experience that is engaging yet non intrusive. For a while now we have been hearing that mobile advertising might just be ‘IT’, yet we always seem to be waiting for that big ‘ah...ha!’ moment.

Sometimes it feels like yesterday that we were able to access the web with our little (or not so little) cell phones. When the first web enabled cell phone came about, I remember thinking that this was going to change the way we did business. It seemed like a no brainer… yet many years later the mobile landscape has not changed all that much; well at least until the iPhone. But I would be remiss in saying that things haven’t changed at all. They surely have in the last few years and we have seen growth in certain areas. ComScore reports show that the growth of the mobile industry is reaching its saturation point (2008 saw only a 5% YOY growth) but smart phones, however, have seen almost a 100% growth from 2007. This clearly illustrates that we should expect more people to switch to smart phones in the coming years (as advertisers sincerely hope they do). What is holding mobile advertising back is scalability& fragmentation; penetration of smart phones could tip the scales there.

The iPhone has no doubt set the bar higher and we see a mad scramble by others playing catch up. Now that the price of the iPhone has dropped to a mere “$99” we can expect to see more of these nifty things around.

Go Local with Mobile

Like any new medium, the mobile space is filled with challenges. There is a new vendor or a new application that comes out every day. Sometimes as a media planner you can feel overwhelmed by the millions of different choices, none of which can suffice in scale for the time spent planning or implementing. What makes it a sell is the “cool” factor more than the business sense of it. Mobile advertising is largely about being the “leader” in the space and is very much in its infancy.

The advertisers have perked up with the advent of the smart phones. Display, search, and even video advertising is picking up as a result. Big players like Google are starting to dabble in this realm with more enthusiasm than ever before and pricing is attractive as well. A YouTube home page take-over can be achieved at a fraction of the cost, and given that video viewing is the third most popular mobile (smart phone) activity, the advertisers can be justified in their enthusiasm. But I believe that the real potential for growth is in the mobile local search foray.

David Berkowitz wrote in a MediaPost article, “Over the next several years, people won’t use Mobile-Local to make an online purchase; they’ll use it to find stores. They won’t purchase airline tickets; they’ll find transportation options to and from the hotel. They’ll use mobile search to look for people, places and things.”

4 years later I can’t help but think how right he was. Mobile is a spontaneous medium. It’s about instant gratification and finding or doing things on your mobile just because you can. The mobile search platform and the mobile applications are well suited to fulfill this need.

Katy Bachman of Mediaweek reported that, “By 2013, local mobile ad revenue is expected to reach more than $3.1 billion, up from $160 million in 2008. Mobile search will make up the lion's share at $2.3 billion… In five years, more than half of mobile advertising, or 56 percent, will be spent on local search.”

The understanding of how consumers use mobile devices holds the key to success for an advertiser. What is required of us as advertisers is to keep evaluating the pros and cons of the various opportunities. We have to be aware, awake and tuned in at all times. The scales could tip at any given time and even though the mobile explosion surely seems far away; we definitely are on the precipice of change. If only I could curb my impatience. We as advertisers do live in interesting times!


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