For at least five years, digital advertisers have been declaring that the year of the mobile is finally here. But it’s becoming obvious to even the most cautious of marketers that mobile is finally an effective platform. A mobile phone is no longer simply a portable version of a landline. For a vast number of people it’s a way of sending pictures, streaming video, storing music, browsing the web and reading the news. That’s why more marketers than ever before are trying to harness handsets as an advertising platform. Here’s why your company should be among them.
The smartphone marketing is still growing
Can we expect to see the smartphone market continue to grow or has it reached its maximum penetration? Well, according to a US-based study by Burson-Marsteller and Proof Integrated Communications, there’s still a great deal of scope for growth. It estimates that by 2012, smartphone sales will exceed PC sales. Research by the firm found that, within the US at least, 40% of iPhone and iPod Touch users visit the internet by mobile more than computer. Although an increase in the popularity of portable tablet computers might affect that figure in the future, it certainly shows that more people are spending more time glued to their mobiles. Marketers cannot afford not to take that into consideration. Other businesses are already ahead of you. Last year, mobile advertising expenditure more than doubled. That means your competitors could already have a foothold. Research by the IAB and PricewaterhouseCoopers showed that the market grew 116% to £83 million during 2010.
Advertising through apps is effective
Recent research by online mobile application store GetJar showed that 73% of respondents had downloaded an app that included embedded advertising and 60% of those people said they’d happily do so again.
Marketers will be particularly interested to hear that one in four respondents said they had made a purchase after clicking on a mobile ad.
Unfortunately, the GetJar survey wasn’t without flaws. Most iPhone users won’t be able to access non-Apple app stores, meaning that they will have been heavily underrepresented in the survey.
However, it’s certainly an interesting reflection on possible market sentiment. Jon Mew, director of mobile and operations at the Internet Advertising Bureau said: “It’s great to see more research showing how effective mobile can be in driving people all the way through to purchase. This is one of the key reasons that brands have increased their spend on mobile by 116% in the last year.”
Another interesting app statistic comes from the recently published comScore 2010 Mobile Year in Review, which you can download for free. It found that by December last year, only 37% of those who had downloaded a game app had paid for it, down 17% on the previous year.
According to comScore, this development shows that the value of a mobile app is not necessarily in the sale of it, but in the potential advertising revenue that can be generated.
But mobile does remain a challenging environment
Advertising across a mobile platform can still be a difficult and challenging task as the opportunities for doing so are so fragmented across different devices and technologies. That makes it particularly hard for marketers to measure success.
But as more people use their phones to get price and product information, it’s never been more important to capture their business through their handsets. There’s a real chance that your in-store customers will use their mobile phones to inform their decisions and even to make their purchases.
In its review, comScore urged: “Multi-channel retailers need to carefully assess the buying activity of their in-store customers and devise strategies to ensure that they maintain their loyalty if these customers shift some of their buying requirements from offline to online as a result of the use of mobile devices.”
Move into mobile now
So, you can’t afford to ignore mobile anymore but successfully marketing through it is a real challenge. It can be expensive, especially as it’s an extra marketing need – you’re unlikely to want to divert funding from your online advertising spend. In short, we’re looking at an interesting few years for mobile marketing and commerce. Many companies, especially larger brands, should be investigating now, before they are stuck playing catch-up.
*Image by Yutaka Tsutano on Flickr.