There is no doubt that the introduction of smart devices has irreversibly changed the way consumers communicate with the world and the way in which we communicate with consumers.
Smart devices have paved the way for more intelligent marketing and more personalised marketing strategies targeting not only the amorphous broadcast audience, but engaging with consumers on a personal level and even allowing them to engage with brands. Very rarely will any marketing strategy not involve some element of mobile or online communication.
A GSM Intelligence report projects the number of smart devices in Africa to increase from 160 million smart devices in 2015 to 540 million smart devices by 2021, an increase of over 380 million devices in a five-year period. Smartphones will account for almost 95% of Africa’s data traffic by 2021, up from close to 80% in 2015. Voice traffic over the same period will only marginally increase.
When we as marketers look at these sometimes staggering numbers we often make the mistake of putting mobile communication and mobile devices in a silo. We think of mobile in terms of platforms or devices as a means of communicating with consumers, rather than looking at the concept of mobility and exploiting the fact that not only is the modern consumer mobile, but they constantly want access to information while they are mobile.
A mobile phone is not just a device; it is the facilitator of consumer mobility which is arguably the defining lifestyle feature of the age. Mobility reflects a persistent striving to be connected; Connected to information, connected to people, connected to causes and being connected to things.
Constantly moving, constantly engaging and most importantly, from a marketer’s perspective, constantly consuming; and nowhere does this newfound mobility play a more significant role than in Africa.
Over 297 million people on the African continent are connected to the internet, and of that population, over 50 million users are on Facebook. Low-cost smartphones and affordable mobile broadband packages are bringing more and more people online in Africa, opening-up a new market for m-commerce, mobile marketing and apps. Think about this: 58% of smartphone users say always-on connectivity is important for their social lives, and 63% of consumers say it is important to be connected at all times.
Africa, like the rest of the world has a plethora of media channels available to marketers but when it comes to Mobility, some mediums that are better placed than others for effective communication to the mobile consumer.
Out of home (OOH) is at the forefront of the mobility revolution in Africa
Because OOH shares the same physical space as mobile consumers, OOH is the ultimate mobility medium, able to communicate effectively with consumers on the go, connecting with the mobile, the social and the active.
Across the African continent, we are seeing a migration from rural areas to urban environments. Further to this, commuters are spending a much higher proportion of their days commuting from place to place, and OOH is becoming more and more relevant as mobile becomes mobility.
Marketing to mobile consumers is not just about pushing messaging onto their mobile devices, it’s about strategically placing messaging at key commuter thoroughfares where OOH can bridge the gap between the online and offline worlds, giving online campaigns physical presence.
OOH creates physical points of engagement for these consumers throughout the day, and OOH can provide more targeted, personalised experiences when consumers are out and about.
In the mobility era consumers’ have an enhanced ability to research for products and services on-the go. The Ericsson Mobility Report reflects that 76 % of all internet traffic in Nigeria on a mobile device. This creates a huge opportunity for advertisers to use OOH as a physical platform to simultaneously inform and engage with these consumers in high population density areas.
Having OOH as a key media channel in your Mobility maximisation strategy drives three key activities.
Increased website traffic and mobile searches
Google, the world’s largest online and mobile platform has become a regular and sustained investor in OOH advertising. Google is one of the UK’s largest OOH advertisers because, whilst their online and mobile platforms remain their key focus, they now have a massive physical OOH presence offline that is able to drive online activity, engagement and purchases.
OOH Enables sharing, driving increased social media engagement
Strategically deployed and creatively executed, OOH is a huge driver of social media engagement, enabling consumers to share quality content, partake in campaigns and even have their own UGC broadcast on OOH or digital billboards.
Drives sales online and offline
Globally there is an incredible shift towards online shopping driven by the desire for faster lifestyles and the search for convenience and instant gratification – in the US, 65% of mobile users have purchased goods or services from their mobile device. The same can be said in Africa where there is a notable increase in m-commerce.
This will become more and more of an opportunity for advertisers as well placed OOH content and advertising can directly translate into online purchases.
The key to effectively targeting the modern African consumer depends on how well a brand is able to understand a consumer’s Mobility patterns. How consumers are moving around cities and where and why they are they moving. Using mobility to target mobile consumers will allow advertisers to place advertising right in the path of the mobile consumer, and well placed effective creative will allow advertisers to benefit from increase online activity, consumer engagement, online purchases and ultimately more brand equity and product sales.
OOH is becoming a crucial element in the mobility media mix, as mobile becomes mobility.
Alasdair Muller is head of sales for JCDecaux Sub-Saharan Africa.
Image: JCDecaux South Africa Facebook page