InMobi releases a monthly Mobile Insights reports that provide information on mobile advertising trends across Africa. While it’s great to have all the facts and figures on the market, what does it all really mean? There is a much bigger story hidden in these numbers that needs to be told. And the implications for the media and advertising community on the continent are significant.
Consumers are way ahead of us
The enormous size and growth of the mobile advertising opportunity cannot be understated. The InMobi network alone has seen the market increase by nearly one billion mobile ad impressions in just six months to 4.2 billion impressions. Twenty two percent of those impressions are in South Africa alone.
The real focus is what lies behind the ad impressions – namely, consumers. African consumers are increasingly accessing the Internet via their mobile phones as the cost of both devices and data becomes more affordable. Mobile Internet users are consuming a wide range of global content while local content players ramp up their offering through launching mobi sites and mobile applications.
While a select few advertisers are already capitalising on the opportunity to reach these tech-savvy consumers through mobile advertising campaigns, by and large the major brands are still lagging behind. These brands still on the sidelines will need to move quickly or risk losing mid- and long term market share.
The consumer experience
We hear often that the mobile devices in Africa are not capable of delivering a compelling ad experience. Consumers don’t agree. In a research survey among over 2 500 Africans in SA, Kenya, and Nigeria, InMobi learnt that 69% are somewhat to very comfortable with mobile advertising. This is highest level of satisfaction in the world! By comparison, the US is only at 63%.
Even more compelling, a follow-up study recently in the same Africa markets found that 60% had actually made a purchase via their mobile device. While 3G and smart phone penetration is highly concentrated in urban areas and lag behind Europe and America in terms of widespread accessibility, both are growing rapidly. This will only improve the experience consumers already experience on simple devices (with 2G access to the Internet) whose uptake is unlike any other technology we have ever seen.
If you think today is interesting, just wait until tomorrow
While the present state of mobile advertising is quite good, the near future looks even better.
With the steady growth of smartphones from Android, Nokia, and RIM, we will soon find ourselves at a new level. The combination of powerful smartphone technology and consumer enthusiasm for mobile Internet brings the high reach and frequency benefits we see today – with amazing creative experiences. Interactive, entertaining, and highly visual creative will take mobile advertising in Africa to a new level; and it will happen sooner that any of us think.
In 2011 alone, Huawei has started and will continue to release several Android devices for USD $60 to $100 in key markets. RIM is driving down the costs of data, for example, in South Africa by offering unlimited data packages with their devices.
At InMobi, we can read the future in the data; with Android growing 133% in just 90 days and RIM picking up significant share in South Africa, these numbers hold key information. By the fourth quarter, agencies and brands will have the opportunity to run large-scale, cutting-edge mobile media campaigns in Africa.
My perspective: Africa as a mobile advertising innovator
Perhaps the most exciting opportunity for Africa is the opportunity we have to innovate, not follow, in terms of mobile advertising.
I have a Kenyan father and an American mother and while I was schooled for a few years in the US, I grew up and have worked professionally in Africa. What I have personally observed is that the US is far more entrenched in the digital PC world than Africa. In business we call this ‘Innovator’s Dilemma’.
What it means is that because the US and EU have nearly 100% adoption of the PC web, there is no compelling reason to adopt mobile. In Africa this is not the case. For the first time in history, Africa has the opportunity to be a world leader and innovator in a media sphere.
Today, mobile is a compelling tool in achieving reach and frequency. By the end of this year, it will be even more compelling. Smart devices are already present on the continent and are capable of delivering engaging creative. The opportunity is clear for brands in Africa to become global leaders in mobile advertising. It remains to be seen whether we as an industry can rise to meet this challenge.
I for one believe we can.
Isis Nyong’o is the Vice President and Managing Director Africa, InMobi, based in Nairobi, Kenya
Follow her on Twitter @inyongo
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