Almost every year, we hear, “This is the year of the mobile”. As the number of mobile devices on the planet increases, we all nod and agree, every year… But as marketers, while it is increasing in popularity, we are not yet making the most of this all-pervasive communication channel, says Deseré Orrill.
With that in mind, here are some of the key trends that will influence the growth of digital in 2015.
Mobile leads the charge in multi-screen media consumption
More mobile devices and more hours spent using them. This means that if your marketing message isn’t mobile, too, then you’re missing the mark. It is estimated that at least 90% of all media is consumed via a screen of some description, be it TV, computers and tablets, or mobile phones (smartphones and – especially in African countries – feature phones, too), and that mobile is the most frequent “companion screen”. It is also a versatile channel, which allows for parallel communication strategies across all LSMs and handset types, from video-on-demand and smartphone apps, to basic mobisites or simple USSD and SMS interaction. This is especially relevant in Africa, where there is lower smartphone penetration than in other global regions. However, the increase in smartphones remains steady and is likely to be more rapid than anticipated, especially as infrastructure improves, data becomes more affordable and lower cost smartphones finally start to penetrate the market.
Synchronised messaging has an exponential effect
Consumer media consumption habits and screen usage varies contextually as well as by generation. Content needs to be optimised accordingly. Get to know your target audience and its’ preferred method of media consumption, then use targeted content and synchronised messaging to maximum effect. For example, a man aged 33, who is an avid golfer, watches a TV ad for a new housing estate. While checking the news on his mobile a few minutes later he sees an ad for the same properties including a highlight on the golfing facilities. Or, a video about a new low cost car is viewed by a student on YouTube; the same car appears in an ad on his favourite music site with details about a free test drive, he clicks and receives an SMS with GPS co-ordinates for the nearest dealership.
Indivisibility – cross-platform and cross-device messaging rules the day
Successful marketing will call for continued media investment, but the ‘usual suspects’ will look a little different in 2015, especially as millennials, in particular, expect content on demand and optimised for any device. The absolute indivisibility of social and mobile will become increasingly obvious and brands that get it right will be focusing on strategies that incorporate cross-platform and cross-device messaging. Consumer preferences dictate the route, and successful marketers take their lead. Social media platforms are already reflecting this with mobile sales figures at both Facebook and Twitter having enjoyed double-digit gains per quarter in the course of last year. Facebook introduced Atlas, which helps marketers track campaigns across smartphones, tablets and desktops, and Nielsen is working on a measurement tool that will pair mobile views with TV ratings, and Google is also set to debut rich media ads for mobile.
Video content wins eyeballs
When it comes to the type of content that is winning the popularity stakes, then look no further than video. Globally, the Ericsson Mobility Report predicts that 55% of mobile data traffic will be generated through video by 2020 (up from 45% today). Locally, YouTube has an active user base of 7.2 million in South Africa, according to World Wide Worx’s South African Social Media Landscape 2015 report. While this isn’t huge, considering the total number of digital media consumers in South Africa, it still represents a significant – and incrementally growing – number of consumers. As viewing patterns change and consumers spend more time on their mobiles every week, micro-video will become increasingly mainstream, especially via platforms like Vine and Instagram. Stats from Facebook show that an average of 75% of people who click on a video watch it to the end.
Make sense of those stats
Socrates said, “Know thyself”. By getting to know their consumers and their media consumption habits, brands are doing just that: getting to know themselves better, as their consumers use social media to tell them everything they need to know about how they are perceived and what they are delivering. Marketers will begin to understand the relevance of the data that they have been gathering almost indiscriminately, and will now streamline these assets either through in-house skills or make use of data intelligence hubs to identify and interpret the predictors for growth. And combining this with today’s ever more sophisticated algorithm tools, marketing campaigns can be finely targeted, ensuring that brands deliver the right message to those who are genuinely interested in their product.
Let’s go Native
Targeted content, this is a key area where native advertising will come into its own in 2015. In choosing publishing partners, brands (or their agencies) need to be selective, ensuring that their content is housed on sites which are reputable and are known for their editorial quality. Publishers who are transparent when it comes to sponsored content and incorporate this intelligently within their editorial landscape, will be the ‘winners’ as they will gain consumer trust and not run the risk of alienation that is likely to result from covert native content ‘land-mining tactics’.
Native content that matches the site’s tone and style, and addresses legitimate reader interests will score positive points for both brand and publication. What makes this form of advertising even more appealing, is that the content can take many forms – infographics, tables, explanatory articles as well as videos that tell the brand’s story in an entertaining and engaging way.
Get with the programme
Buying and selling advertising through programmatic methods will get better as the user data improves and programmatic ads become more creative, with banner ads being complemented and in many cases replaced by content which delivers a more entertaining and rewarding experience, making for more dynamic brand storytelling. Agencies will have to ensure that creative can be delivered to maximum effect on all screens because there is a growing tendency for consumers not to be viewing content on a 72-inch screen. As viewing stats show, the smaller screens suit the consumer just fine, apparently, and brands are seeing strong returns on both their direct response and brand lift video campaigns delivered via mobile.
Digital pollination for brands
The word ‘engagement’ just gets more and more important in 2015. As brands become more creative in their storytelling (especially with video and native content), take note of consumers’ media consumption preferences (by learning from their analytical gold mines), listen to their consumers’ voices as they join the marketing conversation via social media and mobile interaction, and channel their messaging accordingly, the importance of digital as the most vital pollinator in the marketing ecosystem will be unquestionably apparent.
The digital native has an analogue heart
Adding the digital element to every channel, even the ones that aren’t inherently digital, will be the key differentiator in 2015. From the sophisticated (like a ‘talking’ billboard that responds to consumer interaction), through the relatively familiar (like interaction via smartphone on a print ad), to the banal (like an SMS call to action on a TV screen), ‘going digital’ will enable brands to hear, feel and ultimately touch their consumers in the most relevant of ways.
The savvy marketer will match the analogue heart of the consumer with its digital beat in 2015.