There are some exceptional innovations in the global marketplace that are no doubt going to impact the mobile marketing trends in 2018.
Effective Measure’s ‘South Africa Online’ report tells us that 74% of the 40 128 380 local Unique Browsers in December were from mobile devices. This is an impressive number but not wholly surprising, given how big mobile usage is in South Africa – the mobile phone has become an extension of self and used in every spare micro-moment available.
What excites me even more now that mobile is no longer the future and is very much the present, are the tools that we as online marketers, agencies and media owners now have at our fingertips to properly exploit the mobile platform.
The growth of the effective mobile experience
South African consumers are savvy and the more time they spend online and on their mobile devices, the more demanding they are for faster, more seamless experiences.
The growth of mobile in South Africa started long before smart phones and mobile internet were even a thing. Initially, it was largely driven by the need to be in-contact without having to rely on large and expensive parastatals. The South African consumer leap-frogged over the traditional services offered by Telkom, straight into the arms of the mobile service providers. However, decades later, our mobile internet speeds are still not optimal. Thankfully this isn’t just a South African issue.
The US struggles too (they aren’t even in the Top 10 of internet speeds). Most of the US retail mobile sites take around 6.9 seconds to load, which, the stats show, is twice the length of time that about 50% of their internet users are willing to wait before they abandon a web page – some experts estimate that this results in a $500 billion revenue loss for the e-commerce industry.
In response to this need Google rolled out their AMP framework as well as AMP for ads and landing pages. Locally, 24.com is purposefully mindful of page loading speeds and has worked hard to optimise their mobile pages from a UX and coding perspective. This is very exciting for South African mobile marketers as it gives brands the opportunity to properly engage with consumers who may not be using the latest tech and who are wholly reliant on cell phone networks.
Non-intrusive mobile experiences
Globally, the fight for consumer attention will likely become more intense as the digital spaces that make up such a large part of our lives become more cluttered and increasingly fragmented. Who our consumer is and how we engage with them has fundamentally changed over the last 10-years and I do believe that this fight for attention span has led to some phenomenal innovations and will continue to do so.
One of the more effective ways to create a more seamless experience for a mobile consumer is with native ads. Native is not new but it is likely to be ramped up into mainstream this year. Some interesting innovations to look out for are programmatic native video and the use of more live, Virtual Reality and 360-degree video. The latter, if done properly, can create a deeper and more personal relationship with consumers – and gives greater transparency. In this marketing age it’s vital to be aware that consumers are looking for authentic experiences with brands and content that adds value to their lives. And when you add value, you aren’t intrusive.
Ad delivery that dovetails even further with consumers’ locations and activities
Personalisation is a very popular term in ‘ad speak’. Essentially our consumers are demanding better marketing engagement. Which means a less random and a more personalised experience – all made possible by big data. When it comes to mobile – an exciting personalisation innovation that I believe we will see a lot more of in 2018 is ad delivery based on location and activities. But even when we are being more personal with our consumers, we need to make sure we are getting it right.
As it says in this piece in The Drum: “Getting personalisation right is the holy grail for brands. But brands need to stop ‘spamming’ consumers with irrelevant messaging and target them contextually within their environment if they want to add value to their customers.”
In the personalisation game we are going to see heavier investment in data and audience targeting platforms and solutions this year as markers build on the strides they made in this area in 2017.
The growing demand for video is going to continue to surprise us all both in-stream/in-feed and outstream. Historically, mobile data costs and connections speeds have held South Africa back from mirroring the massive growth in the global marketplace. But I anticipate that greater access to fibre and faster mobile networks should see this trend surge this year.
At the end of the day, the consumer is going to dictate how we approach our mobile marketing. The smart brands and advertisers are going to be the ones that understand that, and embrace it. Underpinning this is the rapid advancement of tech and innovation.
Marketers are going to have to learn and adapt faster and faster while still remaining strategic. It may sound terrifying, but in actual fact I believe it is one of the most exciting times to be working in digital advertising. Mobile marketing is going to materially and strategically shape our industry – we just need to hang on for the ride.
Gustav Goosen is head of The SpaceStation, the largest premium display advertising sales house in Sub-Saharan Africa representing more than 60 of Africa’s favourite web and mobile sites.