Investment and adoption in mobile marketing continue to rise, despite widespread media budget cuts.
There is no doubt that the world has changed, and consumer behaviour along with it. So while some media succumb to the financial strain placed on them by Covid-19 – consider the plight of the many South African print magazines that have had to close down – mobile as both a channel and a platform is going from strength to strength.
In fact, according to the Mobile Marketing Association’s (MMA) The state of the industry: 2020 Mobile Marketing in EMEA report, produced in partnership with WARC, mobile is the fastest-growing channel and the biggest driver of internet growth in the EMEA region. It’s not hard to understand why: it works. So much so that 94% of marketers surveyed in the study say mobile is effective.
While mobile is certainly not immune to the blanket budget cuts that most marketers are navigating, in the main, 25% of all marketing budgets is allocated to mobile and 66% of marketers expect mobile budgets to rise in 2020. Another significant finding is that for most respondents, 50% of their mobile budgets is allocated exclusively to mobile video.
The growth in mobile video consumption is understandable. Consumers have been stuck at home for months, and need entertainment. New mobile apps like TikTok have exploded thanks to the lockdown: global figures suggest that during the week beginning 16th March, TikTok was downloaded two-million times (an 18% increase in downloads from the previous week). The app also saw a 27% increase in the first 23 days of March compared to the 6.2 million downloads in February. Not bad for the new kid on the social media block that only launched in 2016.
TikTok users are finding ever more creative ways to use the platform, such as running the first-ever Quarantine Olympics, with a number of previous unknowns becoming global idols with massive audiences. In fact, educators are now looking at how they can use this tool, because of how it engages an audience that is becoming increasingly hard to reach.
Mobile payments and m-commerce are also on the rise, with 37% and 34% respectively of the MMA study’s respondents saying that they have seen a change in user habits. Thus, as social and shopping apps and mobile payment platforms become more dominant, marketers across all sectors will need to ensure that they fast-track their m-commerce strategies to align with changing consumer behaviour.
Mobile gaming has experienced similar spikes. From 16-23 March, 4.3-million video games were sold worldwide, a 63% increase over the previous week. While this was reported to be in part due to the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons by Nintendo, it is a trend that is continuing its upwards trajectory. It’s therefore no surprise that mobile gaming advertising is on the rise, and is expected to become even more popular in the coming months and years.
Whether it’s mobile video, gaming or social media, one common priority remains: marketers must adopt a mobile media-first approach. Far too many still take their TVCs and simply reuse them for mobile. Mobile is a unique and powerful channel, and marketers need a clear strategy focusing on utility when adopting this channel in their comms plans.
People respond differently on a phone; it is an extension of their selves and therefore of the brands they encounter when using it, even more so than before COVID-19, and mobile users engage with their phones over many “micro moments” throughout the day. Brands need to look at when the device is being used, and if there is something useful and contextual they can offer to help consumers achieve what they want.
Of course, e-commerce has experienced a similar boom as consumers choose to stay at home and transact online. This presents a massive opportunity for media owners who can target consumers while they are shopping, and take the friction out of the customer journey to deliver a better overall consumption experience.
Looking ahead, and as the phone becomes even more central to our lives, technologies that have been around for a number of years, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), will become more pervasive – especially as younger generations adopt them. Just look at Snapchat’s innovative use of AR, with its embedded filters, lenses and AR features. Entertainment experiences will become more immersive, as cameras augmented with other datasets add more meaning and value to digital content. VR will follow in its wake, but only when access to headsets becomes more affordable.
With all of this change happening, it is interesting to note that 61% of companies surveyed in the MMA study believe that they have adapted to mobile and developed a mobile-first brand response. This is an increase of 11 percentage points on 2019.
Globally, 52% of people accesses the internet primarily via mobile (in South Africa this stands at 601%), so for many, mobile is the main way they engage with brands. As a result, marketing professionals need to understand how and when devices are being used, and ensure their communications are relevant and useful to those moments. While there is still some way to go, this does follow the broader curve of digital adoption and digitisation. Lockdown has made it clear: there is a primary channel, and it is mobile.
Luisa Mazinter is Chair Emeritus of the Mobile Marketing Association SA. She is the chief marketing officer at CubeSquare Advisory, a senior executive with extensive experience in formulating and executing strategies that deliver bottom-line growth. She employs innovative approaches to analysing market information and identifying business opportunities.
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