Can Middle East marketers catch up with mobile advertising?

Digital content and journalism have caused one of the biggest revolutions seen in the media sector since the advent of printing presses allowed for a local paper to reach a mass audience. With so many channels to access news on right now, the role of static advertising in media, such as television, newspapers and even online platforms, can cause businesses to miss out on a huge section of society that simply isn’t sufficiently engaged with these formats.

In the age of hyper globalisation and with so many accessing news and content on the move, many are hinting that mobile advertising is the way to go when attempting to get a grip on this emerging channel before they end up being crowded out by a glut on other innovators who got there first.

The latest revolution

These insights aren’t just coming from the businesses who have the bias of a vested interest in promoting the mobile advertising angle; PwC, one of the big four accounting firms, noted in its report, Global entertainment and media outlook 2016-2020: Internet advertising, that mobile advertising will account for a staggering 49 per cent of all Internet advertising by the end of the decade, because fewer people will access content and media on laptops and desktop computers, and more and more will get the majority of their news through mobile phones.

Much of this foundation is said to have been laid by Internet giants Google and Facebook over the past three years. These firms have cleverly been streamlining and adapting their operations to be more suited to promote and deliver content on mobile devices, rather than static ones.

“Technology is evolving at an astonishing pace. Consumers don’t see silos; they navigate, research and purchase products and services entirely based on the situation they are in. This means consumers blend their experiences, moving from device to device, app to desktop, online to offline, leaving brands with fragmented journeys to stitch together and draw insights from,” says the chief operating officer of hug digital, Hussein M Dajani.

The success of mobile video

Mobile video is also experiencing a huge boom in viewership. A report from Ooyola’s Global Video Index Q1 2016 stated that in 2016 mobile video viewing increased by a whopping 170 per cent since 2013. Worth noting is the fact that 46 per cent of all video plays occurred on a mobile in the last quarter of 2015, which shows both the phenomenal rise of the format and how relevant this development is for advertisers looking to stay at the top of their game.

There are many ways to capitalise on this new frontier of advertising. With the potential to carry out location-specific advertising campaigns through what is known as geo-targeting on mobiles thanks to most phone users choosing to enable their location and GPS capabilities to receive more relevant content on their phones, including maps and weather, it is possible to carry out different campaigns in different areas on media such as Facebook and let them deliver the relevant metrics and measurements straight back to the advertiser without much effort.

This kind of development is particularly interesting as it allows companies to see which areas might lead to more profitable results and just how successful an advertising campaign has been, without needing to rely on applying coding to discounts and offers in order to be able to increase the customer base whilst measuring it at the same time.

Dajani notes: “Brands are still trying to find the balance between putting mobile at the forefront of their strategy with the knowledge that the concept is actually right for their brands. Social media is a huge opportunity, but remember you only have “moments” to capture interest: ads need to be relevant and tailored to audience’s interests.“

On par with desktop

Nielsen in its Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings US Benchmarks and Findings Through Q2 2016 reported that mobile advertisers were starting to hit their stride in terms of successful reach to consumers with 60 per cent of mobile adverts now reaching their intended destination, compared to 49 per cent in the year before.

This performance now puts “the average on-target percentage for mobile campaigns on par with that of desktop campaigns”, as described by Nielsen. With such startling increases in successful targeted campaigns being demonstrated year on year, alongside other increases estimated by PwC, it will be no surprise to see advertisers clamouring to get on board with this form of marketing before the opportunity passes.

How to retain customers

Given the number and variety of modern marketing channels – like social media, mobile apps and traditional advertising – it’s no surprise that today’s brands want to reach consumers by integrating mobile with every trending channel and new technology.

As billions of consumers turn to popular digital avenues such as social media and mobile, it is only natural for brands to want to integrate emerging channels, technologies and platforms with their mobile marketing efforts. However, before they can do so, marketers must first master mobile basics.

So how can marketers and retailers encourage greater adoption and use of mobile-payment systems? Enhancing security seems common sense, but building trust is a critical first step in encouraging wider adoption.

According to the Nielsen’s mobile shopping, banking and payment survey of 2016, which polled more than 30,000 online respondents in 63 countries, more than four in ten of global respondents say they’d try mobile payments or use them more if they received mobile-exclusive incentives, loyalty perks or rewards (44 per cent) or if checking out was faster than with traditional methods (44 per cent).

Choices before marketers

According to Nielsen, when it comes to mobile ads on smartphones, marketers have an array of options in front of them that they can use to motivate consumers to take action (such as purchasing a product or service, visiting a location, etc.). Each option is as unique as the individual consumer and each provides marketers with a plethora of opportunities for customer engagement.

With everything mobile, advertisers are still figuring out their engagement tactics. As marketers look to reach people on more personal levels, they hope that, at best, their ads will create enough of an emotional trigger to encourage a click and end with a purchase. At the least, they hope users will click on an ad and make a mental note, giving consumers the necessary incentives to purchase.

To reach people personally, it’s critical for marketers to look at behaviours and interests by generation. How do different generations engage with mobile advertisements and what are the greatest motivators for engagement?

According to Nielsen’s second-quarter 2016 Connected Device Report, 19 per cent of Millennials, 17 per cent of Generation X and 14 per cent of Baby Boomers said viewing an ad with a coupon or promotion was the top motivator for mobile ads on smartphones. In comparison, Generation Z and the Greatest Generation are most motivated by an ad targeted to what they’re searching for – intent and relevance being key.

Interestingly, the greatest motivator for Generation Z changes when they view mobile advertisements on their tablets. Notably, they’re 16 per cent more likely to engage with an ad of a familiar brand – key for marketers who find this group to be powerful in today’s connected ecosystem. Fourteen per cent are motivated by an ad with a coupon or promotion – a win-win for brands that can reach this group by being one of their favourite brands and offering a discount deal, Nielsen said.

While the assumption might be that people across all generations dislike mobile advertising, the opposite proves to be true for Generation Z and Millennials. Forty-two percent of Generation Z and 44 per cent of Millennial smartphone users are okay with advertising if the content they’re engaging with is free and the ads don’t affect their mobile data consumption. Equally as important to note, 32 per cent of Generation Z and Millennials are more likely to click on an ad that doesn’t take them outside of the application or redirect them to another website; convenience is the underlying theme here.

In what may be a sign of the times and how generations interact with mobile devices differently, younger smartphone users are more willing to give up some of their personal details in exchange for free or reduced-cost content than older consumers. In fact, 55 per cent of Generation Z and 48 per cent of Millennials are willing to take action on an ad if they’re given the right mix of branding, convenience and promotional offering. Whereas Generation X, Baby Boomers and the Greatest Generation tend to be more sceptical of releasing their personal info, deal or no deal.

The takeaway for mobile advertisers is: mobile ads could be a good way to reach consumers – especially if they come with offers and promotions. As for engaging with people across the generational divide, make it personal, make it relevant and throw in a discount for good measure.

Dajani concludes: “Our region is still at an infancy level when it comes to mobile advertising. It is picking up, but at a very slow pace, at least from what I am seeing. The reason for that is a lack of understanding among many marketers about what mobile advertising is, what strategies to apply and how to go about it. Agencies should play a much bigger role in educating their partner clients about the benefits of mobile advertising, especially taking into consideration the high penetration of smartphones in this region.”

This article appeared in the March 2017 issue of Gulf Marketing Review. To subscribe please call: +971 4 369 7573

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