As technology develops and infrastructure matures to support it, mobile is continuing to grow and gain traction in Asia. Already, we are seeing more and more services for local populations, offering similar levels of utility to Asian users as mobile users in other countries have grown to rely upon. Other institutions are coming to embrace the mobile platform – banking and finance, for example, have made great strides: a global study by Bain and Company indicates that mobile banking is on the rise around the globe, with Asia having the deepest penetration of mobile banking.
Yet mobile marketing is still lagging behind the times. This is not an attempt to disparage current efforts – Asia is already on the cutting edge, home to some of the best and most innovative mobile campaigns in the world. But the gap between how popular mobile is, and the level of mobile marketing, speaks to some sort of mismatch.
While marketers currently allocate less than one per cent of their marketing budget to mobile advertising, research by the Mobile Marketing Association (based on highly sophisticated return on investment analysis of mobile) determined that the optimised level of spend for mobile advertising is seven percent, on average. This is the figure for US marketers, according to the research, and it seems likely that something similar would apply in Asia. Mobile’s share of the media mix is projected to increase to over ten percent, according to the research, based solely on the growth in adoption of smartphones only.
Considering that mobile now encompasses an increasing array of mobile tablets, as well as smartphones that are growing in size and so changing in useability, it may be that the prediction is conservative, and that the actual percentage needs to be higher in order to realise the optimum ROI from mobile campaigns. As with any new and developing medium, more effective targeting, better ad units, creative excellent, technological innovation, tighter industry standards and many other factors will drive increased spending. All of these will cement the further establishment of mobile as a part of the marketer’s mix.
What may be holding marketer’s back now is that mobile acts so differently compared to more traditional media. It functions well as a catalyst, as a way to convert passive consumer consumption of printed ads or TVCs, into action, and can lead consumers to further explore online sites, related apps, and more. Learning to make the best use of mobile, and using it as a connector between the other parts of a campaign, requires marketers perhaps to learn new strategies, and new ways of relating to consumers.
We are making the right steps, moving along the trail, but it will still take a few brave pioneers to make the most of the mobile opportunity: to put mobile at the forefront of a campaign, and see what happens. Otherwise, development will be slow and steady as marketers gain their footing and start increasing the level of mobile involvement, as well as tailoring campaigns to make the most of mobile. One way or the other, mobile needs to be a bigger part of the marketing mix, and it remains to be seen how we get there.