Graham Christie
Nov 11, 2014

Mobile upshift: Marketers changing gears

THE MOBILE HUB: in his monthly survey of all things mobile, Graham Christie examines evidence of mobile budgets finally catching up with reality. He also coins a new buzzword because 'Internet of Things' is too limiting.

Graham Christie
Graham Christie

There’s been a marked shift in mobile marketing spends in the US. Not just normal trending growth, but more pronounced. This is a signal of things to come in the APAC region. In the US folk spend 2 hours 51 minutes a day on their mobile devices. The only other media with more time spent is TV at 4 hours 21 minutes. The ad dollars to eyeballs mantra that has been ringing in our ears for years, is now, it seems, starting to play out. The popularity of Facebook’s mobile offering is one of the factors fuelling mobile’s share of overall spend, and it’s actually good for everybody in the mobile ecosystem. eMarketer thinks Facebook will control 20 per cent of the global mobile ad market by the end of 2014. That leaves a lot of options for distinct mobile media and creative planning.

In the last two years, the base of marketers with decent mobile experience has obviously grown, and although there is nothing like the talent pool needed to support the sector, in any market, the growing experience base of savvy marketers is enabling better decision making.

In the mobile advertising space, I see eight clear themes developing: enhanced targeting capabilities, genuine scale, quality audiences, ease of workflow, tracking and analytics, brand safety, creativeness, and agility. Using this checklist of eight attributes, and getting real on the calibre of the answers, is where lessons are learnt and change happens.

VentureBeat Insight published a report in October stating that budgets were climbing 36 per cent this year, but also citing challenges. The biggest of them was a lack of vendor tech integration, and secondly lack of understanding about mobile tech, so there’s a need for advisers to up their game and avoid mistakes. The importance of mobile now means that decision-makers need to increase the care and diligence with which they plan and execute, and the imperative is to seek out credible answers that separate fact from fiction.

Programmatic rising

eMarketer says that programmatic will account for 45 per cent of display adspend (US) by the end of 2014, with mobile itself 41 per cent of that figure. Overall programmatic will rise to 63 per cent in 2016. RTB is the majority of adtype, but this is expected to normalise as better inventories and control-based models take hold, and as both supply and demand sides see the benefits more clearly.

In Australia we’re witnessing this perhaps, with the creation of APEX the Fairfax and mi9 joint exchange touted for Autumn 2015 arrival. The massive volumes of smart device traffic in Asia means there’s an urgent need for publishers to grasp this, and desire from advertisers to access that volume. So I believe we’ll see rapid implementation in a few markets, learning from mature markets but travelling quicker along the path. The strength of traditional media, and how business is really done, will determine speed of uptake.

Smartphones not slowing

The jungle drums have been beating about a slowdown in smartphone shipments. Not so, says International Data Corporation. IDC’s latest data from its Worldwide Quarterly Phone Tracker study shows handset manufacturers shipped 328 millions units in the September quarter, up 25 per cent year on year. This was over the 300 million mark for the second consecutive quarter. A chief reason cited: greater emphasis on emerging markets, (many of which are APAC of course), and the relative affordability of units. So handsets are getting both better and cheaper. More advanced markets, like Australia and Singapore, are indeed slowing down to single-digit growth quarter on quarter, but in these markets, telcos are increasingly introducing plans offering free upgrades to keep lifecycles shortened.

Smartwatches, however...

Business Intelligence ran a global survey last month asking 1,300 people about smartwatches (BI Intelligence Smartphone Survey October). It seems there’s quite a bit of hard work required to convince prospective buyers these are worthwhile. Headlining the findings is a whopping 51 per cent of respondents who just ‘don’t see the point’. The next largest cohort is kind of worse, in that 13 per cent ‘don’t even wear a watch’ today. I guess that could be seen as a target segment by optimists.

It seems that the lack of a killer app makes the proposition of a watch that needs to pair with your phone a bit odd. Of those that said they were likely purchasers, top draws were filtering calls and information without digging out the phone and health metrics. Apple fans are relatively more upbeat about the prospect, no doubt whipped up by its unveiling by Tim Cook. But they will need to wait probably until April/May 2015 to experience it. There’s seems plenty of buoyancy in the sector though, and time for smartwatches to develop more utility and a reason to be.  Time will tell. Lame pun, sorry.

The Thing of Things (ToT).

You heard this acronym here first. I’m not sure the Internet of Things (IoT), or the Web of Things (WoT), really works as a collective name for what’s emerging. Devices, mobile or not, don’t necessarily need IP (Internet Protocol) to talk to one another, so let's overuse the word ‘thing’ and adopt ‘ToT’ to give the industry as much wiggle room as it wants.

The Nest team, feeling pretty empowered by the $3.2 billion acquisition by Google, has set up its Works With Nest program, which has 4000 developers registered. People expect The Nest Thermostat, which can communicate with the Pebble smartwatch, to become the base for some smarter home automation, such as knowing (via geo-fencing) when you’re close to home and turning on heating/cooling based on your ETA, or waking up appliances when Jawbone’s Up band tells it you are up. Apple’s play here, HomeKit, is readying itself for developer access imminently. The take-out of all this is that the ToT market is estimated, by BI Intelligence, to become, by 2019, more than twice the size of the phone, PC, tablet, connected car, and wearable sectors combined, with the smartphone’s role in this ecosystem being central.

Graham Christie is CCO and Partner with Big Mobile Group


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