Graham Christie
Jul 31, 2013

The mobile hub: Adspend trends, Facebook's smiles, the latest Axe app

This month's roundup of mobile news and trends is a mix of the positive, the illuminating, the quizzical, and, well, the mischievous.

Axe's "Get le girl' app

APAC adspend going up

Nielsen has published its quarterly ad spend report (Global Ad View Pulse). Globally, ad spend is reported to have continued with it’s ‘rebound’, with the top line everything and everywhere figure being 1.9 per cent quarter-on-quarter growth.

So whilst much of Europe and North America were flatfish, the APAC figure is the notable element with a solid 5.8 per cent growth, with the star performers being Indonesia, Philippines and China, each showing around 20 per cent growth (see chart below).

Facebook revenues: Product changes paying off, or novelty?

Lots of smiles at Facebook, I imagine over its financial statement this month that shows a whopping 53 per cent revenue growth in the second quarter to US$1.81 billion.

The company attributes this to mobile, stating that it now derives 41 per cent of its total ad revenues from mobile. The shift is the important thing here, as mobile’s contribution was practically zero at the start of 2012. Whilst clickthrough rates on mobile are far higher than desktop for Facebook, those rates are falling. So the question is, are these figures just a lovely blip, coming as they do as a consequence of core product and ad enhancement of late, or has Facebook ended up with a good formula that works in its environments?

Publishers should never stop developing and improving ad suites, and Facebook is certainly no different. People will tire of the news feed ads in their current form, in my view, so Facebook needs a short new-product-development cycle balanced with a practical understanding of the appetite for media planners and buyers to digest changes and enhancements. There is a sweet spot, and this second element I don’t think Facebook has paid enough attention to in the past.

Transacting over mobile: Confidence leaps forward

Havas and Market Probe International have published some useful insights around consumer attitudes, in 31 markets, to shopping and transacting over mobile. The ‘Digital and New Consumer’ study found that m-commerce is taking hold far more in key APAC markets than, for instance, the US or Europe. In terms of researching items or looking for consumer reviews and feedback, the smartphone is an essential tool, with worldwide 43 per cent of respondents saying that they use the device for this purpose, but this measure in some APAC markets it’s appreciably higher with, for instance, China at 74 per cent and Singapore at 58 per cent. When asked more broadly around ‘shopping’ on mobile, again, some APAC markets recorded top scores with China at 50 per cent, Singapore at 48 per cent, and India 42 per cent.

That APAC consumers display this propensity in the second decade of the internet is of little surprise, as much the scale and adoption of the internet in APAC in recent years is due to the penetration of mobile into very large marketplaces, essentially with desktop ecommerce being skipped in some markets. This supports a broader consumer insight relating to high levels of confidence of using mobile. In the same study, for instance, user or peer review content is playing more and more of a part in helping people reach a decision, even up to the last second before a choice is made. Globally 61 per cent of people say they trust peer reviews more than they trust expert reviews. In China this is 87 per cent. Havas makes the point rightly, however, that no channel is in a vacuum, and consideration and buying patterns play out across multiple touchpoints, so therefore should digital strategies.

Smart devices and multi-tasking

The market research company DisplaySearch has added some weight and data in tracking the magnitude of multi-tasking across 15 advanced and emerging countries, so it’s relevant for us all. They note that 88 per cent of tablet and 82 per cent of the smartphone owners surveyed use their devices at least some of the time whilst they watch TV (in the traditional way). Some of the uses were web browsing, social media, texting, and looking up weather. A reason cited was the ability to watch what they want where they want when they want without having to fight for the remote.

Seems perfectly understandable if a little anti-social, or am I being old fashioned? It’s important then to identify ‘like’ audiences across platforms as this time-shifting behaviour goes mainstream. Companion TV app-based propositions have yet to prove themselves to any great degree, and even if they carve out a sustainable role, it will be to contribute to a far more influential intelligence-based audience approach to video content consumption, and the brand stories woven throughout.

‘Get the girl’ app


Graham Christie is partner
with Sydney-based Big Mobile. His column, The Mobile Hub, appears monthly.

I had to end on this. Those cheeky folks at Unilever UK are continuing to invest thinking and budget in mobile with their Lynx brand. Five years after the ground-breaking ‘Get in there’ mobile campaign, they are at it again, reaching out to their core young, male, and ever-hopeful audience just in time for the Euro summer.

They are arming lads with the appropriately named ‘Get le girl’ app, a holiday essential for rascals, which they claim is more important than your passport. It’s a collision of gamification meets language translation meets pick up coach, and is harmless and silly. It’s a good example of branded content with utility, and I’m sure will be a hit on the beaches of Ibiza and elsewhere.

MMA Forum

And really lastly, the Mobile Marketing Association is holding its annual APAC Forum in Singapore in late August. There’s a strong line-up, with some great topics and content promised. If you can go, go.

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