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Nine signs that you can count on mobile

Nadim Khouri draws from Resolution’s Mobile Hotspot forum to paint a mobile-first future for the MENA region

It’s hard to resist the temptation to call 2014 the year of mobile, but the next few months will certainly see an incredible growth in mobile media. Brands are vying for the attention of relevant audiences and the advanced targeting capabilities of mobile can no longer be ignored. As one of the most cost-effective media today, it’s proving increasingly appealing to advertisers.

The following nine trends will be the most significant in 2014 and demonstrate how mobile marketing is set to become more intimate, more specific and most importantly – more relevant:

Mobile media investments in Q1 of 2014 surpassed the first three quarters of 2013
More and more brands are seeking strategic advice on how to penetrate the mobile space. With a variety of techniques available, they can benefit from mobile marketing in one way or another. Some brands are eager and are planning long-term, while other brands still stand shy and are in test mode. While applications remain a fruitful strategy, they are still a high financial entry point. Social mobile media and mobile rich media open the doors for all to take part.

Mobile will be bigger than web
By 2020, mobile marketing investments will comprise more than 50 per cent of digital budgets worldwide. Smartphone penetration is increasing rapidly, with the UAE and Saudi Arabia leading the way. In terms of sales, tablets are the fastest growing device and will overtake PCs by 2017. With smartphones growing at a 38 per cent year-on-year average, mobile internet traffic is about to surpass PC internet traffic. Social platforms have geared their efforts towards mobile as they see engagement levels skyrocket compared to web.

Smartphones are consumers’ most personal and influential devices
Idleness often leads us to our pockets where we reach for our smartphone. Millenials have leap-frogged the PC and demand more out of their handheld devices. As they start to replace the map, watch, camera, newspaper, bank teller and even friends’ advice, smartphones have become ubiquitous and essential to our lives. So much so that the opportunities within mobile advertising keep growing.

A smart use of mobile media goes beyond reach
Mobile marketing isn’t about devices but about mobility. It’s about immersing a brand in people’s lives when they are ‘on-the-go’. It’s not about retrofitting mobile into a traditional or even digital plan, but considering its unique properties from the outset, against the backdrop of a brand’s business objectives. Mobile metrics can extend as far as ROI if enough information is exchanged. Putting mobile creative first is adding to the effectiveness of the approach, as adapting existing assets is no longer enough. Today’s mobile technology allows for very interesting creative executions with clever targeting mechanics.

Multi-layered approach to innovation
As mobility helps connect, engage and influence consumers, their expectations of their devices, as well as brands, keep growing. To properly engage consumers, brands need to innovate. Realising that viewers sit in front of the TV with a mobile device, US network AMC increased the engagement of their hit show The Walking Dead with a synchronised app to create a second viewing and opportunities for brands to communicate in real time. There’s also more to come in terms of mobile-retail integration and mobile wallets, which will change the consumers’ journey. We expect to see more mobile app-brand partnerships and emerging opportunities for brands to capitalise on the popularity of chat over mobile.

Better with numbers
None of this will work without precision in terms of targeting and performance evaluation. In a cookie-free environment, we’re seeing rapid moves to enhance capabilities in this area. The availability of telco data will enhance our targeting accuracy. While respecting the need for privacy, the richness of data in social mobile allows us to be very precise and effective. Broad targeting is no longer enough and, thanks to new tools and technology, we now can be much more accurate in the identification, connection and engagement of specific audiences. Mobile marketing professionals in our Mobile Hotspot event’s panel were very clear on their efforts to use business-relevant performance metrics rather than looser media proxies.

Innovation in hardware and software in smartphone space
Wearable technology has taken the digital industry by storm. Marketing opportunities for brands will only make wearable products monetisable once the curved screen is utilised to create the ‘iWatch’.  Once an iWatch or equivalent is on everyone’s wrists, this will create a host of fresh digital impressions for brands to optimise. The nature of wearable technology means brands will be able to access intimate details of users who accept messages in order to maximise or enrich their experiences.

Tablets are here to stay
Tablet sales in the Middle East grew by 111 per cent in Q4 of 2013 to reach a total of 3.45 million units. In a market where these devices need to be purchased at full price, this is exceptional. Home is where the use of tablet technology is maximised. According to a study by Adobe, users on tablets are far more likely to read more information within a piece of content than on a smartphone. Creatives on tablet should take on their own form.

Mobile-first companies will command a lot of attention
Smartphones have become an extension of users’ minds and businesses are beginning to capitalise on this by simply offering consumers a more convenient way of doing things. We will see a rise in the number of businesses operating primarily on mobile devices.

Based on the above trends, one thing is evident: mobile marketing will only grow from this point onwards. All the elements are in place to make it one of the most effective media approaches and, as it grows in sophistication and maturity, brands will find in it a powerful communication and commercial channel.

Nadim Khouri is the director of mobile marketing at Omnicom Media Group’s Resolution MENA

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