Contributed by Fabrizio Caruso, Managing Director, Asia-Pacific, Out There Media

Fabrizio Caruso

2011 might just be the year for mobile marketing, especially in this region: Gartner reports that Asia Pacific mobile ad revenue will be $1.6 billion this year due to the staggering growth of mobile in China, increasing smartphone adoption and mobile coupon usage in the region. Other findings corroborate that finding – the GSMA recently estimated that there would be six billion mobile connections globally by the end of November*. Asia is set to make up fully half of that number, three billion mobile connections, by the first quarter of 2012. That is a staggering achievement for a part of the world that is usually thought of as backwards and still developing. It’s worth repeating – by early 2012, half the mobile connections in the world will be in Asia.

This did not happen overnight, although the rate of development was quite rapid. In fact, mobile services in Asia grew to 78 per cent in 2011, from an already respectable 12 per cent in 2002**. That rapid rate of growth has led the GSMA to project continuing growth for the region, with Asia set to
become the world’s biggest market by 2020, with over 11 billion total connected devices, of which 5.6 billion will be mobile. That’s an astonishing market share of 47 per cent, the biggest share in the global market. In the same time frame, Europe will have 19.1 per cent of the market, while North America will have a respectable 9.4 per cent of the market***.

In the face of those predictions, 2012 looks like it will be a very prosperous and interesting time for the mobile space. Conditions are ripe for all manner of developments, as maturing infrastructures and the demands of digitally-savvy consumers drive service and product development. Economically, Asia is still an attractive proposition: a largely untapped market with a huge population. As foreign investors rush to stake their claim to a share of the market, local entrepreneurs are also making their move to address the unique needs of local populations. In no particular order, here are some trends to look out for in the mobile marketing space in 2012.

Mobile payment-enabled advertising
As banks and financial institutions settle on common standards and work together with mobile operators, it seems likely that mobile payment will become more readily available. Consumers will be able to carry out transactions directly from their mobile devices and use them as unique identifiers. This in turn will let mobile advertisers blend payment methods into campaigns, enabling consumers to take advantage of offers instantaneously by using mobile payment.

Mobile coupons
The use of mobile devices will not be limited to mobile wallet functions. Paperless, electronic coupons can be issued easily through the mobile channel, and used for ticketing, discounts and other purposes. Mobile coupons can be delivered through a variety of means, in response to SMS messages or other interactive functions.

Adoption of location-based advertising campaigns
The ability of mobile devices to provide information on one’s location opens up a lot of possibilities. Should advertisers have access to location data, they can then send out marketing information opportunistically, according to the users’ location. Not only can users get information about products and services available in their immediate surrounds, they can also take advantage of offers or special deals, issued (as the point above suggests) in the form of mobile coupons.

Bigger media/marketing budget share for mobile
The extension of mobile marketing will lead to mobile taking a bigger share of marketing budgets, as marketers and brands include the mobile channel more in their campaigns. Additionally, affordable mobile broadband will allow for more consumption of mobile media, so mobile delivery will also play into media plans.

Power of opting in and out
Consumer privacy continues to remain a hot-button issue, but one that can be adapted through the use of opt-in and opt-out. Offering consumers the choice of what information to share, and to what extent, as well as the option to opt-out at any point returns a great deal of control to the consumers’ hands. In return, consumers will exchange their data and attention for information, deals and special treatment (perhaps through mobileenabled loyalty programmes where consumers receive only the marketing information they desire).

Mobile destinations fuelling the growth of mobile ads
Most brands will have mobile destinations in the form of a mobile site and app exactly as they all have a website or a Facebook page. As mobile destinations become more accepted, they will also drive the growth of mobile ads. Already, the market is full of mobile sites and applications that offer consumers information, content and free utility in return for some exposure to advertising. This trend is set to grow and shows no sign of abatement. Consumers will accept a small measure of advertising (as evidenced by television and print ads) in return for better value and relevant content.

Significance of coupons and vouchers to drive campaign response rates
As companies like Groupon have shown, consumers are willing to participate in marketing schemes involving couponing and vouchers, provided that they have some measure of control. Groupon and other schemes like it return the control to consumers, because they choose which coupons to buy. Combined with electronic/mobile coupons, 2012 is set to be the year that coupons and vouchers drive campaign response rates like never before.

Personalisation of advertisements defines success
Technological advances aside, the mobile user expects personalised communication on his or her mobile device, so personalised advertising will become key to success. Broad-based advertising that treats the individual as anonymous will be discarded, in favour of marketing material obtained through opt-in or other channels, which take the consumer’s identity into account.

Ad space in the form of key search words
The other area in which mobile excels is providing information when it is most needed. Today’s savvy consumer is likely to reach for his or her mobile device in order to find a restaurant when they are hungry, or to find out what movies are playing when they head to the cinema. Search will continue to be a key mobile activity, and search ads, or ads tagged to key search words, will again provide what the consumer needs when they are looking for it.

Growth of video/audio ads
While mobile has largely been text-driven in the past, perhaps due to the preponderance of feature phones, the new generation of feature phones is powerful enough to include audiovisual elements. Smartphones and mobile devices are even more powerful still, so delivery of rich content, including video and audio ads, is likely to boom in the year to come.

The essential thing to note is that mobile is currently the next media space that is waiting to be colonised. Greater industry collaboration will be key in ensuring a level playing field and enabling the mobile ecosystem develop and deliver enhanced mobile offerings for the long term. Mobile will be a top choice in the marketing and media mix in the year to come, and the majority of campaigns at both the local and global level will include a mobile component. The exact form of mobile engagement will remain to be seen, but at the end of the day, it is clear that mobile is here, and it’s here to stay.


* http://www.gsma.com/articles/global-mobile-connections-to-reach-six-billion-milestone-with-asia-pacific-accounting-for-half-reports-gsma/20871

** http://www.livemint.com/2011/11/16180849/AsiaPacific-to-have-3-bn-mobi.html?h=B

*** http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asia-pacific-will-dominate-the-connected-device-market-fuelled-by-explosive-growth-in-china-says-gsma-2011-11-16