It takes a brave man to make predictions that span an entire year – especially in the mobile advertising industry. However, if you are a digital marketer, here is a prediction that you can be reasonably sure of: Your job is going to change in a very fundamental way.
Mobile is Mainstream
Everyone will soon be on a mobile device. The total number of global mobile connections is going to surpass the six billion mark by the end of 2011, according to a forecast from Wireless Intelligence. According to a Morgan Stanley Research Report, smartphones are growing faster than the desktop Internet ever did. The research report also estimates that the number of smartphone shipments will exceed that of feature phone shipments in 2011.
With this kind of heavy demand, the digital plan for 2012 must include a mobile component. Now, this statement is not particularly prescient but bears repeating: To stay competitive, a mobile first strategy in 2012 is the only option for platforms, advertisers and all types of content providers. If rising above the competition is your goal, convergence will be the key.
Content and Consumption: The Growth of the Three Screen Ad Management Platform
Consumers will increasingly expect to communicate, network, watch and shop from a broader range of devices. People still like TV as a device to watch content and that’s not changing. But, how users interact with it certainly will. The launch of Apple TV and Samsung’s connected TV are just two signs that TVs that are formatted for Internet browsing are coming to a living room near you. The lower price point of devices like Amazon’s Kindle Fire, will help accelerate multi-screen media consumption starting this holiday season.
Consequently, marketers will need the ability to build campaigns that reach across many screens. This will take a lot of planning and execution. So, starting this year we will see marketers and content providers pursuing partnerships with advertising vendors that allow for campaign management and optimization from a single point of connection. And, the vendors and platforms that will win in 2012 will serve as a technological bridge for companies looking to take advantage of evolving cross-media consumption habits.
Taking it Personally in 2012
What is it that we are doing on Facebook and Google +? We are devouring content that is personalized to us. In fact, everything is personalized. TV is now Netflix. Pandora, with over 100 million users is just one of the free-streaming services that have replaced radio. And, given the intimate nature of the mobile devices we spend the most time with, users will come to expect a very personal experience on smartphones and tablets.
If all content is personalized, then why not advertising? In the coming year, marketers will no longer be able to get by with broadcasting one message to anonymous impressions. In these tough economic times, marketers will turn towards methods that prove ROI and move away from branding. The IAB Internet spending reports for the last three years have confirmed this with performance based advertising gaining share at the expense of impression based advertising models. Nowadays, marketing is all about engagement, utility and follow through. Marketers will have to speak to users in a more personalized way. Speaking directly to users, however, will require a respectful approach to their privacy at all times without compromise.
The Year of the User
The first step in personalized engagement is acquiring users. Nowhere else will we see this user-first mentality used more than in the music business. In the next year, the industry will take on a user-curated “pull” method of content delivery. As the vehicle for delivery, social media will act as the savior of the music industry. Facebook will soon be partnering with ad-supported, free-streaming services starting with the music site Spotify.
With this integration, content will be free with ad revenue divided between the music industry, Facebook and the free streaming services. These music services will be trying to acquire users as quickly as they possibly can. This free, ad-supported, user-curated content model will spread to all forms of entertainment including mobile apps. Today, 14 out of the top 25 grossing apps in the iTunes store are free. This trend will only accelerate in 2012.
World-Wide Mobile Web
Lastly, we will see the giant squid of mobile interconnectedness stretch its tentacles all around the globe in 2012. Significant international opportunities are developing in mobile despite the economic environment. The smartphone connections in the Asia-Pacific region will rise to account for 50% of all connections by the end of this year - two-thirds of the total relate to China and India. And, even though the Euro is melting faster than ice cream on a hot day, there is a strong app development community in Europe looking to capture mobile advertising dollars.
According to a report released by Flurry in 2011, the mobile application market in Europe consists of 46 million monthly mobile application users across the U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Spain. This base is growing by more than 10% (month-over-month). And, American content providers with fans in far off countries will aim to capture international ad dollars while satisfying their users with advertising that is relevant to them.
Overall, the mobile industry, unlike the global economy is healthy. Very healthy. It’s healthy enough to have great ambitions for the future and for that we are thankful and excited to be a part of its unfolding. Let’s ring out the old and ring in the new.