China's Growing Mobile Might


Because of its vast population and surging economic growth, China has long been eyed by mobile companies and marketers as a fertile ground for expansion. The same essentially goes for the other so-called BRIC nations: Brazil, India and Russia. A new eMarketer forecast of mobile advertising in those countries probably won't do much to change that outlook.

It predicts double- and triple-digit growth mobile ad spending across the BRIC nations in the next few years in connection with rapidly rising mobile phone and mobile Internet use. By the end of 2011, for instance, 371 million people in China will access the mobile Web. That figure will reach 600 million in 2015. India will go from 74 million mobile Web users this year to 306 million in 2015.

"Mobile devices play an increasingly vital role as a primary Internet access mode for consumers in emerging markets," noted analyst Noah Elkin in the eMarketer report, released today. With the expansion of 3G services and growing availability of low-cost smartphones, he expects that trend will only deepen in the coming years.

What does that all add up to when it comes to money devoted to mobile advertising in these markets? The growth rates may be gaudy, but the dollars are still relatively small -- the natural result of starting from a small base. So in China -- by far the largest of the four markets-projected mobile ad spending of $449 million this year will nearly triple to $1.4 billion in 2015. That's a bit more than the $1.1 billion expected in U.S. mobile ad spending this year (across display, search and message-based advertising).

The mobile ad totals in the other BRIC countries are quite a bit smaller. India, the next largest market, for example, is projected to generate $56.5 million in spending this year, increasing almost five-fold to $247 million in four years. Regardless of the ad spending levels, eMarketer advises adding mobile to the marketing mix for companies trying to reach BRIC consumers because of the key role devices play in their lives.

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