Play Your Cards Right For Huge Mobile Ad Opportunity

According to the Millward Brown AdReaction 2012 Report, 60% of owners consider their smartphone or tablet indispensable, and nearly two-thirds feel that mobile devices make them more efficient. Morgan Stanley research forecasts an audience of 1.5 billion smartphone and tablet users by mid-2013, the opportunity for mobile marketers is indisputable.



With global mobile ad spending projected to triple to $18.6 billion by 2015, and against the backdrop of a forecasted 1.5 billion smartphone and tablet users by mid-2013, a number of findings from the study emphasize the opportunity:

  • 55% of users consider their device indispensable, with an equal percentage indicating that having a mobile device makes them more efficient
  • Almost half report interacting with a brand on their mobile device following recommendations from friends or family members
  • One-in-four report a willingness to relinquish privacy about their location to receive relevant content and promotion from marketers 
  • One-third report taking action in response to mobile advertising
  • One-third say that receiving deals or promotions on mobile improves their opinion of the brand

But audiences differ, says the report, and have varying needs and expectations:

  • Mobile Sophistics... Tech savvy, mobile can replace computer, younger, male; Want mobile advertising to be great... they benefit from the experience and the reward
  • Mobile Effectives... Use mobile device as a tool for organizing life and household; Want a tangible quid pro quo
  • Mobile Pragmatists... View advertising as the necessary cost of free content; Tolerant of mobile provided it’s relevant and value-add

The study found that the majority of consumers tolerate ads on mobile websites and in apps as long as the sites and apps are free. On average, however, across the countries measured, just 23% of global smartphone or tablet users are favorable toward mobile ads, compared with 36% for online display ads, 47% for newspapers and 51% for TV.

Willing Acceptance of Apps And Ads for Freebies (% of Segment)


Ads in Apps if App Free

Ads on Mobile if Website Free













Source: MillwardBrown, November 2012

On a slightly more positive note for marketers, 38% of consumers reported willingness to share location in return for more relevant services and offers, trading privacy for useful content or incentives and opening the door for brands to engage in ways unique to mobile marketing.

Preferred Deliverables to Mobile


% of Respondents

Deals & Coupons


Free tools


Interest based information


Location based info


Latest product news


Fun features


Source: MillwardBrown, November 2012

Duncan Southgate, Global Brand Director for Digital at Millward Brown, notes that “... (the) AdIndex for Mobile norms show that mobile ads are approximately four-times more effective than online ads at increasing brand awareness, message association and purchase intent...”

But, according to the study, only 11% of smartphone users and 16% of tablet users are favorable toward mobile advertising, a stark comparison to favorability rates of other media, including 30% for magazines and 27% for TV, observes the report.

Attitudes toward mobile ads are more positive in emerging markets including Nigeria and Kenya (both 48% favorable), India (43%) and South Africa (30%), largely because mobile devices are even more central to consumers’ lives in these markets. Globally, attitudes toward ads on tablets are more positive (29%), as are attitudes towards social media news feeds on mobile devices (35%)

eMarketer predicts global spending on mobile ads will triple to $18.6 billion by 2015. The challenge for mobile marketers is to optimize the effectiveness of this ad spend. This can be achieved by demonstrating greater respect, and delivering the following, says the report:

  • Mobile content needs to be tailored extraordinarily well to both the target audience and the context where they will most likely experience it.
  • Mobile can provide opportunities to go deeper when consumers have moments of downtime
  • Marketers should put a smile on the face of their consumers with every mobile connection they deliver, while being careful not to intrude
  • Mobile can play a unique role in the wider media mix since it is both portable and personal, and it can link to and from many other channels
  • Consumers are looking for value in return for access to their mobile phones and their personal information
  • Mobile marketing should be clear, functional and focused
  • Mobile content should be tailored to when and where it is most likely to be consumed

According to respondents, a good mobile website includes these features (% of respondents):

  • Loads quickly   59%
  • Displays clearly on mobile device   50
  • Easy to find via mobile search            32
  • Easier to use than desktop website            20
  • Offers features different from desksite   13
  • More fun than desktop            12
  • Includes location based features            16

This study addresses key questions facing marketers in considerable detail with charts and graphs, and the PDF file may be accessed here.

  • How receptive are consumers to mobile marketing, and how do attitudes compare with other media?
  • What roles can mobile best play in the media mix?
  • What defines mobile best practice and how can mobile help companies build brands?


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