One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Mobile Advertising In Emerging Markets Will Fail

While the West has become smartphone-saturated, emerging markets hold infinite opportunities to engage and convert new customers. For any company wishing to capture the attention of emerging market consumers, mobile is going to be the most effective way to reach them. In fact, according to the IAB, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Asia-Pacific have experienced more than a 60 percent increase in year-over-year growth in mobile ad revenues. Furthermore, it is projected that by 2017 the developing world will account for the majority of new mobile connections worldwide, at 1.6 billion. With such startling potential, it is easy to see why we are witnessing such an increase in mobile advertising investment in emerging markets.

The growth of smartphone use and an emerging middle class with more disposable income is drastically increasing the opportunity to increase revenue streams in emerging markets, making these areas extremely appealing to major brands and marketers. In addition, mobile phones are the most commonly used devices in these regions, being used more often than PCs, tablets or laptops. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that mobile marketing is recognized as one of the most effective ways to engage these emerging market consumers.



It would be a mistake to assume that mobile promotions that work well in the West can be duplicated in emerging markets. Taking a successful campaign that worked in one country and expanding it to other territories might be tempting -- however, the key timings and words that drive engagement vary greatly, and not always in a predictable fashion. In fact, our data that analyzed billions of customer interactions over mobile in more than 40 countries has found that a one-size-fits-all approach to mobile marketing will not work.

Many factors deserve consideration when developing a successful mobile marketing strategy in emerging markets. However, to be truly effective, having knowledge of local nuances is invaluable. Obtaining local insight into the preferences, especially semantics and specific promotions that resonate with consumers, and also the times of days, will play an integral role to the success or failure of a campaign.

While the quintessential rules of marketing will always be important, such as reaching the right consumer at the right time – what are the right ways in emerging markers? Looking specifically at Nigeria, Cameroon, Vietnam and Brazil, we found that the winning formula differs from country to country. The differences are not always glaring, but they offer key insights into the best practices for brands and marketers looking to successfully penetrate these markets.

While examining Nigeria and Cameroon, we noted these neighboring countries both have peak engagement times in the afternoon. The optimal time to target Nigerians is at approximately 3 p.m., which is when they are most receptive to marketing messaging, whereas 2 p.m. is the peak time in Cameroon. An hour may not seem like a big difference, but the results can have a substantial outcome in terms of the level of engagement a campaign might produce.

In Nigeria, mobile campaigns are most effective on Tuesdays and Saturdays, while in Brazil, the most successful days for mobile campaigns are Fridays and Mondays. However, unlike Nigerians, reaching consumers first thing in the morning, at 9 a.m. is the best time to target Brazilian consumers. In Vietnam, 9 a.m. on Fridays is the time that messages are best received.

Sentiment and tone at the start of messages vary greatly across nations. For example, “Dear Loyal Customer” has proven to be most popular with Nigerians, while “Lucky” or “Selected” resonates best with Brazilians. In Cameroon, “Exclusivity,” creates the most traction.

The specific prizes offered can also greatly impact engagement rates. For instance, our data shows that in Nigeria, when airtime is offered over the iPhone, campaigns typically receive 100 percent more responses. In Brazil, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the most coveted prize, followed by ‘RS 3000,’ cash and the iPhone.

When building a strategy for emerging markets, it is critical to remember that a cookie cutter approach will not work. Success cannot be replicated across the world unless time is taken to analyze the end-user and the strategies that will be most effective at targeting and engaging them. While the differences can be subtle, having prior knowledge into the specific language, sentiment, timing and content of messages can mean the difference between a winning versus a losing campaign.

1 comment about "One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Mobile Advertising In Emerging Markets Will Fail".
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  1. Anni Paul from BoscoSystems, January 27, 2014 at 8:47 p.m.

    Absolutely correct, which is why native advertising is so important. You can't rush it or sacrifice its quality. It definitely takes more time this way, but when done correctly nothing is more effective than mobile advertising (particularly native mobile ads) ...

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