Seven essential mobile advertising insights

I recently attended a London roadshow event held by Mobile Squared, a mobile research agency that provides insight into mobile advertising, content and services. The event was a global gathering focussed on mobile advertising. Here are seven critical insights from the conference:

  1. Simplicity works: A factor that was constantly highlighted was that an iPhone and Android-exclusive focus will not reach a broad audience. Simpler devices have more market share, and mobile friendly sites are possibly the primary way to reach a larger audience. The fact that simple SMS based services such as txtlocal are doing so well highlights the fact that simple campaigns are effective and offer reach. Many companies build iPhone apps first because that is the device their CEO uses, but this is often not representative of their market.
  2. Mobile is not well packaged for the lay person: Consensus is that mobile advertising is being poorly promoted and that confusion still reigns as to what is and isn’t possible. Additionally, it is clear that many potential advertisers do not test mobile due to inflexible cost structures by ad networks, agencies and developers.  Advertisers are not as cost sensitive as perceived and they simply want an opportunity to test mobile, evaluate results and invest further if it performs.
  3. Mobile TV – impressive but still a way to go: SPB Software presented their mobile TV offering which relies simply on wifi or 3G. The service was impressive when it actually worked, which took some doing. SPB’s offering includes picture-in-picture technology, image overlay on top of video, as well as their soon-to-launch interactive video advertising. Interestingly enough, I discovered that the company name SPB hails from their origin, St Petersburg, in Russia.
  4. More collaboration than online: It was fabulous to see major competitors side-by-side, happy to exchange notes. The online advertising business is far more competitive and even hostile, in my opinion. The open, co-operative approach was refreshing and perhaps gives some insight into why mobile ad spend is alerting faster than online ad spend.
  5. Game ads yield high value: Case studies offered by Fishlabs showed great campaigns developed for Barclay Card and VW. Using iPhone games to drive brand awareness, both these advertisers have achieved remarkable results in driving brand awareness by offering free, branded games on the App Store.  The Barclay Card Extreme Waterslide campaign supported a TV campaign and saw more than two million downloads in a month in the App Store.  It still generates 15 000 downloads a day, two years after the campaign.  Fishlabs reported that simpler games yield higher initial downloads, whilst more challenging games yield a more loyal, long term user base.

  6. Click-to-call, SMS, or visit mobi site? Different product offerings require different actions linked to a mobile ad, and perhaps even for different market segments.  For example, research shows that double the amount of men will click to call from an ad than women.  Certain products have users preferring one means of communication over another.  For example, hotel and travel-related ads perform better by directing users to a mobile-friendly site, whilst a motoring ad performs better if the click initiates a call.
  7. South Africa is highly regarded: The country, Africa’s economic powerhouse, is held up as a leading mobile market against which Europe closely tracks itself. Many SA players received mentions, including Cnectd, MXit, and Exact Mobile.



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