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In Praise of Mobile

Beliefs are simple, often brutally so. In advertising, as with so many other facets of our lives, simplicity should be our ultimate goal. 

We all need to believe in something; judges believe in the law, priests believe in God and journalists believe in scoops. Our firmest beliefs are those to which we are most committed: Take them away and you are left with an arch without its keystone. Beliefs are simple, often brutally so. In advertising, as with so many other facets of our lives, simplicity should be our ultimate goal.

This is why ‘Brutal Simplicity of Thought’ is M&C Saatchi’s guiding philosophy. This attitude can apply to all facets of advertising, including mobile, which is becoming increasingly important to brands as an advertising medium. The mobile landscape in 2013 can appear incredibly complex, arguably more complex than it needs to be. The sheer variety of phone types and operating systems, coupled with multiple advertising formats, tracking concerns, DSPs and real-time bidding (RTB) means that it’s a world away from buying ad space on bus shelters.

As brands increasingly come to embrace mobile, they need not be baffled or even intimidated by what lies ahead. Legitimate concerns such as tracking, return on investment and technical complexities can be assuaged by working with a partner who can take all of the worry away. A good specialist mobile agency will help to reduce the complexity of mobile and retain the simplicity that needs to govern a brand’s advertising outlook.

Explosive growth

The explosive growth of mobile advertising, as well as its capabilities, never ceases to amaze. Mobile advertising has proven itself to be a major advertising platform. According to the mobile ad exchange, Smaato, it generated global revenues of $6.43bn in 2012 and this is projected to rise to £19.7bn by 2017. 2013 is shaping up to be the biggest year for mobile so far, as more consumers than ever shift over to smartphones and tablets: more than 25m iOS and Android devices were activated globally in the period following Christmas alone.

These numbers support the trends we saw in 2012, as smartphones overtook feature phones and opened up new opportunities for rich and engaging mobile advertising. There was also the launch of wi-fi on the London Underground, and soon we’ll see wi-fi rolled out across London’s iconic black cabs, so the opportunities for mobile advertising to continue evolving are huge.

The other big trend for the year ahead will be 4G, as we see 4G becoming more widely available across the UK. The technology behind 4G, LTE, is up to five times faster than 3G. While at the moment, EE is the only 4G network, in May the other major networks will launch their own 4G services. This should have a direct effect on the amount of rich media advertising that will be offered to consumers.

Rich Media should provide a much more interactive advertising format, giving brands the chance to really embrace the latest technology, benefit from higher-quality creative content, and experience increased user engagement through the innovative usage of a smartphone’s capabilities. Data from the Internet Advertising Bureau showed that spend in the UK on text ads and display banners was £41m in the first half of last year, with 20 per cent of this going on rich media adverts. It will take a while, but 4G could usher in significant changes.

Tipping point

In 2012, sales of the PC, a staple of the home and office since the early 90s, began to decline. In 2013, the PC looks set to become eclipsed by the rise of portable, connected tablets. The iPad and iPad Mini have been huge drivers for such adoption, but they still represent a prohibitive price point for many people.

The recent introduction of two 7-inch devices, the Amazon Kindle and the Google Nexus 7 at around £150, are likely to prove the tipping point that will usher in mass market adoption of tablets and create a significantly bigger market for advertisers. Recent data from NPD DisplaySearch suggests that 240m tablet devices will be shipped globally during 2013, a 64 per cent increase on tablet shipments from 2012. Of these, tablets with 7- 8-inch screen sizes are expected to account for 45 per cent, or 108m units, of the tablet PC.

Advertising is about targeting the right person at the right time, and now mobile enables a much greater degree of granularity via geo-location and real-time bidding. Through location-awareness, brands can serve adverts when the ‘right’ consumer is near their store. Retailers can now geo-fence within a certain distance around their stores to serve ads when the ‘right’ customer is near.

Data from location-based advertising specialist Verve reveals that the restaurant and retail sectors are the biggest users of geo-aware and geo-fenced campaigns with click through rates over 2 per cent (even over 4 per cent in some cases) which is significantly above the 0.4 per cent industry average. It’s a revolution in advertising, messaging and branding. We recently ran a campaign at a London football stadium where we were able to instantly deliver a brand message to 40,000 football fans. A message that stayed in their pockets, a message they took home with them.

Real-time bidding

Real-time bidding is also becoming an increasing reality on mobile. The rise of the mobile Demand Side Platform (DSP) in 2013 will further enable brands to target customers based on a multitude of criteria, of which location is but one. This must be slightly tempered with the fact that there is still not the volume of inventory to support 100 per cent RTB campaigns, but the market is heading in that direction. A recent report from Adfonic found that the average uplift for clickthrough rates for RTB adverts versus non-RTB adverts is 97 per cent, especially when combined with rich media.

In this new complex mobile world, it’s often easier to complicate than to simplify. What brands require is an approach to help them creatively cut through the noise. They need to be able to leave the hard stuff to the experts so that they can focus on what they’ve always done best which is to focus on the core message and not worry about the medium. More than ever, mobile requires what all other advertising mediums need to deliver: brutal simplicity of thought.

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