The mobile boom - a headache or a blessing?

An independent analysis from a publishers perspective


The rise of digital brought a lot of changes to marketing as we knew it, but there’s one fundamental paradigm that will always remain the same. You go where your clients are.

In today’s mobile-dominated environment, this applies to brands and publishers alike, who are both struggling for reader attention. We all repeated the “mobile will surpass desktop” mantra during the last few years, but some failed to act. And now that this has actually happened, Google still found it necessary to push publishers in the right, mobile-friendly direction. Or else…

So, facts are facts and it’s high time to embrace the change, instead of complaining about it. Sure, advertisers push for 100% viewability, redesigns are expensive and time-consuming, precise geo-targeting data is hard to deliver and monetization strategy has to be converted from desktop- to mobile-first. But hey, according to KPCB’s 2015 Internet Trends Report, 24% of media consumption time is spent on mobile devices, while mobile ad spend accounts for just 8%. This gap leaves an opportunity for $25+ billion in the US alone, and who wouldn’t want to tap into that.

Moreover, eMarketer predicts that mobile ad spend will surpass $100 billion by 2016, accounting for 51% of all digital advertising. Now, all publishers need to do is pay close attention to the facts and use them to their advantage.

Emerging markets matter

A few years back, while attending a conference on emerging digital markets, I was surprised to learn that a lot of people in Africa have “seen” The Internet only through the screens of their feature phones. As it turns out, a similar trend still exists in a lot of developing regions, where we’re not just talking about mobile-first, but mobile-only. KPCB’s data shows that currently there are 2.1 billion smartphone subscriptions worldwide and this number will only rise, mostly due to the enormous adoption rate in emerging markets. Countries like China, India and Brazil are leading the way, and the constantly increasing mobile penetration there would lead to a 90% - 120% YoY ad spend increase, eMarketer reports. This trend would undoubtedly have a positive effect on the value and number of visits from emerging markets, so publishers and app developers would be leaving money on the table if they don’t take that fact into consideration.

Say no to 100% viewability

True enough, this is a buyer’s market and supply for mobile impressions is certainly higher than demand. This, however, does not make the claim for 100% viewability any less ridiculous. Brands and agencies are well aware of the fact that the only way you can ensure full ad visibility would involve the use of a device, similar to the one enforced on Alex in 'A Clockwork Orange.'

Furthermore, there’s no unified definition of what a viewed impression is, let alone a technology, which is able to accurately measure it. The inherent issue of different mobile device screens doesn’t help either. Of course, both publishers and advertisers would benefit from less wasted impressions and perhaps a widely accepted IAB standard would be the best solution for the viewability issue.

Mobile doesn’t have to mean less impact

There was a time when creative agencies felt constrained by slow data transfer and limited real estate on mobile. Now, however, brands are excited about new, mobile-friendly ad formats like motion-based cinematics and 5-second videos. A mobile impression also has the added value of geolocation (true enough, if the user allows it) so advertisers can better target their messages. This does sound like a good opportunity for the publishers, doesn’t it? Testing new, high impact mobile units should be among the priorities, because this is what brands and agencies are looking for.

Video, Video, Video

Mobile usage seems to have grown almost seamlessly from texting, to images, to video, which now represents over 55% of all mobile traffic. And readers, or should I say, viewers love it. According to IAB data, last year US users spent 50% more time on mobile video and the rate of increase is similar for other major markets too. It’s only natural that advertisers would be interested in this trend, which means publishers need to focus on creating new video content and increasing the yield of what they already have available.

The rise of mobile creates huge opportunities for brands and publishers alike and challenges seem to be similar to the ones we faced at the beginning of the digital revolution. This brings us right back to where we started - you go where your clients are. And as you go there, you need to adapt and embrace the change, because it is inevitable.


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