In no continent is the mobile revolution more pronounced than in Asia. A wider trend of increased connectivity rates in the region is sweeping APAC's less developed countries, with a Deloitte study finding that the improvements can offer a country $2.2 trillion in additional GDP, a 72% rise in the GDP growth rate and more than 140 million new jobs. And, with the increase in connectivity potentially lifting 160 million people out of extreme poverty, companies are ready to exploit the impending growth.
Mobile is growing exponentially in the East. Smartphone penetration in Singapore and South Korea, for example, is ranked 2nd and 4th in the world at 88% and 83% respectively - by contrast, the US and the UK come in at 34th and 19th. Other Asian countries are similarly high on the list, so the potential for m-commerce is increasingly great in the world's largest and most populated continent.
Mobile marketing is following suit, as the shift from in-store to e-commerce takes its next step toward m-commerce, and the statistics from across Asia are convincing. In Vietnam, mobile impressions doubled in a year from 7% to 14%, a rise expected to continue at a dizzying rate. In Indonesia, the 25% decrease in CPMs is allowing advertisers to reach a potentially wider audience at a greatly reduced fee. And, in Japan, pre-roll video content rose by 32% in the last quarter of 2015 alone, and 302% in the entire year. 27% of all e-commerce in South East Asia happens on mobile - a similar level to the likes of Spain and Italy, just behind the US - and that number is only expected to rise greatly over the next few years.
In short, the potential of mobile marketing in Asia is vast, and there are a number of hubs that advertisers are likely to focus on. Hong Kong and Singapore for example, thanks to their dense populations and round-the-clock, competitive workforce, are already identifying themselves as hubs of smartphone usage. In these countries, more so than in the region's rural or sparsely populated countries, mobile is well and truly on top. And advertisers are catching up with the shift towards people enjoying content on mobile. A data point for marketers to focus on is that, by 2020, there will be 1.6 billion new smartphone connections in the region.
In the less developed areas of Asia, the challenge of visual storytelling and the use of digital media is demanding creative solutions. Though 32.3% of total media ad spend is spent digitally - the largest share of anywhere in the world - 4G is non-existent in a great deal of APAC countries. Connections are often poor, so the focus on video content is not necessarily viable. Marketers are finding ways to make an impact in these less-connected areas; for example the use of slideshow-like, easy to load video content, and there are a number of companies dedicated to helping brands adapt their contact for under-connected areas. Brands are also focusing their social media efforts, with the likes of Dr. Martens and TRESemmé - to name just two - managing nation-specific Instagram accounts in an effort to build their local presence. Asia is the fastest growing market in terms of visual storytelling platforms, and brands are poised to exploit that growth.
An area of interest in the coming years will be India. The world's second most populated country is set to see a pronounced growth in mobile marketing, with eMarketer estimating that its total spend of $173.2 million in 2015 will double to around $346.5 million in 2016, meaning mobile ad spending will account for nearly a third of digital ad spending. By 2019, the number will have risen to nearly two-thirds. India is currently behind APAC's leaders in connectivity and smartphone penetration, but is quickly catching up and, when a country of over 1.2 billion is up to speed, the opportunities for mobile marketing will be almost limitless.