Mobile Internet to Boost Online Advertising?

14.Feb.11. OOX News

Mobile devices have been around for over a decade now, and advertising has tapped into such strategies like SMS marketing to reach audiences while on the move. Of course, traditional ad platforms such as TV and print are still the ‘weapon of choice’ for targeting consumers, and online and mobile marketing has been more of a sideline option for advertisers. However, with more and more internet-enabled mobiles being sold, and as telecom companies continue to develop mobile broadband services—is it possible that change is on the horizon?

Mobile internet access seems to intertwine the future of mobile advertising with that of online. What implications will this have on marketing strategies? And could mobile internet access mean a future boost for online advertising?

The Lead

In Alterian’s 8th annual marketer survey, 1,500 marketers from around the globe participated, and about 75 per cent of the respondents said that they expect an increase in their digital media expenditure for 2011 as compared to 2010.

Also, just last year, at the Conversational Marketing Summit held in New York, analyst Mary Meeker for Morgan Stanley pointed out that mobile and online advertising will soon overtake other media in the international arena. This conjecture was backed up by media-exposure-to-ad-spend ratios in the USA for 2009, hereby drawn from Meeker’s presentation;

Media Exposure Time
Ad Spend


While TV still holds the largest portion of audience exposure time, the Internet is clearly a formidable media as it takes up less of the Ad spend pie yet allows for good exposure time as well.

Meeker also predicted that Smartphone shipments will soon outnumber that of PCs in the US by 2012. Coupling this with the growing popularity of mobile apps and browsers amongst international users, Meeker has it that mobile internet may have the potential to become a major advertising medium. When consumers are not seated in front of the TV, or hooked on to their PCs—mobile internet might be the next big thing for marketers to reach target audiences.

Sounds promising? For markets like the US, UK, or Japan advertisers may already be banking more on mobile internet platforms. Though, the question is, could the same be said or predicted for MENA?

Tarek Karzon, Digital Media Director at Carat, Aegis Media, believes that mobile advertising will be part of traditional advertising media—however, not any time soon. At present, he estimates that mobile advertising takes up less than 1 percent of the media advertising revenue in the region, and that it is going to take more than three years for the mobile internet trend to catch on in MENA.

However, it is of interest to examine the factors that come into play in forecasting whether mobile internet will be boosting online advertising here in the future—near or distant. Following are what may be deemed as pre-requisites to the mobile internet advertising boom;

Smartphone Penetration – Reported in Zawya just last October, Smartphones comprised 13.8 per cent of the total sales in mobile devices. It is expected that this figure will grow to 28.8 per cent by 2015. Smartphone sales can be a barometer as they are mobiles that are—as a standard—internet-enabled. The number of Smartphones sold is half of the equation as to how many users have mobile internet access.

Infrastructure – the second half, and arguably the more important part of the equation is mobile service infrastructure. Are telecom companies in the region ready to supply mobile users with internet speeds ideal for browsing web content? And can they make such service packages appeal to consumers by selling at competitive prices? Making mobile internet connection affordable will do a lot to encourage users to access the web from mobile devices, thus boosting time spent online by target audiences.

Mobile Internet Experience – It is true that a handheld interface is not necessarily the best when it comes to browsing the web as it appears on PCs. Consequently, it is also not the best interface for viewing display ads and banners. However, the development of apps (e.g. Facebook apps, twitter, etc.) is slowly differentiating internet as it is experienced on a PC, and how it is experienced on a mobile. Adapting a mobile version of web browsing through apps creates a whole new platform for advertisers to engage their consumers.

Awareness Amongst Advertisers – Tarek Karzon believes that it is key to raise awareness amongst advertisers about just how far they can go with mobile advertising. Of course, the notion of marketing through the creation of apps is a new concept. As such, a lot of exploring needs to be done in order to find out just how advertising can be integrated into mobile apps. The question is, are advertisers in the region willing to pioneer this new territory on the digital horizon?

Mobile internet might just be the next boost for online advertising. If mobile internet advertising comes into fruition, it will enable marketers to reach audiences while they are on the move and away from media such as TV and print. It will also allow the same measurability offered by online advertising. However, this hypothesis is yet to be tested in MENA.

Will mobile internet advertising be given the chance to prove itself? This is a question not easily resolved as the answer is parted between users, service providers, and advertisers—each with its own role to play in launching the age of mobile internet in the region.

By Staff Reporter

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