Mobile Media Mindblast

Mobile marketing and advertising spend in South Africa is set to grow to R1-billion by 2012, it emerged from the Vodacom-, MXit- and Google-sponsored Mobile Media Mindblast conference held in Cape Town in early June.

In the last year local mobile ad revenues – for display, search and message-based ads – totalled some R500-million; year-on-year growth trends indicate that this figure will double by 2012.

“Previous estimates have dramatically underestimated the size of the mobile advertising industry as they focused on reports submitted to the DMMA by online publishers,” says Jason Probert, head of Vodacom Mobile Media. “When you take into account the entire mobile advertising ecosystem and include mobile ad networks like AdMob, operator services like Apple, mobile search and social networks like MXit, the picture is dramatically different.”

Juan du Toit, head of international business development and marketing for MXit, believes that South Africa will see substantial growth in media performance on mobile platforms this year and in 2012.

“The way that consumers interact with brands is evolving rapidly,” he says. “Media strategists know that mobile media campaigns deepen the engagement and relevance of brands within their target markets. One of MXit’s core strengths to an advertiser is our ability to create and grow communities of loyal brand consumers and activists, which, in turn, offers an intriguing and difficult-to-ignore value proposition for the South African marketing industry.”

Also at the Mobile Media Mindblast conference, renowned international speaker Joseph Jaffe explored the aggressive mobile growth trends and what they mean for brands and marketers in South Africa.

In addition, speakers gave advice on how brands and marketers can harness this growth, and shed light on successful mobile marketing tactics to reach the target audience. Topics included the latest on mobile social networking, the advantages of permission-based mobile messaging and the benefits of marketing through local search. A panel discussion featured successful mobile case studies by leading South African brands and agencies.

Brett St Claire, head of Google Mobile, believes the conference was a sign of mobile marketing’s rising influence. “We’ve had a fantastic response since we announced the conference a while back and we were almost booked to capacity from both the brands and agency sides,” he says. “The popularity of Mobile Media Mindblast is a testament that marketers feel that they can no longer ignore mobile’s aggressive growth and that they need to learn more about this space and.”

More key growth trends

According to recent reports, global mobile advertising spend is expected to grow by 50% a year, from $12.6-billion in 2011 to $41.8-billion by 2015. Display advertising is the biggest format in the mix, currently making up $6.8-billion, followed by mobile search at $3-billion and in-app advertising third with $2.2-billion. The remaining spend is made up of messaging, streaming music, mobile TV and mobile video.

In South Africa mobile messaging ads lead the way, followed by display and in-app formats. Some 35-million branded “please call me” messages are sent out daily, resulting in 1.6-billion impressions served annually. The typical global mobile browsing session involve five to eight mobile websites.

In countries like South Africa and the other BRICS countries Brazil, Russia, India and China, mobile is considered the primary screen, as opposed to in the US and Western Europe where it is viewed as merely an extension of the web. In China the growth rate for mobile ads is more than double that of the US.

In emerging markets, mobile is the primary gateway to the internet. This, with cheaper data rates and more affordable smartphones, is considered to be the main driving force of its phenomenal growth in South Africa. The country’s low internet connectivity penetration (10%) and high broadband costs will further drive consumers to mobile.

Mobile social networking

Globally spend on social networks is expected to increase by 71.6% to $5.97-billion, approximately 8.7% of the total predicted online spend in 2011. According to eMarketer’s predictions mobile advertising is growing faster than social media advertising.

MXit is perhaps the best testament to the growth potential and interest in the South African mobile media space. As the largest mobile social network on the African continent, MXit continues to expand its community by between 45 000 and 50 000 new users a day. It has more than tripled its user base to close on 37-million users in the last two years and has a bigger reach than any other social network in Southern Africa, including Facebook and Twitter.

MXit, which started as an instant messaging platform in 2006, has since evolved into a fully integrated mobile social platform that offers a spread of features, tools and social upliftment portals that keep consumers excited, interested and participative.

Other media

Global research shows that one-way media advertising like, print and radio are in steep decline. Print advertising is expected to drop by 6% to $21.4-billion by the end of 2011.

If current growth rates continue, global digital ad spend will completely overtake television spend in the not-too-distant future. In 2010 US online advertising ($26-billion) already surpassed spend on newspapers ($22.8-billion) and radio ($15.3-billion).