The tipping point: Why smartphone advertising may be set to soar
(City A.M. (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) MOBILE is the future" - we've heard it so many times it's almost become a platitude. But while consumers have flooded into the smartphone market with haste (the chief executive of the Internet Advertising Bureau recently forecast that UK penetration will reach 75 per cent this year), ad spend is making the transition at a crawl.
In the first half of 2013, mobile accounted for just 14 per cent of UK digital spend, up from 2 per cent in 2010. Leading advertising platforms like Facebook and Twitter, by contrast, now take the majority of their revenue through mobile - 53 and 75 per cent respectively.
According to James Harris of Mediabrands, the lag can in part be explained by a natural delay between technological developments and media planning strategies. "We saw a lot of agencies buying expensive mobile development companies without really knowing what to do with them." But where eyeballs move, says Paul Coggins of Ebuzzing, smart money will eventually follow: "I think we've cracked mobile now - we're at a tipping point, and it could well snowball from here."
One key development has been the harnessing of inbuilt hardware, including cameras and accelerometers (the device measuring tilt and rotation in a smartphone). James Chandler, head of mobile at Mindshare UK, highlights his agency's work with hairdresser Toni & Guy as an example. "We used the smartphone camera to allow people to take a photo of themselves. They could then scroll through a variety of superimposed hairstyles and share them with friends." Compared to the traditional approach of transferring a desktop-style banner onto the smaller mobile screen, these campaigns are far more engaging.
Beyond the use of smartphone hardware, Harris sees the "second screen experience" as key to the future of mobile advertising. "You've got to think about connectivity, and how the different platforms can be integrated. These days, TV and Twitter go hand-in-hand." Shazam, the audio recognition software which has been in existence for over a decade, can now serve as a crucial connecting point between different media. Mindshare's work with Jaguar is a case in point.
Shazam can recognise the music from Jaguar's TV campaign, automatically linking audiences through to an in-car simulation on their smartphone. The viewer then uses the accelerometer to look around the inside of the vehicle. "Increasingly, we see it as a pull model, rather than a push," says Harris. Through the connectivity of smartphones, marketers can induce the audience through to new content.
Liam Ward-Proud is business features writer at City A.M.
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