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5 key mobile trends and what they mean for your marketing strategy

Ad games are the most effective way to engage your target customers on mobile, but creating an ad game alone isn’t enough – you also need to think about who your target customers are, where they spend their timeand how to reach them. So when you’re designing an ad game campaign, it’s important to keep in mind the broader trends shaping the mobile advertising market.

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We recently spent some time at DMEXCO, the largest digital marketing conference in Europe, and saw a great presentation by Stephen Bardega, Chief Digital Officer at ZenithOptimedia, titled “The Mobile Imperative: Five Emerging Mobile Trends for Marketers”. We’ve summarized the five trends below and explained the implications for your brand’s mobile marketing strategy.

The world is approaching the mobile tipping point

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The trend

In 2015, people spent an average of 2 hours per day on mobile, or 33% of their total internet time. This number has been growing rapidly over the past few years, up from 20% in 2012. Not surprisingly, mobile usage is even higher among young people aged 16-24 (nearly 4 hours per day). When you look at these trends, it’s clear that we’re evolving toward a world where consumers spend the majority of their internet time on mobile. Young people will be the first age group to reach this tipping point, with mobile usage crossing the 50% threshold in most major markets by 2018.

What it means for you

In the past, advertisers tended to treat mobile as an afterthought. In today’s environment, this no longer makes sense. If you want to target your customers where they spend their time, mobile needs to be a core part of your marketing strategy.

There is a growing population of mobile first users

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The trend

“Mobile first users”, as defined by ZenithOptimedia, are people who spend over 90% of their total internet time on mobile. This group represents a small but growing percentage of the overall internet population. They’re young, urban and tend to be comfortable with mobile commerce, with over 25% of them having already made a purchase on mobile.

What it means for you

Mobile is critical for every advertiser, but it’s especially critical for brands that target young people. If you want to reach a youth audience, mobile is going to be your most important marketing platform.

The rise of global publishers makes it easier than ever for brands to reach their customers on mobile

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The trend

The shift from desktop to mobile has led to a change in peoples’ internet behavior, with some activities making the transition more smoothly than others. Two things that have faired particularly well are social media and video. According to a survey by ZenithOptimedia, Facebook reaching over 50% of total mobile users in most major markets around the world, with YouTube not far behind.

What it means for you

When it comes to mobile advertising, not all channels are created equal. In order to reach your target customers, you should focus on the apps and services where they spend most of their time. That means not just social media networks like Facebook and video platforms like YouTube, but also messaging services like WhatsApp and Messenger.

Mobile is having a disruptive effect on search

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The trend

Paid search is currently the largest segment of the digital advertising industry, accounting for $70 bn of the total $140 bn market. But in comparison to social media and video, search has had a rougher transition to mobile, with overall search engine usage declining over the past year. There are a few reasons for this decline, including:

  1. Smaller screens on mobile that make it harder to type a search query
  2. Consumers spending the majority of their time on mobile inside apps, where search is less relevant
  3. Social newsfeeds having displaced search as the primary way people discover content

One bright spot for the future of search on mobile is the growing popularity of voice search. ZenithOptimedia found that 23% of survey respondents have used voice search services, including Apple’s Siri, Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana. Of those people, 50% are using voice search more frequently now than they did a year ago.

What it means for you

For brands crafting their marketing strategy for mobile, paid search will be less important relative to desktop. To the extent that you do use paid search on mobile, you need to tweak your strategy to reflect the differences in behavior between voice-based and typing-based search.

The rise of ad blockers has raised serious questions about the future of advertising on the mobile web

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The trend

According to ZenithOptimedia, 27% of people use ad blocking software on desktop. With the release of iOS9, which makes it possible to enable ad blocking on iOS devices for the first time, the issue has become much more relevant for the mobile world. In addition to preventing ads from being served to consumers, ad blocking software prevents advertisers and publishers from tracking users’ online behavior. This makes it difficult to do targeting and remarketing, key techniques for improving the effectiveness of digital marketing.

What it means for you

The impact of ad blocking on mobile advertising is a subject of intense debate. Some people have called it thedeath of the web, while others have suggested that the issue is a red herring. The best way to shield yourself from the impact of ad blockers on mobile is to use native, in-app advertising formats like Facebook newsfeed ads, rather than mobile web banners.

For more info on the key emerging mobile trends for marketers, check out the full presentation here.

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