Device proliferation is driving the digital ad market

Gai Le Roy

Gai Le Roy is the director of research at IAB Australia, chairing the bureau’s Australia Measurement and Research Councils. She also leads the Mobile Advertising Council’s measurement and research projects. Gai has a wealth of experience in online media, digital strategy, insights, marketing and research, and was formerly GM of audience insights and research at Fairfax Media. She previously worked as insights manager at ninemsn for 10 years and was also VP of research and audience measurement at Nielsen Online.

Last month, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Australia announced the digital ad market in Australia had reached $3.6 billion for the financial year 2013, a growth rate of nearly 15 per cent over the previous year.

That’s a great milestone in light of the overall weak advertising market, but it leaves hanging an obvious question from most marketers: “What does it mean for my brand and what should I be doing to keep up with the market”?

Before I attempt to answer that, I should point out it is expected 70 per cent of Australians will own a smartphone by the end of this year, and 50 per cent will have a tablet. So it’s not surprising the fastest growing sector of the digital advertising market is mobile – it actually outpaced all other online advertising formats to achieve 190 per cent growth last financial year and reached $138 million.

That single piece of data should possibly be the most important consideration for CMOs at present. The growth in mobile ad revenue shows little sign of abating, so media and marketing organisations and departments will need to start investing in resources to address mobile marketing. In turn, this increased investment will help the market grow in a sustainable way, allowing it to move beyond what we would consider the current testing phase and help marketers gain better insights into ROI on these new platforms.

Perhaps that’s a chicken and egg scenario – start using mobile and it will get even better – but Australians are among the most prolific adopters of mobile technology in the world. Recent research from Nielsen stated nearly one fifth of Australian households have four or more connected devices in their homes. Increases in the number of devices owned per person, and the increase in usage the longer a person owns a new device, are both combining to drive up the net marketing opportunities on both smartphones and tablets. In fact Nielsen reported in July 2013* that 38 per cent of daily users were accessing online content via a mobile device. Can you afford to miss those consumers?

It’s an interesting shift for marketers to take on-board as historically it was marketers leading consumers. Today, consumers are leading the market with their technology shifts and marketers are racing to catch up. It’s the new reality and the rate of change by consumers will only increase.

Although Australian consumers are world leaders in consuming mobile content, the Australian media, advertisers and marketers have been slower to embrace mobile and ramp up their strategies to address this growing available pool of consumer marketing opportunities. If you are partial to hard data to back this view, then look no further than the fact that mobile ad spend in the US and UK represents 10 per cent and 9 per cent respectively of their total spend – while in Australia markets spend just 5 per cent on mobile.

That leaves an incredible opportunity for smart, well resourced and agile organisations.

One thing all marketers need to keep in mind is that the Australian mobile ad spend is split almost evenly between tablets and smartphones, so don’t just roll out one solution for ‘mobile’ as the behaviour of consumers, the creative advantages and actually mobility of tablets and smartphones differs greatly. And don’t be afraid to get quite specific .

I have always been a great fan of planning marketing communications, both advertising and direct brand marketing, by time of day. Now that consumers tend to have a mobile device (and hence a media screen) with them at all times, we can be even more specific with our targeting - whether you want commuters on their smartphones in peak hour or consumers watching video on their tablet late at night.

In the end though, it really is a case of marketers going back to what they do best. Review consumer behaviour, monitor ROI, innovate and test new strategies. Oh – and keep moving (quickly).

* Nielsen, Australian Connected Consumers, February 2013

Tags: mobile advertising, mobile marketing

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