Although 90% of marketers in the UK now spend less than a fifth of their total marketing budget on mobile, a significant 66% of respondents to a late 2011 survey by Marketing Week expect the proportion of their marketing budget to increase significantly over the next few years.

Business, as we all know, is becoming more mobile; media is increasingly being consumed on mobile devices. As ever, the money will follow the audience’s eye balls.

Consumers, too, are now using phones to download video clips, listen to music, network, play games, search the net, and even read the news! Where they are doing all this is significantly changing, too. (More later.) However, while the majority of marketers believe mobile gives them the attractive opportunity for real-time, “on-the-go” engagement, the relevance of mobile will depend on the products and services being offered. In our industry’s case, news and entertainment products and the relevance of the target audience we’re able to reach with them.

Smartphones are increasingly the gateway to the online world, so there are likely to be shifts in the type of mobile marketing practiced in the future.

Time spent on mobile devices is increasing, so the need to invest in mobile apps is seen as critical, with 38% of (UK) marketers now using mobile apps as part of their overall marketing strategy.

The proliferation of smartphones accounts for the growing importance of a newsmedia mobile app strategy (as part of an overall mobile strategy). However, before we can contemplate putting any of this into action, we need to examine the key challenges faced with the usage patterns of our phones today, and then create services that people both want and find engaging.

To understand this, we first need to understand our audience’s behaviour — not just when interacting with us, but in life in general — and how they are using smartphones day to day.

Bearing this in mind, I was interested this week to see some new research on smartphones and tablets on the go — presented in March by UK’s Sky Broadband* — that showed 50% of UK adults own a smartphone.

Revealingly, they asked people about how they used their smartphones and tablets when they were on High Street. It portrays an interesting take on life today, which I am sure relates to experiences across the world:

  • 73% have used their phone when shopping.

  • 20% have taken a picture of themselves when shopping and uploaded it to get opinions from friends and family.

  • 31% have used their smartphones for social networking when on High Street.

  • 17% have used their smartphones to check in with a location-based service like foursquare or Facebook Places.

  • 23% have used their smartphones to check online for offers.

(When asked if they’ve checked prices online via their smartphones when they are on High Street or actually in a store, 22% of smartphone users said they have and ended up buying a product in-store. This compares to 19% who checked prices and then bought online — perhaps suggesting that smartphones are used more for reassurance on price rather than for undercutting high street shops.)

Sky also predicted 60% of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2014.

 The pace of change continues to evolve at break-neck speeds. Realising this, keeping up with it, and understanding how audiences behave is crucial to helping us develop future, relevant mobile services and to aid our advertisers’ choices.

* Source: Vision Central, commissioned by Sky Broadband March 2012