Mobile is now a daily part of life. But there are still many more questions than answers when looking at the future for media companies. What actually is “mobile”? What will it become?

How we view engagement and monetisation of mobile in the future, and how we can exploit coming technology, will shape an ever-increasing mobile world. In a live Webinar on Wednesday, Mark Challinor, CEO of Media Futures and former INMA president, delved into this topic to share data and trends on the future of mobile.

The future of mobile has both good and bad news; but the reality is that no one really knows for sure what will happen, he said.

“In my opinion it’s largely about what we do in the space today,” Challinor said. Cracking the code on the smartphone is critical.

Mobile is already the primary delivery medium for TMR: “Eighteen million people only come by mobile today,” Challinor said, speaking of media Web site traffic. “For me, mobile is all about tech plus creativity plus data to get closer to our audiences. What it’s about for me is creating a better experience through mobile.”

The opportunities around mobile today are huge in this new and improved experience, along with the increase in bandwidth and better content.

Challinor began by posing the question of how we define mobile. Is it tech, is it a device, or is it behaviour?

Mark Challinor challenged Webinar attendees to consider what mobile really means.
Mark Challinor challenged Webinar attendees to consider what mobile really means.

What do the market trends tell us?

The first thing Challinor looked at was the global snapshot of the mobile ecosystem:

  • It has established itself as the No. 1 position globally.
  • App time is a larger contributor than mobile Web.
  • Apps drive dominant share of mobile time in all markets.
  • Mobile banking and retail are reaching relative parity with desktop (purchases are falling in percentages, but the actual money sales are up).

The average user in the United Kingdom has 36 mobile apps on their phone, but they only regularly use about five. Tech will enhance apps and open doors to publishers to communicate with their consumers in a more personal.

“I think Web and apps will get more similar,” Challinor said. “We’ll see more interaction between apps and Web going forward.”

What new mobile tech is likely to win?

Frictionless mobile payments is a big one. Challinor gave an example of Spotify, which says that news media companies are doing it all wrong. Typically for news media subscriptions, the customer is required to fill out all their personal and detailed credit card information up front. Spotify, on the other hand, uses mobile wallets and digital payments to get the money up front — quickly and seamlessly for the consumer.

Mobile wallets, the service that lets consumers manage digitised valuable, will also increase. The benefits are that it drives traffic, creates opportunities, and offers better data analytics.

Companies like Airbnb and Uber are taking mobile commerce into stores and are revolutionising the way we make payments in restaurants and bars. Starbucks is another good example, with its frictionless app with the ability to order your coffee on the way and have it ready to pick up — already paid for — when you arrive.

“I think the future of mobile payments lies not just in the payments themselves, but into product information, offers and coupons, and loyalty rewards,” Challinor said. “I think going forward we are going to see a huge rise in things like micro-payments for in-app purchases.” Other coming trends are carrier billing solutions and mobile ticketing services.

Mobile video

The traffic for mobile video is booming, Challinor said: “If you actually look at things like smartphone sales, they are increasing. More people are moving from their desktop to their mobile screens.”

Technology improvements and the ability for consumers to create make this a very attractive space. Standard ads versus video ads are hugely different, with video ads far outperforming. By the end of 2018, 69% of all mobile traffic will be video.

Data shows “the perfect length of a video ad, is about seven to 10 seconds,” Challinor said. “That’s the sweet spot.”

Primary growth drivers in digital video

A State of the Marketing Industry survey was done asking what mobile video attributes has the most significance for the marketing industry. The results:

  • Better quality creative: 54%.
  • Better loading times and user experience: 53%.
  • Better targeting/personalisation of video ads: 54%.
  • Integrated video/ad units: 42%.
  • Shift from other ad types: 37%.
  • Outstream: 35%.

mVideo is the key growth driver for digital ad spend. 2017 saw mobile video ads as the fastest growing online format. Video ad spend was up last year by 47%, and 73% of that is now on smartphones.

The future of mobile holds both bad and good news; understanding these nuances can drive growth and success.
The future of mobile holds both bad and good news; understanding these nuances can drive growth and success.

Mobile advertising

Mobile advertising is proving effective across the entire purchase funnel:

  • 75% of survey respondents said they had been introduced to something new via their mobile device.
  • 67% felt it had provided them with better options.
  • 45% also stated that mobile advertising had influenced their in-store buying, in a study of 15,000 mobile users done by InMobi.

“What other channels can do such things?” Challinor asked. “We’re going to see more things like overlays, rich media, and more sponsorship opportunities going forward.”

Mobile continues to fuel the native advertising debate. The reason is because creativity matters in mobile. “Customers expectations from the space are sky high,” Challinor said. “What we need to do is to exceed their expectations.”

He played a video about Amazon’s Echo product as an example:

Voice is the Internet of mobile things. “Mobile will act more and more like a personal assistant going forward,” Challinor said. “Smartphones will just get smarter and smarter.”

In addition to helping with chores and errands, voice can understand habits and help monitor objects around us.

Challinor referenced the Reuters Institute Media Trends 2018 report for a wealth of information:

  1. Over half of publishers say they’ll be focusing on content for AI speakers/intelligent agents.
  2. Voice driven assistants are emerging as the next big disrupter.
  3. Publishers are also cycling new opportunities in audio content such as podcasts.
  4. Augmented reality capable phones will start to unlock the possibilities of 3D and immersive mobile storytelling (look at Apple’s new AR development kit), while wearable technology will be huge.

“We’ll be collecting more and more data; it is the Holy Grail of digital media,” Challinor said. “We must extract it, manipulate it, and use it to our advantage going forward. What we need to do is turn data into smart data.”

This is done through knowing information like how frequently your customers visit your site, what device are they using to access it, and how frequently do they browse on desktop via mobile, etc.

“Going forward, we will all become our own personal data banks. But we need to re-establish trust with our customers in this arena. We can’t assume that their prior trust will just transfer over to this space,” Challinor said.

The Five Ps

Challinor shared what he called the Five P must-knows of future mobile strategy building

  • Presence: being there in the right mobile moment.
  • Personalisation: contextually relevant and data-led.
  • Presentation: as native as possible and building emotional connection.
  • Peer to peer: shareable content and social platforms.
  • Performance: Make things fast and frictionless, with a smooth content loadline.

There are also 10 important mobile trends for 2018 that publishers should be aware of:

  1. More mobile devices.
  2. Simpler mCommerce (memberships/subscriptions/couponing).
  3. Native/creative ad inventory will increase (including video).
  4. Viewability/ROI key.
  5. Ads will be more engaging/blending (native).
  6. People-based marketing with better experiences.
  7. New mTch rises (AI, AR, VR).
  8. Data from “things.”
  9. More linking to social media.
  10. Wearables.

“We don’t know where we are. It’s still a new strategy we’re building,” Challinor said. “We need to seek people who can work above the API, people who can think creatively about the space.”

Ways to “future proof” mobile strategy include improving consumer relevance and putting mobile creativity as a dominant position in your advertising strategy.

One of these is knowing the key attributes of future mobile devices:

  • Smarter facial ID.
  • Shifting reality.
  • Devices more durable, flexible, and even foldable.
  • No charging; well, less charging.
  • Virtual buttons and assistants.

“Ultimately, it’s all about having a better user experience,” Challinor said. Removing all those annoying formats such as pop-ads, which should be replaced by native advertising that is creative and format-friendly. Take the most popular products, and make them easy to buy.

Setting clear targets and having incentives for sales people is important, and measure and compare to know what’s working. Develop an m-presence where your audience lives.

Challinor concluded with some key takeaways on mobile:

  • Think about your future audiences and where they will be.
  • Remember it’s still all a new space for everyone; there’s no panacea.
  • Mobile strategies should be tailored. Explore experiments and culture change.
  • It’s not just about making money.
  • Seek out people who can work “above the API.”
  • Innovate with mutli-platform, bespoke, relevant services.
  • Make customers feel important, and engage them.

“We need to be using the future mobile strategy in a different way,” Challinor said. “How will you use mobile tools to attract attention, and how will they attract to specific products and services? And then how is it converting — is it fast and is it frictionless?”

All of this funnels into customer loyalty. The connected consumer is about understanding audience, enabling audience, removing barriers to access, and being of service to the audience.

Q&A

INMA: What are the conversion rates with the mobile wallett?

Challinor: You see that mostly in the retail sector at the moment, and it can vary from country to country and market to market. But overall we are seeing around 35% of people converting to a mobile wallet when offered it.

INMA: Do you have information on the actual time spent on apps?

Challinor: The actual time on apps is less than it was a year ago; but that’s because things like cumbersome payment technology has gotten better. The money is actually up; we need to continue to make things easy, frictionless, and fast for them.

INMA: Do you differentiate SMS from push notifications?

Challinor: Yes I do see them separately; SMS is still a hugely powerful tool. Push notifications I regard as more in the space of something specific we need to tell them; but be careful not to overload it because people will turn it off if you send too many. You need to work out very carefully with the audience you have, for what is best for them.