The revolution will be mobilised


The words of Earl Wilkinson, closing the INMA World Congress, are still ringing in my ears:

“That 33% will affect your industry more than anything.”

Earl, executive director and CEO of INMA, was talking about the one-third of the mobile population that accesses the Internet on mobile phones – a population that is rapidly growing as the share of smartphones in the mobile universe has increased 58% in one year.

Read his lips: The mobile revolution “will affect your industry more than anything.”

One of the driving forces behind that is the huge gap between time spent and advertising dollars when you look at mobile versus newspapers. 

Last year, adults in the United States spent an average of one hour and five minutes a day on their mobile devices (a 10.1% share) versus 26 minutes for newspapers (a 4% share). But newspapers still grabbed a 15% share of the advertising dollars spent, compared to a mere 0.9% share for mobile.

As we’ve seen before, the advertising industry is much slower adapting to a new media channel than consumers. If you look at the numbers, it’s obvious. Here are the results from 680 global advertisers interviewed last year about mobile marketing by Chief Marketer:

  • Less than 15% have ever run mobile ads.

  • More than half say they don’t expect to try it in 2012.

  • Only 40% have a mobile-optimised Web site.

  • 14% say their Web sites allow mobile buying.

The advertisers’ slow adoption contrasts with the behaviour among consumers. Some findings from research conducted on more than 15,000 mobile users by the ad network InMobi:

  • Of 7.2 hours of daily media consumption, 27% is on mobile compared to 22% on TV.

  • 48% are influenced by mobile in their shopping decisions.

  • Mobile complements other media usage; 39% use mobile while watching TV.

  • Mobile users spend 22% of their time on social activities, 7% on local search and 8% on shopping.

  • Mobile users spend 19% of their time on entertainment, 18% on gaming.

This gap will close, but it creates a window of opportunity for newsmedia companies. They have to adapt faster than the money moves, get their mobile strategy together, and learn how to be relevant to consumers’ new behaviour.

It’s not an easy transition. Just redistributing content made for other platforms on smaller screens will not get it done.

“More than ever we need to aggressively rethink every facet of the journalism model,” Richard Gingras, Google’s head of news products, said at the INMA World Congress.

Nor will the traditional business model of advertising defy the opportunities created by the combination of mobility, connectivity, instant data, time, and location relevance.

Turn your eyeballs toward your feet – so to speak – and try to find relevant ways of charging for results rather than reach.

We need to view mobile advertising from a different perspective. Scott Seaborn, head of mobile at advertising agency Ogilvy, put it this way:

“Mobile is not all about banners and in-app advertising, but more about how people interact with information in a given situation.”

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