Mary Meeker’s recently published annual Internet trends report has become something of an annual event for the technology industry. Every year, Meeker, a venture capital analyst, compiles an insightful snapshot of the latest data on a wide range of topics on the digital economy, revealing where the Internet and related technologies are now and where they’re going. And, as usual, this year’s report uncovers some compelling opportunities for mobile, specifically mobile engagement.
With ad blocking establishing a barrier to marketing message delivery, we must as marketers evolve from pushing generic messages that damage the customer experience to delivering richer and more personal experiences that are based on context.
Among the more interesting findings in the report is that there is a huge unmet opportunity for mobile marketing. Mobile ads grew by 66 percent from 2014, compared to just 5 percent for desktop ads, and the mobile ad market in the U.S. is now estimated at $22 billion, based on data that shows people spending 25 percent of their time on mobile devices. However, spending on mobile ads still only accounts for 12 percent of the advertising pie.
This discrepancy points to a tremendous opportunity for mobile marketing and, consequently, mobile engagement. However, before mobile operators, internet companies and consumer brands can seize this opportunity, they will have to contend with two challenges.
The first of these is the rise of ad blocking. Today, one in five smartphone users, or almost 420 million people worldwide, block advertising when browsing the web on mobile phones, a 90 percent annual increase, according to PageFair and Priori Data. And in some major markets, ad blocking has a huge potential to take off since, in the U.S. for example, only 4.3 million people, or 2 percent of smartphone owners, now use ad blocking. While the practice of ad blocking continues to divide the internet world, clearly, some ad blocking is here to stay, and at least for now, seems likely to grow. As a result, while the Meeker report reveals a mobile advertising underinvestment, operators, OTT companies and consumer brands must determine a specific strategy to reap the value of mobile marketing in an age of ad blocking.
Ad blocking ties in directly to the second challenge confronting mobile marketers – moving from marketing to engagement. With ad blocking establishing a barrier to marketing message delivery, we must as marketers evolve from pushing generic messages that damage the customer experience to delivering richer and more personal experiences that are based on context.
As my colleague Rob Hammond recently wrote, with ad blocking “a consumer’s reaction to the ‘spike strips’ that have broken the customer experience,” it’s vital that marketers create experiences that delight customers by anticipating the needs on their journey. Mobile context enables this by allowing companies – with the explicit opt-in of mobile users – to gain insight into consumers’ preferences, and then act on this data to personalize services for them.
Corporate Vice President and Managing Director for Asia Pacific
These preferences can include everything from where they like to go to what kinds of products they like to purchase. Retail companies have been early adopters of using mobile context to engage consumers with notifications for special sales, coupons, and loyalty program rewards, but now all mobile marketers must embrace this asset to better connect to consumers in an age of ad blocking.
For our part at Syniverse, we’ve been increasingly bolstering our mobile engagement services to help brands better capture the mobile marketing opportunity cited in Meeker’s report. Our most recent effort on this front is our investment in Vibes, a mobile marketing innovator whose customer relationship management platform will enable us to expand and deepen our capabilities for such services as text messaging, mobile wallet, push notifications and mobile web campaigns.
In these ways, we join other mobile marketers in continually looking to help brands better connect with their customers and better tap the still underserved opportunity for mobile marketing driven by today’s mobile usage.