March 27, 2012

Mobile Ad Growth

by Hisham Isa, Vice President (Marketing)

The Internet Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers are reporting that mobile ad spend jumped 157% in the UK to more than ₤200 million in 2011, driven largely by the rapid update of apps and social media, cheaper data packages and the increased use of mobile to watch online videos.

The IAB and PWC are spot on when it comes to measuring mobile ad growth, but we think they miss the mark a bit on the causes.

This week, I'll take a closer look at mobile ad spending as well as examine a key sector for future growth, mCommerce.

Growth by Numbers

The rise in mobile ad spend is neither a new trend nor unique to the UK.

Global traffic across the BuzzCity Ad Network more than doubled last year from 52 billion ads served in 2010 to 126 billion in 2011. This is the fourth straight year of triple digit growth across our network; in fact mobile ad delivery has doubled every year since we started the ad network in 2007.

Across Europe, we saw 141 percent growth last year. In Western Europe, the fastest growing mobile market is Spain (261%). France and Germany were up about 100 percent each. While impressive, these growth rates look small in comparison to markets farther east. Ad spend in Poland jumped 775 percent; Russia grew by more then 360 percent.

The UK mobile ad market meanwhile is not only experiencing fast growth, it's also one of BuzzCity's top ten markets globally. We served more than 1 billion ads there in the 4th quarter of 2011.

Outside of Europe, brands are similarly pumping more dollars into mobile advertising. Take a look at these growth rates:

Thailand / Vietnam
both > 400%
Latin America
United States

It's worth noting that we delivered more than 9.5 billion ads in India during Q4 '11. Thailand, Vietnam, Canada and the US are all top ten markets for BuzzCity as well, with at least 1 billion ads served every quarter.

What has contributed to the growth?

We see three main factors driving ad growth on our network . . . but only one of these is the same as that identified by IAB: cheaper data tariffs. In Vietnam, for example, for US$2 per month, there's unlimited surfing. And in the UK, for ₤10.50 a month can buy you a phone, 30 minutes talk time, unlimited text messages and free internet surfing.

Continued growth in the mobile industry is also being fueled by the prevalence of powerful affordable handphones, and not just the branded 'smartphones'. While it's true that Blackberry has the largest market share in the UK, Nokia feature phones and white box handsets are used for the bulk of surfing activity in most of our markets. For details on any particular country, just take a look at our Campaign Planner.

Finally, we're also seeing more quality mobile content, not just entertainment & news but useful and popular services like bus schedules, utility monitoring (household electricity, gas and water meter readings plus usage costs to date), exam results and ATM & toilet locators (don't tell me you haven't wished at times for an app or website that can help you with the latter!).

What will fuel further growth in 2012?

In a word: mCommerce.

As we survey the habits and preferences of mobile surfers, one trend quickly becomes apparent: consumers are hungry for information about products they want to buy.

In many cases, mobile consumers would like to be able to make the purchases online. But in others, they are simply happy with product information. Mobile coupons -- which are good for discounts when presented in a store -- make them even happier ; )

In particular, mobile users want online details about gadgets (electronics and small appliances), travel (tickets and accommodation) and physical media products like books, music and movies. These industries also show a high potential for repeat sales as indicated by consumers' intent to purchase, on top of existing consumer behaviour.

In the United States, online commerce (PCs and mobile) already accounts for more than 40 percent of all retail sales in many sectors. Expect to see similar trends in other markets this year. But more about mCommerce in my next article!

Related Article
mCommerce 2012