This is the year of mobile...again. 08 March , 2013

No, it’s not Groundhog Day…

We’ve all heard it time and again, the strident claim: “This is the year of mobile.” An overused statement? Possibly. One that rings true nevertheless? Certainly. Because, in fact, every year is the year in which mobile is stronger than it was the year before. And markedly so. According to the 2012 AMPS study there are currently over 29 million cellphone users in South Africa, whilst there are other stats out there that cite this figure at around 45 million. The reality may lie somewhere in between. It usually does. But there is no denying the massive and constant increase; with this figure having grown considerably from 2000 when a mere 17% of the population had mobile access. In this increasingly mobile world, we are constantly on the move and need/want to be connected at all times and in all places, and mobile trend predictions for 2013 and beyond, abound. Growth of applications, an increasing number of smartphones and tablets being sold and a significant shift in ad spend as marketers realise the need to reach their consumer on the mobile playing fields.

“As our consumer base in SA becomes more mobile savvy, there are more exciting things coming from the South African mobile market each year, but with these new developments it is vital to identify the challenges which may arise so we as mobile marketers can meet them head on,” comments Deseré Orrill, MD of MobiMedia, a boutique mobile marketing agency based in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Consumer concerns
Identifying the concerns of your consumer remains a priority with safety of information topping the list. As interaction in the mobile space increases, so too do concerns that information remains secure and private. According to a recent Global Privacy Report, released by mobile products and services company MEF, 37% of South Africans have no confidence their personal and billing information is kept private when using mobile applications. As mobile banking, cloud storage and releasing private information online is fast becoming the norm, providers need to ensure they put their consumers at ease with products that are 100% reliable and transparent. If your consumer does not trust you then you will not last long in the mobile space.

Invasion of privacy
With constant connectivity and multiple layers of online social interlinking comes the concern that the consumer’s private space is being invaded. While our goal as marketers is to get our message across, we need to ensure we do not intrude with unwanted spam. Targeting is essential to guarantee you are speaking to a relevant market. In this sense you are able to play to one of mobile’s main strengths as it is a highly targetable medium.

What’s ‘app-ening?
Whilst the increasing number of apps which come into the market each year are indicative of positive mobile growth, advertisers and mobile marketers now find themselves in a more competitive space. As such, ensure your apps not only stand out from the rest, but are easy to use and have been thoroughly tested. Consumers will not waste time on an app that does not work or is hard to understand. And while apps are a great way to bring your product across to your audience, relying on in-app advertising to fund the application is risky. Unsold advertising inventory is a revenue opportunity lost forever: but inventory sold to the wrong kind of advertisers could mean a client lost forever. So, exercise caution when selling your mobile inventory as a bad choice can have negative effects on your app and your business as a whole.

Remember you are in South Africa…
Apps are all the rage, yes, but don’t forget that you are living in South Africa, with an average smart phone market penetration of only 26.21%, according to a recent study released by the Digital Media and Marketing Association (DMMA). Apps are not going to cut it for you if you are promoting a product or service which has a largely mass market appeal. But, do not despair. You just have to be flexible in your approach and creative in your thinking. In broad terms, most of the functionality found in an application can be replicated on a mobisite, and often the functionality of a mobisite can be replicated using an effectively conceptualised USSD string. Be aware that you may need to find work-arounds to suit your local mobile environment.

Yes, it is the year of mobile, and yes mobile is the online of the future (or even of the now), so it’s a great space to be working in as the industry continues to grow and gain a mass market. However, with every opportunity there are challenges and we need to be aware of these. Embrace the trends, develop new apps and create exciting platforms to entice your targeted audience, but keep potential pitfalls top of mind to ensure you are successful.

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