In Digital Marketing, Mobile is King


Every marketer knows that in today’s tech-filled world, digital marketingOpens a new window must be the focus. Likewise, we are all aware that within digital, mobile marketing is more than a potential strategy. Rather, it’s now a necessity.

A report released this week by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (in partnership with PwC) revealed that of the record-high $49.5 billion spent by US companies on digital advertising in the first half of 2018, 63% of that sum – $30.9 billion – went to mobile advertising.

While total digital ad spending rose year-on-year by an impressive 23% for that six-month period, mobile ad spend skyrocketed by more than 40%.

According to the IAB report, the sectors driving this uptick in digital spending besides mobile are ecommerce, video, music and podcasts. Note that each of those areas receive heavy amounts of use from consumers on mobile devices.

Clearly, mobile is now front-and-center for marketers as they look for strategies and technologies that will ensure their advertising campaigns are tailored to attract mobile-addicted, on-the-go consumers.Opens a new window

Indeed, IAB also found that a key factor propelling growth in the digital ad space has been a consumer preference for direct-to-consumer products and offerings, especially on social mediaOpens a new window . This digital-first strategy, where brands or product lines aren’t necessarily available in-store – rather, they are found online via web-based platforms – means that marketers and retailers increasingly benefit from using mobile to identify and target new customers.

Nike, for example, embraced this approach last year, restructuring its entire organization to transition towards a direct-to-consumer strategy that could “better serve the consumer personally, at scale.”

It may sound counter-intuitive for a retail giant like Nike to prioritize digital-first marketing, but it actually worked: The sportswear giant attributed a 13% revenue bump in Q4 2018 to campaigns like SNKRS Stash, which offered access to exclusive Nike sneakers only to some consumers based solely on mobile geo-location data.

This makes sense when you consider that although mobile and desktop are used by nearly two-thirds of people, 71% of time spent online is either through smartphones or tablets.

Mobile-first content for mobile-friendly advertising

Ok, so all your content doesn’t necessarily have to be “mobile-first.” But it definitely has to be mobile-friendly, i.e. regardless of the content format – written, video, image – it must be easily consumable on mobile devices.

With brands and companies spending more across the majority of digital formats, the IAB report highlights that marketers are seeking to better capture audiences on the platforms and devices they most frequently use.

The report credits younger generations’ readiness to embrace new digital formatsOpens a new window on mobile, particularly video and audio, as a driving force behind the growth in digital advertising.

Marketers should be aware that people want the content they read, watch and interact with to fit their on-the-go lifestyles. As such, the way we consume content online is evolving – and so is the way companies spend their ad budget.

Take, for instance, digital video advertising: 60% of the $7 billion spent in this sector in the first half of 2018 was specifically on mobile.

Similarly, mobile search advertising accounted for 59% of total search revenue, while nearly three-quarters of overall display ad revenue specifically went to mobile as well.

And as the influence of mobile strengthens its foothold in the world of marketing, new tools, coupled with developments in the programmatic ad buying space, are leading to more effective mobile advertising at lower price points. Crucially, this brings down the cost of customer acquisition – one of the marketing holy grails.

In line with this shift, the digital ad-buying landscape is likewise changing.

One revenue pricing model that will likely become more popular among marketers, especially on mobile, blends impression-based and performance-based KPIs. These hybrid models take into account how many people see each ad (impression-based) as well as the number of people that follow a call-to-action after seeing the ad (performance-based).

A growing monopoly

As I mentioned in a previous piece on optimizing martech stacksOpens a new window , a monopoly has begun to take shape within the martech industry. Digital ad spend in the US now goes to a couple players who control 62.2% of the market.

This dominance of the major platforms – Facebook, Google and Amazon – has made them the go-to sites for marketing teams.

As money continues to pour into mobile advertising, so too will the number of firms and brands that invest heavily on leveraging the many advertising opportunities available to them on these platforms. Admittedly, with the massive amounts of data they have on hand to target consumers, as well as the billions of people they can reach, the potential returns promised by these tech giants is tempting.

However, success on Facebook, Google and Amazon usually requires significant portions of marketing budgets. Meanwhile, although a viral ad could bring serious revenue, it’s equally common for substantial spending on advertising through these sites to have minimal ROI.

In the increasingly saturated digital advertising landscape, marketers will do well to remember that we operate in an industry where innovation is key. To stand out from the competition, marketers will need to find new ways to target and engage mobile consumers.