2013 Predictions: GreyStripe's Richard Sharp
But in the first half of 2012, mobile still accounted for just seven per cent of digital spend, so don’t expect mobile to become a mainstream medium in 2013, there’s a lot of work to do before that happens.
Rather it might be more reasonable to see 2012-2013 as the “end of the beginning” to pinch a Churchillian phrase. The sector now needs to focus on enabling brand decision makers to justify allocating ever great budgets.
From the marketer’s point of view, mobile must become easy to understand, more accessible and easier to quantify.
There are two ways to look at mobile’s future in terms of strategic media planning. The first is that mobile display is simply another channel to be added to a plan in parallel or in unison with online display, TV, posters, newspapers etc.
The second way to look at mobile, is a longer-term perspective. We are edging towards a world where most media is screen-based and where a very significant proportion of that will be internet-based and mobile.
So the future for brand marketing will become the art of integrating different screen experiences into a brand strategy and targeting individuals and small groups of people interested in a brand as they migrate between them.
In this context you can look at mobile as a primary platform on which different content channels; web display, social, video, news (formerly print) apps etc run.
But before we get to this scenario there are quite a few challenges that the mobile sector will need to address in 2013.
The elephant in the room
Measurement of in-app audience behaviour is of course the biggest challenge to tackle in 2013. Most studies show that consumers are using apps to access mobile web content and services more than browsing.
We’ve seen an increase in publishers creating their own apps, meaning they can track who is downloading and accessing their content, but it’s very difficult to create a joined up picture of campaign activity.
In 2013 we need to move on from this and provide advertisers with options to buy audiences across a range of publishers. To do this we need to solve the in app tracking problem. Solutions are emerging; at GreyStripe, we are currently looking at “fingerprinting” - pairing behaviours exhibited on online display to similar behaviours in mobile and grouping these behaviours together to create audiences to target.
By the end of the year, I predict this particular barrier to investment will have been largely removed.
RTB in waiting
Until the mobile sector effectively grasps the issue of in-app measurement, RTB isn’t going to influence the market, but when it does, RTB will have a positive shake-down effect, reducing the price of lower grade advertising and driving up the price of premium options.
How 4G will we be in 2013?
Of course the arrival of home broadband speed browsing on mobile devices should encourage consumers to access mobile web content through browsers rather than apps. This can only add impetus to mobile usage and marketing investment.
A third of the population in the UK already has access to 4G and as usual younger age groups will almost certainly drive adoption. But let’s face it, this is a longer game and 4G will probably not make a big impact during the coming twelve months.
Marketers want to know where mobile sits in the media plan. Most brands are working out how to use mobile devices strategically and in a way that will engage and not alienate consumers. They need realistic advice, including a constant reminder that handsets and tablets are a far more personal space than desktops or TVs.
Most clients are aiming to integrate brand strategies across digital platforms uniting online display with mobile platforms, which highlights how important cross platform tracking is to unlocking further investment
In 2013 will begin to see more sophisticated cross-platform strategies emerge and increasing thought focused on how consumers use different types of mobile hardware from smartphone handsets to tablets, mini-tablets, netbooks, ultrabooks and inevitably new forms that haven’t been launched yet.
The benefits of standardising formats and rules are obvious, every other medium does it and mobile should be no different so an important call to action for the coming twelve months has to be an open dialogue on standardisation.
Talk media not tech
Mobile is more complex than online and for the uninitiated it can seem impenetrable, so demystification can only be good business. If there is one thing everyone in the mobile business should do in 2013, it’s use less jargon and talk about mobile as a media channel that attracts audiences and interest groups.
So there’s a lot on the to-do list. We won’t necessarily reach Churchill’s sunlit uplands in 2013, but we are on the way. There are big challenges, but there are solutions emerging and consumer’s appetite for mobile technology and content will mean brands will follow the eyeballs, through next year and beyond.
Richard Sharp is UK managing director of GreyStripe