Mobile phones are the most widely used technology in the world. At the end of this year, there will be 5,8bn people with mobile devices, meaning there are twice as many mobile users as Internet users. Consequently, there are myriad opportunities to make a fortune for those who get it right.
These are the views of author and consultant Tomi Ahonen, who was speaking at the Mobile Web Africa conference in Johannesburg on Thursday. Ahonen says companies whose advertising agencies don’t have a mobile plan should “get a new agency” because companies without mobile strategies may find themselves without customers in years to come.
Ahonen says mobile is a far speedier way to reach consumers than other digital channels. A study conducted in New Zealand found that the average e-mail is read 48 hours after it is sent, while the average SMS is read in four minutes. “SMS is literally 720 times faster than e-mail in message-opening throughput.”
Also, mobile device users are addicted to their devices. Nokia reported at MindTrek 2010 that the average person looks at their phone 150 times a day, or once every six-and-a-half minutes of every waking hour.
In Africa, it’s 82 times a day, according to Young and Rubicam in its Mobile Mania Report published in April 2011 — thus, even, in Africa mobile users check their devices on average every 12 minutes.
He says multinationals are seeing not only the value of mobile channels for reaching customers, but the necessity. “Coca-Cola’s global strategy is 70:20:10. Seventy percent of its digital spend goes to mobile messaging — MMS and SMS — 20% to mobile Web and only 10% to apps,” says Ahonen.
Coca-Cola’s director of international media, Gavin Mehrotra, told the MAA Asia Forum in May that SMS is “priority number one” for the company because only with text can you reach everyone. Similarly, Ahonen says Ford said in February that every subsequent ad campaign the company runs will have a mobile angle.
Despite the growing prevalence of mobile devices, Ahonen warns that the future isn’t going to be about mobile only, but about its role in cross-platform interactions. He says television, radio and other media won’t die, but that mobile will continue to grow as a complementary media channel that does other things like payments.
“US jewellers Tiffany’s e-commerce website wasn’t optimised for mobile. After optimising it, sales grew 125% from the website,” says Ahonen. He says this proves there isn’t going to be “one Internet”.
“The PC Web needs to be PC-optimised, the mobile needs to be mobile-optimised.”
Ahonen says in Japan all websites are designed for mobile first and that it should be the same in Africa.
In another example of the potential of mobile, Ahonen says in China mobile newspapers have converted 39% of their readers to pay for MMS news headlines. “’Tomorrow’s headlines today’ is the selling point.” China Mobile has 40m paying users on SMS- and MMS-based twice-daily headline services of branded newspapers’ headlines.
“Mobile is the fastest growing industry ever,” he adds. “It went from naught to $1 trillion in 2010, and is set to double by 2020.”
When the global financial downturn hit in 2008, only mobile kept achieving “robust growth”.
Ahonen calls mobile the “greatest economic opportunity of our lifetimes” and says “most billionaires won’t come from the wealthy countries but from the emerging world where customers are and where innovation is happening”.
Successful mobile marketing, according to Ahonen, comes from engagement. Nigeria, the second largest market for Guinness, ran an instant rewards/coupon SMS campaign that saw 25 000 entries a day, 36% redemption at launch and still received 17% redemption two months later.
“McCafe Indonesia saw an 18% response and 16% redemption rate on a coupon campaign it ran in comparison to its Web ads which got a 0,2% response. So mobile was 90 times better.”
Another burgeoning opportunity is in mobile shopping. Tesco’s South Korean supermarket Home Plus offers home delivery and customers can shop via QR codes on posters on the underground transport system and have their items reach their home before they do. Ahonen says this initiative increased sales by 130%.
Using Moore’s Law, which says that processing power doubles every year while the cost of production halves, Ahonen predicts that by 2020 even the cheapest “Africa phone” will have 3G, Wi-Fi, a touch screen and an 8-megapixel camera and will cost $10. – Craig Wilson, TechCentral
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