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Why Growth in Mobile in Emerging Economies could help Marketers strike Gold

It’s abundantly clear that the developed countries in North America and Western Europe have been at the forefront of the extraordinary growth in smartphone...

It’s abundantly clear that the developed countries in North America and Western Europe have been at the forefront of the extraordinary growth in smartphone adoption over the last few years. Now though, BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies are experiencing similar levels of growth. Since the inception of the Since the term ‘BRIC’ was coined in 2001, the equity markets in these countries have flipped in and out of favour with investors, and only begun to stabilise in recent years. Within this period however, mobile has become the area to watch. Forrester forecasts that smartphone ownership will continue to grow exponentially, with purchases via mobile in China, India and other regions of Asia Pacific becoming especially significant. By 2016, mobile will account for over 50% of all global digital ad expenditure for the first time, evidence of its growth in traditional and emerging markets.

As a consequence, marketers are starting to realise the opportunity in mobile. At the end of 2014, e-marketer recorded that mobile ad spend in China alone had reached $7 billion, increasing by 600% that calendar year alone - and accounted for almost 16% of total global mobile ad spend. Evidently then, marketers must realise that mobile is no longer the preserve of developed countries and, in many cases, developing economies are likely to embrace mobile marketing even faster than say, the USA or UK. This is because, with few home computers and negligible broadband penetration, these countries will skip the desktop advertising revolution completely and jump straight to mobile. Therefore, for brands to take advantage of this new mobile era, they must adopt mobile quickly, and in doing so test different approaches to learn the best ways to reach their target audiences in an engaging way through the medium.


Across the world, we‘re reaching the point where the majority of media content will be consumed on mobile devices. In fact, as long ago as last summer, mobile internet usage in the UK overtook desktop. This shift to mobile will thus be even more pronounced and rapid in regions where people’s first experience of the internet will be via their low cost smartphone. The new ways that people are consuming content is forcing brands to make dramatic changes to their marketing mix – and the way they reach their audience. Given Google also recently announced that it will prioritise mobile-friendly sites in its search results, it’s vital that brands acknowledge the shift before it is too late.

Advertisers and marketers everywhere need to urgently grasp this appetite for mobile with both hands to best harness its scale and relevancy benefits. Programmatic media buying, where advertisers buy ad space in real-time using computer algorithms, is increasingly being adopted to achieve this. Programmatic has been embraced in advanced mobile markets like the USA and UK, but advertisers in developed markets still seem reluctant to reap the rewards of real-time audience targeting. This is largely due to a lack of understanding of ad exchanges and their benefits: over 40% of marketers admit they “don’t have a clue” what programmatic actually means. Understandably, it’s in many marketers’ interests to avoid taking a risk on new technologies, with many taking a risk adverse attitude to doing so, and preferring the more established ROI they derive from traditional media. However, these individuals could find themselves redundant in a few years’ time, replaced by their more mobile-savvy, and usually younger, peers.

It’s therefore absolutely essential that chief marketing officers, marketing directors and other internal teams strive to force through this change if they want their brands to avoid falling behind, especially in the emerging markets. Mobile is most certainly here to stay and it will continue to grow in marketing importance, literally by the minute.


Emergent leaders


Given their rapid adoption of smartphones and lack of desktop computers, developing markets present advertisers with an exceptional opportunity to double-down on mobile. By testing and learning now, whilst mobile ad space is cheap, businesses can get their marketing teams ready for when mobile becomes the dominant platform for content consumption. They can do this, first and foremost, by adopting programmatic buying, ad exchanges and real-time auction platforms, which can process billions of ads a day and allow advertisers to efficiently run ad campaigns across the globe. Those businesses that harness programmatic, and offer a platform to create more intelligent mobile advertising, will find themselves in the best stead to capture these budgets and this mobile goldmine in developing markets.  


Ultimately, there’s a real opportunity here for marketers – provided they take the correct approach to mobile advertising. The brands winning in this international mobile world will be the ones whose marketing teams can adopt mobile across all regions quickly, with relevancy and scale. They’ll be the ones who embrace the growth of mobile in developing markets, ensuring they are using an approach which incorporates programmatic to engage their audience through what is set to become the most important medium.