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The futureâs mobile

For many mobile marketers, 2011 was a milestone year. Mobile ad spend almost tripled while visits to e-commerce sites from mobile devices grew from just 1.4% in 2010 to 7% in 2011. Last year also heralded pilot schemes of tap and pay mobile wallets. Whatever 2012 has in store, it is going to be another big year as more consumers embrace mobile commerce and brands look to invest more in mobile apps, mobile-optimised websites and mobile marketing.

January saw the 10 billionth application downloaded, prompting Gartner to predict that mobile apps will generate $15.9 billion in end user spending in 2012. Gartner also sees apps as the driver to generate hardware sales, advertising spend and technology innovation. With this shift, brands are likely to assign more marketing budget to the mobile channel.

Fun as they are, it isn’t the quirky headline-grabbing app that will grow mobile use in the long run but the life-enhancing ones. Mobile is increasingly becoming an “engagement” channel as well as an “always on” channel.

Here are the five key areas I predict businesses will be focusing on over the next 12 months.

1. Location, location, location
Location-based marketing delivers services to users based on their physical context, preferences and needs. Gartner predicts that 1.4 billion people will be using consumer location based services this year. This is hardly surprising when you consider that Foursquare has tripled its user base in the last year and at last count (December 2011) had 15 million users.

Location services aren’t limited to functional uses like finding the nearest cashpoint. Location check-ins are still growing in popularity while augmented reality and visual search from Google add new dimensions to the experiences and the opportunities for brands. Facebook’s acquisition of Gowalla in December is yet another endorsement that this phenomenon is going places!

2. The ‘social’ factor
People’s desire to use social media on the move has led to an explosion of social media apps as well as mobile sites. The latest figures report that over 350 million users access Facebook via a mobile device and 55% of Twitter users log on via mobile.

Mobile is the glue which enables a seamless social media experience and of course with all of the quirky innovative social media campaigns undertaken by brands this only adds to the intrigue. However, brands should proceed with caution otherwise they risk social media promotion apathy.

And, remember, operating within a social media environment can be a double-edged sword. Consumers are 88% less likely to buy from companies who ignore complaints on social media, according to a Conversocial survey.

3. Mobile ad spend to grow
As mobile web traffic grows, so too will exposure to mobile advertising, across networks as well as within apps. The IAB reports that in 2010 the UK mobile ad market hit £83 million, more than doubling spend in 2009. Mobile ad spend is expected to continue to grow – new figures for 2011 are due out in the spring.

Search accounted for two-thirds of the revenue at just under £55 million, a growth of 172%. The convenience of mobile search will continue to fuel this rise, click to call and click to book, all add to the positive experience, making the mobile a “must have” medium for consumers. The innovative ad formats too will ensure interaction and engagement.

4. Rise of multiple screening
Nielsen research shows that 42% of tablet and 40% of smartphone owners use their devices while watching TV. This trend will lead to more consumers interacting with TV advertising both live and pre- and post-roll.

In 2010, pre- and post-roll advertising was up 492% year on year to £1.1 million, so it will be interesting to see the comparison with 2011 figures. TV networks are very excited about dual screening as it offers more opportunities for advertisers and sponsors to engage with viewers both through ads and TV programmes and drive interest in a brand.

5. Mobile commerce
Mobile commerce (M-commerce) is one of the most exciting opportunities – and retailers are ahead of the game here. 38 of the top 50 retailers in the UK have mobile optimised sites. This is far higher than other sectors – in fact 70% of UK companies have yet to launch mobile sites.

M-commerce and mobile transactions will continue to grow as we see more mobile sites, shopping apps, tap and pay wallets and contactless payment systems and near field communication (NFC), However, this will engender security challenges that developers and retailers need to focus on if m-commerce is to thrive.

Mobile is also driving footfall. Grapple found that one in 10 mobile users with retail-themed apps use them to visit high street outlets. Starbucks has reported that it has processed 26 million mobile transactions since launching the mobile payment service in January 2011!

Mobile can bring our experiences to life, both the everyday and the aspirational. The key to mobile’s strength is the way it seamlessly integrates with other channels. This channel cannot be viewed in isolation; all elements feed each other so integration is critical. Remember to give the consumer what they want as this is the only way to ensure the mobile channel continues to thrive, the future is in everyone's hands.

Jo Garcia, Vice Chair, DMA Mobile Marketing Council, Business Development Director, Traction

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