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LOW COST VIDEO ON THE HORIZON – MAYBE!

We heard last time that video is getting bigger and bigger. We said proof of this is to be found in news that Facebook has just launched group video watching. This first from Zuckerberg’s behemoth enables groups to watch live or recorded videos together in the same place at the same time, with an administrator controlling the experience, as always. As a mobile marketer presumably with his ear to the ground, I think it’s correct to say that many South Africans, in particular, have always approached news about video becoming big with a large dose of sceptism. This is because a large number of us remain unable to enjoy mobile video, or to utilise it to its full potential, on our devices because of the cost of mobile data in this country. Every pronouncement in the local marketing media about the rise of video seems a bit of a damp squib because so many SA mobile users have become overly-obsessed with their monthly data allowance after being hit time and time again by massive data bills. Local users reading about video are simply translating that news into the megabytes and gigabytes likely to result in huge bills if they dare use video for more than a couple minutes a day. Fortunately, there are local organisations like SA’s Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA) that regularly issues information on how to save data. In addition, the local mobile network operators have implemented measures like slashing interconnection costs to help bring down the cost of the mobile data that video runs on. So a lot is being done locally to help ensure that SA mobile consumers will be able to enjoy the benefits of video in all its forms very soon without worrying too much about what it costs to view the latest treat served up by X and Y brand’s mobile marketing gurus. Overseas, there are encouraging developments on the horizon. Just in the last week or so, Walmart (now operating in SA) hired a veteran US cable company executive to help it develop a low-cost video streaming service. Walmart has long been rumoured to be working on a low-cost subscription streaming service. Perhaps Walmart’s SA operations will soon be able to roll out such a service to local consumers to help them enjoy a worry-free video experience. We watch, wait and hope!

THREE MOBILE SEO TACTICS YOU CAN DO YOURSELF

We all know now that more consumers consistently connect with mobile devices like smartphones and tablets compared to fixed devices like laptops and PCs. And if readers have been regularly following these pages, we also know that mobile marketers should be consistently working towards optimising their campaigns for mobile. This is because search engines are beginning to look to the mobile version of websites before the desktop version to determine ranking. Websites without a mobile version, or with a mobile website poorly optimised for SEO, will slip even further in search engine results pages, according to Entrepreneur Magazine, as this rollout by Google begins to encompass more sites. The good news for the SME client or the smaller mobile marketer on a tight budget, however, is that some mobile SEO tasks are very easy to do yourself. Before we get to the nuts and bolts below, we need to underline that the starting point of all of this, is that mobile SEO, like traditional SEO, is simply about creating and tagging content in smart ways that make it stand out online. In this installment of our blog, let’s take a quick look at three DIY mobile SEO tips to maintain your brand’s online visibility in light of Google’s new ranking rules. 1. Create a Google My Business listing. Creating a Google My Business account for your SME is free and simple to set up. Try fill out the information required to the best of your ability. Don’t forget to include as many images of your business as possible. Then, when people search for similar businesses online or via a related Google app, yours could very well show up. 2. Frequently review directory listings online Because mobile user may use other websites besides Google to locate your brand, make sure you frequently review and update all listings for your business online. Update listings on Yelp, local websites, TripAdvisor, Facebook and other popular business directories. These listings will ensure searchers reach the right information when they search for your name. 3. Get social. Seriously. Upwards of 80% of social media users spend their social media time on their mobile devices, whether tablets or smartphones. These sites drive a huge amount of mobile traffic. If you want to maintain visibility with mobile users, use platform-specific advertising, engage with users, and post prolifically to ensure your brand stands out. Don’t overdo it, though – or else your brand’s attempts at connecting with current and potential customers may seem a tad contrived. As always in social, keep it real! ENDS

HELP US DEMYSTIFY MOBILE MARKETING THIS WEEK

The fact that there are just a few days to enter the 2018 Effective Mobile Marketing Awards (check out MobileMarketingMagazine.com – entries close this Friday, 27 July) had me thinking just how far mobile has come since I first helped commercialise the ‘Please Call Me’ service. As one Rose Leadem wrote simply in Entrepreneur Magazine recently, “The marketing industry isn’t the same as it was 10 years ago. And much of that is thanks to the rise of smartphones.” The current structure of the awards mentioned briefly above are testament to this. From simply not existing a decade ago, this year’s installment of these mobile marketing awards boasts a staggering 35 categories! From ‘Most Effective Chatbot Solution’ to ‘Most Effective Rich Communication Services’, mobile marketing awards in 2018 are a celebration of the diverse technologies now accessible on that mobile window on the world: the smartphone. The ever-evolving mobile marketing landscape is resulting in some brilliant new campaigns that are develivering real value to clients and memorable experiences to consumers. Strangely, for all of this, marketers globally are still spending a sub-standard 15 percent of their annual budgets on mobile and the remaining 85 percent on desktop, says Entrepreneur.com This statistic becomes even sadder when one is reminded that people spend 59 percent of their time on mobile, according to research compiled by App Geeks. I can only surmise that mobile marketing remains something of a mystery to clients and traditional ad agencies alike, hence this reluctance to give it a whirl, as evidenced by the 15% statistic above. Perhaps mobile marketers, instead of indulging in 35 categories of mobile awards, for example, need to bring it back to basics. Let’s spend the remainder of 2018 demystifying mobile so we can bring more brands into the mobile fold. Here’s a tangible way to start: if you’re reading this, make it a priority to educate your clients and other marketing partners in the main types of mobile marketing. For the sake of simplicity and greater uptake, reduce it down to SMS marketing, app-based marketing, push notifications and email marketing. Explain to anyone who will listen over the next several days that these are some of the most popular mobile marketing methods and you will have done a good thing for the industry!

I LOVED YOU IN 1994 AND I LOVE YOU TODAY…

Just when we were thinking that 1994, the year cellular technology became commercially available in South Africa, was the big one for mobile, the pundits are saying 2018 is the year for mobile. CNBC is reporting (https://goo.gl/eCSfWo) that viewing time on mobile will be the same for TV this year. The implication, according to the broadcaster, is that new technologies mean marketers can really explore the potential of mobile ads. For mobile marketers in South Africa where mobile has been leading the field since it easily eclipsed the four million landlines we coped with in the 1990s, this news was predictable. Our overseas colleagues speak of the “three screens” their consumers have historically accessed: the cellphone, the office desktop and the television. In South Africa, consumers have been using their scaled-down and advanced smartphones for the functionality offered by all three of the latter. Really lousy local satellite TV where endless repetition is a feature of the drivel served up, means video-on-demand (VOD) services like Showmax and Justflicks are being streamed daily on consumers’ mobile devices. Free Android email clients and word processors built for the small screen mean SA’s mobile consumers are also working on their cellphones and have no need for laptops. And well, who out of the 55 million of us, actually has a formal sector job complete with desk and standalone computer anymore? Yes, 2018 is the year for mobile globally, and in SA, “we’ve been having it”! Let’s get back to basics and remind ourselves of five reasons why mobile technology is so big in SA: Mobile infrastructure run by privately-held companies who care about service and about providing a first-world experience in a developing country mean cellular in SA actually works and it works impressively well! It’s worked ever since Vodacom and MTN put in a lot of effort and money into covering our national network of highways, a world-first at the time. South Africans themselves are mobile. Urbanization is a feature of our country and the pull of the cities means we like technology and possessions that can be easily uprooted and moved to another location. We’re always on the move in search of our first job or study opportunities, and we like to take our cellphones with us on the journey to a better life. Mobile technology is affordable and it’s getting cheaper by the year. The price of handsets fell first, then voice and now data. It really does seem that cellular technology is one of our few expenses that have fallen in cost over the years. This is not something we all want to hear, but it’s true we used to pay R3 000 for a handset 20 years ago, R2.75 a minute for calls, and half a gig of data cost R700 just over a decade ago. Trust me, I was there! South Africa arguably enjoys the best climate in the world but, boy, when it rains, it rains! Add copper cable theft to the mix, and landlines in this country can be unreliable at best. In fact, add the threat of criminal activity, and no-one wants to be alone at home with a landline on the blink. Cellphones make us feel safe. South Africans are upwardly-mobile. How else do you explain that even with the tremendous challenges that face us, and bar one or two quarters, we’re still experiencing the longest period of positive economic growth in SA’s history. Cellphones, and all the value-added services and apps they enable us to access, are aspirational. When we first saw them in 1994, we wanted them, and the love affair continues in 2018.

GROUP VIDEO WATCHING SET TO BE BIG

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of today’s blog post, readers in the industry might be interested to know that the deadline for entries into the Effective Mobile Marketing Awards has been extended to 10 August 2018. Now, onto today’s post! The big mobile marketing and social media-related news of the week simply has to be Facebook’s financial results. Industry pundits have been having a field day over the past 48 hours or so with their predictions of the social media giant’s impending doom, or at least hugely slowing fortunes. What nonsense. Let’s take a sober look at what was actually reported by Zuckerberg, Inc. While the results have been referred to as ‘mixed’ and there’s talk of ‘missed revenue oppprtunties’ what we have, in fact, is a company growing its monthly active users by 11 percent. Hardly a figure to sneeze at! Did your monthly salary go up 11 percent last year? Probably not, with inflation running at around 5% to 6%. So while daily active Facebook users managed to grow to a staggering 1.47bn human beings, something of a fuss is being made of the fact that this was short of the all-powerful Wall Street’s expectation of growth to 1.49bn users. Come on. In his results presentation, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also revealed that at least 2.5bn people now use at least one of Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, or Messenger each month. Social media is massive, it’s not going anywhere and mobile marketers still need to figure out ways to integrate this communications behometh into their campaigns. A last thought is that video is one of the best ways to achieve this integration. And, lo and behold, it is Facebook that just this very month introduced another first, group video watching. This video experience enables groups to watch live or recorded videos together in the same place at the same time – Watch Party enables group admins and moderators to select any live or recorded public video to share with group members. Members can then comment and react in real-time to the video. Now this is going to be big, no matter what Wall Street says!

MOBILE MARKETING SHOULD BE ABOUT OPTIMISING MICRO-MOMENTS

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: mobile marketing is the most powerful form of marketing available on the planet today. How could it not be, especially on the emerging continent of Africa with its one billion human beings who have an ongoing love affair with the cellular phone? We all know that more people in the world today connect with the goods and services they love through the medium of the mobile phone, as opposed to fixed line anything! No one’s using copper in any African market worthy of consideration by the continent and globe’s leading brands. It’s mobile more often and fibre less often. In South Africa alone (once again the continent’s biggest economy thanks to a strengthening rand), there are 35 million mobile phone users looking to their handsets to provide them with information on goods, services, education, entertainment and income opportunities. For mobile marketers, these millions of connected consumers are there to be harnessed and there are now so many different, mobile-related ways to send them time-sensitive information and personalised deals. I am thinking of push notifications, mobile applications, text messages, QR codes, Bluetooth and multimedia messaging, amongst others. With all of these varied tools, the marketer today can use mobile to increase the chances of gaining new customers while making sure that existing ones return to purchase your brand’s goods and services. When it comes to using mobile marketing strategies to drive up mobile engagement and ultimate conversion rates, Google has coined an interesting new term that is resonating with many local marketers because it just sounds so intuitive. ‘Micro-moments’ refers to moments in time when people use their mobiles to get advice or information. These are key times when your brand needs to make its appearance on their devices. There are four major micro-moments, according to Google, that mobile marketers need to take advantage of, and they are listed below: • “I want to know” moments, e.g., “Who invented the mobile phone?” • “I want to go” moments, e.g., “Where can I see a movie?” • “I want to do” moments, e.g., “How do I upgrade my phone?” • “I want to buy” moments, e.g., “Buy Samsung Galaxy S9.” My final thought for the day is that mobile marketers need to optimise these moments and doing so will make all the difference for your business!

REBUILD DIGITAL TRUST WITH NATIVE ADS & TRANSPARENT PERSONALISATION

The Internet – the mother of all digital platforms – was built with lofty intentions. Academics saw it as a tool of learning for the modern age, perhaps in the same way the ancients viewed the library at Alexandria. Sadly, the web is suffering something of a reputation problem of late, and it has a lot to do with the awful phenomenon of Fake News. Errant publishers serving up a pile of fictitious nonsense in pursuit of that digital holy grail – the click – means consumers, and mobile consumers in particular, are losing faith in the reliability of digital platforms as trusted sources. This is extremely bad news for brands in general and mobile marketers specifically. We need to devote the rest of 2018 to working hard to rebuild consumer trust in this evolving digital landscape that’s having its reputation wrecked by the Fake News brigade. We don’t want to see a mobile Internet already suffering the effects of ad blockers take another knock, this time from content blockers. To rebuild trust, mobile marketers must ensure that their ads fit in. Native advertising has grown so hugely over the past several years because people view phones as deeply personal devices. The phone is not just a mere ‘platform’ to the consumer. Intimate technologies see consumers rejecting interruptive, foreign objects in favour of things that fit in. This is why you’ll never see modern companies like Twitter or Facebook placing a banner ad on their platforms. Interruptive ads, and their Fake News cousins, make people lose trust in brands and the publishers that run these old-school ads. Finally, we need to respect people’s data. Digital and mobile, in particular, brought about an opportunity to understand more about each consumer and with it, the potential to tailor advertising to the individual. Unfortunately, users generally aren’t so keen on all of this. Most people don’t want to be tracked and still find personalised ads kind of creepy. Mobile marketers can help rebuild trust by being transparent about personalised advertising. People want control over how brands use their data, so provide control in a transparent, engaging manner and we’ll go a long way towards rebuilding a trust-driven consumer digital experience.

More than half of Brits now get their news via mobile

Now more than ever, consumers are trusting the mobile industry to deliver their daily news. That’s an awesome responsibility for mobile marketers as we essentially take our place next to established journalists with impressive credentials. In fact, what’s really amazing is to think that journalism has taken centuries to establish its trusted credentials and then an upstart two-decade old mobile technology comes along and is (almost) trusted to the same extent as the former. According to new research by video advertising firm Teads, just over half (51 per cent) of British adults prefer to read their news on a mobile device, with those aged 35 to 44 the most likely to consume online news. For a country practically synonymous with the newspaper-reading public, for at least the last two hundred years, that’s quite a milestone that’s almost gone unreported – go figure! The study also found that online also emerged as one of the most engaging mediums, with 60 per cent of global respondents saying they pay strong attention to online news, compared to 52 per cent who say the same for television news. Unfortunately, and here’s where we come back to credibility, Teads found that 26 percent of consumers believe news shared via social media is largely fake. We can thank Donald Trump for that, with his go-to position of ‘fake news’ every time he is confronted with a story he doesn’t like. The upside is that this research shows consumers are valuing and engaging with news more than ever. However, there is a challenge in that mobile marketers need to work with news sources to establish the credibility of our platforms. We can’t allow all news to be tarred with the same ‘fake news’ brush simply because it’s delivered via a social media platform.