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As we look forward to another 12 months filled with mobile marketing excitement, let’s remind ourselves why mobile marketing’s share of budgets continues to increase, year after year. Mobile offers a degree of personalisation that cannot be matched by any other marketing discipline. On top of this, there’s that often-communicated additional benefit of unheard-of measurability. Mobile marketing is, for all intents and purposes, a creation of our modern, technology-focused age. So it stands to reason that it’s the one marketing discipline that outshines all others in metrics. With unparalleled personalisation and measurability complemented with the widest reach, it’s clear that developments in mobile happen thick and fast and 2019 will be no different. Apparently, there are about five happenings on the mobile marketing event horizon that are set to take place this mobile year. Let’s do a quick rundown: A fight for dominance in mobile video will take place as smartphones have become the dominant channel on which to watch video online. The stats tell us that so-called ‘video starts’ on mobile have crossed the 50% mark for the first time. Related to the point above, the road to success in 2019 will require ‘continuous experimentation’ with mobile video, apparently, as major brands continue to invest significantly in mobile video and start upping the game considerably when it comes to production quality and budgets. Social media as a sales tool, too, will really blossom in 2019 as social commerce catches on and smartphone users turn friends and family into rands and cents online. More social channels will open their platforms so that the commercialised social journey happens natively and more intuitively across platforms. Finally, what the mobile marketing space will also see more of in 2019 is budgets going directly to influencer marketing. No longer a niche, big brands now have some benchmarks from the early part of the influencer curve to work with.


‘Tis the season to be merry – ‘tis also the season for planning, strategies, budgets and, of course, New Year’s Resolutions! Like anyone else, mobile marketers have resolutions for the year ahead. The 2018 year of mobile, has for all intents and purposes, come any gone. So it’s all systems go for mobile marketing year 2019. Let’s resolve to get more mobile marketing right this coming year. Let’s first and foremost resolve to stop putting out fires and to plan more. With 52% of worldwide online traffic occurring on mobile devices, there is plenty at stake. New research points to the fact that 89% of consumers will recommend a brand after a positive engagement with it on mobile. Just thinking of these last two stats alone, it’s clear that it’s time to radically resolve to shift up a gear or two when it comes to interacting with mobile consumers over the course of 2019. For the mobile marketer, let’s resolve to listen more to mobile consumers and to make their mobile and bricks and mortar shopping experiences much more convenient. Mobile marketers daily leverage countless data points to reach consumers. When one is dealing with a plethora of facts and stats, it can be easy to lose sight of the individual consumer at the other end of the spreadsheet as we attempt to monetize their actions. Add the fact that ad blockers are back with 30% of consumers reportedly using them and mobile marketers need to really make an effort to listen to, and appreciate, individual mobile consumers in 2019. A second key resolution for mobile marketers in 2019 is to strive for consumer convenience. This simply speaks to the ongoing need to target the right mobile consumer with the right mobile offers. Make a renewed attempt to always keep it relevant in 2019. In doing so, app uninstalls and other key mobile metrics will be kept to their very minimum.


Sky News recently featured a segment on a new campaign to help save Britain’s High Streets. For those of us who have not visited those damp climes in some time, or ever, the emergence of online shopping is being blamed for many stalwart main street shops closing. First went the iconic Woolworths brand – the UK version is somewhat different to the more upmarket SA company – and now a high street sporting goods retailer is bemoaning the lack of feet in store as it closes outlets. This is said to be a concern as life in British and other cities worldwide has traditionally pivoted on the main street shopping experience. Who doesn’t remember shopping with their mom on a Saturday morning? The lucky kids even sat down after the retail therapy was done and had sweets afterwards before heading home to unpack. All of this is set to change and, indeed, it already has. Even in South Africa, Edgar’s this very week announced imminent store closures and the potential loss of tens of thousands of jobs. That’s the human face of the move to online shopping and mobile retail apps. It’s sad but time and progress march on. At least some of the blame for the closure of these flagship city retail stores can be laid at the feet of the owners who stuck their heads in the sand for so long and failed to innovate, preferring instead focus on the minutiae of the retail trade as stores closed all around them. It’s interesting, then, to read about a new app launched to help retailers drive sales through relevant offers. We’ve written before about how mobile marketers can get feet in stores by pairing the mobile online world with the bricks and mortar High Street environment. It can be done, stores don’t have to close, and this new app is great innovation along these lines. By analysing users’ mobile data, What’sInStore helps retailers analyze what products their consumers want discounts for. The app then sends them mobile notifications about what products are on sale in-store. How simple is that? Use mobile technology to solve a real-world quandary that’s the result of technology! Mobile usage results in a wealth of data so this really is a fantastic way to efficiently use it to boost a company’s real-world presence. Wonderful.

Spread the word, voice is back!

As crazy as it might seem to so many mobile marketers who have keenly watched the rise of data over the past several years, voice is tipped to be the big trend of 2019. Voice…? Yes, it seems it’s “Back to the Future” for mobile next year but should this surprise us? Not really. Wasn’t the cost of data the thing that was holding back us playing mobile’s “B Side”? Data’s not cheap but it has gotten a lot cheaper and the consumer’s consumption of this cellular staple has, consequently, rocketed. As we move towards the last days of 2018, it’s similarly clear that the cost of communicating over mobile networks using our own voices has dropped dramatically. In fact, with over-the-top services like WhatsApp’s voice notes, for instance, that cost is for all intents and purposes, free. So with the dark days of R2.75 per minute GSM voice calls now firmly in the past, why wouldn’t voice be all set for its cellular rebirth? My own feeling is that voice-based communication was always the number one preferred way for humans to get their message across to each other. We’re social animals – we may love the convenience of email and SMS, but we do want that pinnacle of personal contact that is the human voice. Cost killed it for voice in the early days and all the subsequent text-based communication that followed was simply a way of getting around the high cost of cellular. SMS was the band-aid. So it’s nice that voice is back and it’s back in a big way. That’s going to open up a whole plethora of opportunities for clever mobile marketers who are able to capitalize on the consumer’s new-found love affair with voice. Let’s go beyond those automated voice calls selling funeral cover. Let’s make 2019 the year of voice-based innovation in mobile marketing!


Now that we’re firmly into the first month of the new year, we’re also about a calendar month away from that much anticipated first quarter event: the annual State of the Nation Address by our (new) Pres. It’s during this highlight of the South African government calendar that the country gets what could be termed its annual check-up. The Presidency consultants far and wide and comes up with a summary of what’s going on South of the Limpopo. This had me thinking about the current state of the mobile nation. What’s the health of cellular South Africa like at present? In a word: Good! And getting better! As we head into 2019, I am especially upbeat regarding the fortunes of our overall industry and highly optimistic that the mobile marketing and WASP (wireless application service provider) sector, in particular, will continue to produce compelling mobile content and applications that mobile consumers want. In addition, news that ICASA is set to begin its market enquiry into mobile data and related prices is one of the most significant competition-related developments to hit the South African economy since the interconnection enquiry of several years ago. The latter had an immediate positive effect on the usage of mobile devices as voice rates plummeted following the Regulator’s intervention. Now, I am confident we will see similar innovation coming out of the country’s mobile operators as they work with ICASA to implement changes in the mobile data space. Already, we are seeing encouraging moves. One big operator this week advised its customers that voice balances will no longer be used to pay for out-of-bundle data. That’s encouraging. All of this means consumer adoption of mobile devices, content and applications will rocket and that’s fantastic news for mobile marketers and our clients. Some 65% of digital ad spend overseas is being ploughed into mobile marketing. With more consumers set to consume more of mobile in 2019 and beyond, thanks to ICASA’s data enquiry, we’re going to see similar wonderful stats for South Africa. Get ready!


While developing world stats are hard to come by, it’s been estimated that the average adult in developed countries spends some 3,5 hours a day on mobile. That sounds like an awful of screen time but I’m sure mobile marketers here would agree that African adults spend even more time interacting with their mobile devices. This is by simple virtue of the fact that our cells are often our sole digital devices. We don’t do desktops (much) on this continent! So it’s little wonder that brands are ramping up their smartphone spend. Already, over 70 percent of digital spend is spent on mobile. Things are likely to get even more interesting in 2019 as more marketers make the switch to mobile or motivate for even greater mobile marketing budgets. Here are a few points around what we can expect over the coming year: More Apps. Yup. With over 2 million apps already stocked in the Android and Apple app stores there’s simply no way app diversification is going to let up in 2019. I don’t believe we’ll see anything launched of the magnitude and creativity of an Uber, for instance, but app diversification is the mobile equivalent of traditional media fragmentation. So, mobile marketers, keep your eyes on what’s being launched, what the target is and likely audience numbers and be prepared for those campaign spreadsheets to look even more complicated. Mobile ad fraud is on the rise with reports saying that this bane of the mobile marketer doubled over 2018. I believe that this means supply chain transparency will become hugely important over the coming year with many initiatives by publishers, platform owners and other stakeholders aimed at reestablishing confidence. In particular, anti-fraud metrics for mobile will become increasingly common across the industry. In 2019, brands will also focus more on a total mobile experience that’s going to become ever more interactive. Brands are already experiencing with interactive mobile experiences – Ikea, for example, introduced and augmented reality app that allows users to virtually place furniture in their own homes to see how it looks. Wow. And more wows to come – next year!


Mobile marketers are used to facts and statistics. It’s been said that mobile marketing runs on stats and we’re inclined to agree – mobile marketing presentations, budgets, strategies and plans are always number-heavy, and it’s perhaps because our discipline is so wonderfully-measurable that statistics play such a huge role in what we do for our clients. So, when it comes to numbers, mobile marketers have seen and heard it all. Or have we? Once in a while, a truly interesting factoid pops up that really makes us sit up in amazement. Here’s one them: Gardner says that by 2020, 30 percent of all web searches will be done without the use of a screen. Excuse me? Yup, that really is one of these super interesting, rare facts seldom seen before. Of course, we are hinting at the growing phenomenon of voice search. According to HubSpot’s “Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics for 2018” (, the number of voice queries increased 3,400 percent between 2008 and 2017. We wrote about the growing trend towards voice in the last installment of this blog and stats like these hammer home just how big Internet searches without having to use the mobile screen are going to be in the near future. To further illustrate: In 2015, 19 percent of people used Siri at least daily. In 2016, 20 percent of search queries on Google’s mobile app and on Android devices were voice searches. Even more significantly, two-thirds of people who use digital voice assistants, such as Google Home, use their smartphones less often. So while mobile marketers have been touting the rise of the smartphone, perhaps we need to start being a little more circumspect. Could the rise of voice-based, mobile digital assistants mean mobile users will be spending less time interacting with their smartphone screens? That looks like a potential threat that needs to be turned into an opportunity. It’s clear that campaigns will continue to be made or broken on the back of mobile performance, but it’s also clear that mobile campaigns will not necessarily always translate to screen-based campaigns in the future. Mobile marketers, start thinking outside the box – and the screen – next year.


A recent article in Mobile Marketing Magazine had me sitting up and taking notice. It’s not that I don’t usually sit up and take notice when reading the stories of the day in the trade press, but there’s often a lot of the same, isn’t there? So what I liked about this one was a suggestion I hadn’t heard before. Many of us know that many brands both in South Africa and globally spend a lot of money on flagship festive season TV ads. It’s like when the Americans blow their own ad budgets producing those stunning annual Super Bowl TV commercials that are so clearly designed to go viral as well. So the point of the Mobile Marketing Magazine article was related to the above. Looking at some of the amazing Festive Season TV ads that typically come out this time of year, there is clearly a gap for mobile marketers to likewise go for the gold standard when producing digital commercial content over the December holiday season. Why shouldn’t aficionados of the small(er) screen also look forward to some mind-blowing commercial Christmas content designed for their medium of choice? Clearly, some TV ads are designed for going viral across millions of mobile devices, but so many are not. We can see this simply by looking at how the ads are produced. Too many TV characters almost unseen on the small screen, too much dialogue, subtitles that are near invisible and commercials made for HD and similar when, quite frankly, that’s not how tens of millions of us on this continent are seeing these ads. Come on, TV guys. Design for Likes, not Louries or Lions. There is such a tremendous opportunity for mobile to bridge the gap between digital and television. Mobile marketers, far from being consigned to the industry fringes, can emerge as the kingmakers. We can be that vital link between the mediums. Don’t forget, too, that some ads deemed not suitable for broadcast for the flimsiest reasons, can go straight to mobile. Essentially, we’ve created our own medium. Possibly because the mobile device is such a personal platform, digital mobile campaigns also offer the opportunity for unique, in-depth experiences that can match and even exceed those offered by traditional channels. Let’s put this into practice this December!