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The topic of today’s blog is innovation. Simply put, innovation in mobile is going to be the biggest contribution to human development over the next fifty years. Big words, but how could it be any different is one considers that mobile is the most used of all digital devices, perhaps of all devices? Over 75% of time spent online is time spent on mobile – whether tablets, handsets, phablets, you name it. While the early adopter brands cottoned on to mobile years ago, we still have some key national and global brands only now recognising that mobile is the key to digital success. Mobile is changing the way consumers and brands interact and innovation is driving this sea change. Some may be asking whether innovation in mobile has reached its limits, after all, one can only do so much with the small screen. That’s crazy talk! It reminds me of that well-known quote we’ve all seen from the chief of the US patent office in the 19th century who infamously stated that everything has already been invented! If agencies, their clients and brands can come to a better understanding of how consumers are using their mobile devices then it will soon become clear that there are still so many gaps to be plugged – with innovation. My impression is that innovation in mobile advertising needs to catch up with innovation in mobile devices. In 2019, we need clever mobile marketers to come up with more ways to use this amazing mobile technology that has dropped down on the marketing world over the past two decades like manna from heaven. As we ask ourselves what the key trends are that will drive innovation in mobile near year, we need to distinguish between flimsy buzzwords and real, habit-changing innovations that will transform our lives. Spotting the next big one is what we all are trying to do, but it’s easier said than done. From AI, to IoT, wearables, bots and blockchain, you decide what’ll be here to stay next year in mobile.

Video & bots, that’s your mobile marketing 2019 in a nutshell!

As we settle firmly into the last quarter of 2018, many mobile marketers and their clients will be wondering what the mobile hot buttons will be for 2019. Interestingly, or perhaps predictably for those of us who believe in the power of consistency, there’ll be much of the same on the mobile front for next year. Don’t take my word for it – a quick scan of such leading mobile media platforms as Mobile Marketing Magazine, Adweek and Marketing Land reveals that video, for example, will continue to just grow and grow in importance. So there’s the first trend to keep your eye on in 2019. And it’s related to the second trio of trends for next year. But first, Video. Not only are the pundits saying that traditional video will account for 85% of all Internet traffic in 2019, but way more than half of mobile users already watch web and social media video on their cells. The message here is that mobile marketers seriously need to investigate video ads next year, if they haven’t already done so, because 65% of ad impressions – apparently – on Instagram this year have been the result of video content. So pencil in traditional video. And me using the term ‘traditional video’ here takes us to our next mobile hot button for 2019. Live video is making waves on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram right now and will continue to do so in 2019. We’re all watching more live video than we watched the year before and that’s an upwards trend the mobile marketer really needs to underline for next year. Do NOT let you brand be late on the live video bandwagon. Finally, you need to stay ahead of the curve and get your client, or your own firm or employer, to develop a chatbot. In 2019, the gurus are saying chatbots will become a normal thing. We’re seeing a lot of banks and insurance firms, in particular, using chatbots for CRM in South Africa, and next year the novelty will fade and consumers will simply expect to engage with their favourite brands in this manner. It used to be science fiction – now it’s science fact and bots will continue to grow in leaps and bounds in 2019.


The whole month of September is now traditionally regarded as Heritage Month in South Africa with the 24th of the month being the original Heritage ‘Day’. This millions of South Africans know as we gather around the braai this time of year with friends, family, colleagues and the odd stranger and marvel at the fact that we can even do this. Twenty years ago, things looked pretty bleak and topsy turvy here. I think we’ve all accepted that South Africa will always be a little off-centre, to say the least, but wow, what progress has been made! Now, now at last, we have a heritage we can all be proud of – and share. In no economic sector is this more true than in the country’s mobile industry. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: South Africa, a country in 1994 of some 40 million souls, boasted a paltry 4 million telephones! Today, we have notched up a phenomenal 95 million GSM cellular connections. That is just incredible. We’ve also done it together. South Africans of all hues and backgrounds built the national mobile networks that a plethora of value-added services now run off. We didn’t outsource their building to legions of foreign firms and sell off what became our shared national mobile heritage, we did it ourselves. Alluded to above is the fact that value-added services run on top of our countrywide mobile infrastructure. These enable everything from mobile marketing campaigns to your child’s tablet-based quiet time. Central to the development of these rich cellular services that add complexity, interest and ultimate enjoyment to the mobile experience has been the wireless application service provider (WASP) industry, a sub-sector of the greater mobile industry. Dozens upon dozens of local WASPs have spent hundreds of thousands of hours conceptualising, building and rolling-out compelling mobile content and applications that are consumed by the country’s cellular customers. These WASPs and the talented developers that populate these firms are building on South Africa’s proud original GSM mobile network heritage. They’re taking us to the next level and deserve our continued support. Let’s remember our future mobile heritage and the WASPs that are enabling it as we celebrate Heritage Month.


In life and mobile marketing, you can always count on an equal and opposite reaction. Regular readers of this blog will have no doubt seen us trot out a plethora of stats to back-up our assertion that mobile is the best thing to hit marketing since telesales. We’ve told you that more human beings on the planet now access the web via mobile devices than via PCs, whether laptop or desktop. We’ve also quoted that age-old stat that 80% of mobile users keep their mobiles within arm’s reach, most of the time. Now, it seems the inevitable pushback is making an appearance. Apparently, and according to a new survey by Pew Research Center (in the US), teens over there are starting to cut back on mobile phone and social media usage. My first reaction was where exactly are these teens? I don’t think any parent, or marketer, on the entire African continent has noticed any of our homegrown teens cutting back on their mobile phone usage! However, Pew says teens between 13 and 17 are consciously trying to reduce their screen time. Well over half think they spend too much time on their mobiles, and just under half think they spend too much time on social media. As a mobile marketer, all this says to me is marketers have to focus increasingly on that holy grail of mobile technology: personalisation. If teens in developed markets are indeed cutting back on mobile time, this simply says to me that we’re seeing a market correction. Teens took to mobile in droves, clearly, and now they’re wanting to see personalisation, value and they want more from content providers to keep their interest up. This is totally normal and applies to all media and mediums that have ever been used to flog good and services. Finally, when it comes to keeping interest up, video is the thing! If you get your brand to increasingly incorporate video in social and mobile marketing campaigns, you’ll keep teens – and their parents – interested and engaged with their small screens.

Who asks for the wifi code when visiting someone? A lot of us, apparently!

Have you noticed how it’s becoming more and more common for people to ask you for the wifi code when visiting your house? I’m sure many of us were quite taken aback when hearing this request for the first time – I mean, does your house look like a coffee shop, mine sure doesn’t – but now it’s mainstream, coming after ‘where can I put the meat?’. As a mobile marketer, I find this all very interesting and it bodes well for our particular marketing discipline. Most plaudits will say asking for a wifi code the moment you step into someone’s home is a symptom of our hyper-connected society, but it’s more than that. It speaks directly to the ubiquity of wireless. After all, the person asking for the code is not plugging in a copper wire, after they? They’re not asking for the code so they can run a cable from the car to your house! Aside from the fact that this simple request means wireless is now being taken for granted (does anyone know if the last dial-up users in SA have been disconnected?), it also assumes that the home being visited not only has wifi, but uncapped wireless connectivity, delivered via fibre. At last count, there were a couple hundred thousand households in South Africa that were part of the magical-sounding ‘fibrehoods’. These are the suburbs where those nice people with the spades and pickaxes come to dig up the pavements in pursuit of the laudable goal of super-speedy web access. The mobile marketer will, however, have noted the recent entrance of companies like Rain that promise high-speed broadband over mobile. We also have the incumbent operators like Telkom Mobile also coming up with high-speed and high-data cap wireless options. I think the sum effect of all of this is that many more consumers are becoming open to mobile marketing campaigns delivered over high-speed mobile. There are all sorts of wireless opportunities opening up, from free high-speed public wifi subsidised by advertising, to wireless push advertising on a grand scale. Next ever is going to get really hot in wireless and mobile marketers, and their clients brands, had better be there!

With three months to go to 2019, we’ve got three mobile strategy specifics for 2018

One of my favourite reads, Entrepreneur Magazine, says “Like any type of marketing, mobile marketing works best when you have a solid strategy behind it.” As we cruise towards the end of the year and marketing executives everywhere panic as they realise there are scarcely three months left to the 2018 we were all going to do so much in, let’s focus on three tangible strategic things we can do before year-end. If you’ve left things to the last, implementing these three items will ensure that you have the semblance of a mobile strategy before the corks pop and the streamers fly on January 31st. First, you must take the time and trouble to understand your market. When it comes to mobile, you need to know whether they are using smartphones or feature phones – most importantly. Which types of mobile marketing will work well with your audience depends on their devices. They may respond better to push notifications or SMS if they’re feature phone users, for example. Smartphone users, for their part, will no doubt be keen to engage via WhatsApp for Business. Next up, you need to know in which age segment they fit. This is key because the young ones, right now, are heavily into video with over 70 percent of them saying they watching three hours or more of online video each day. So YouTube, Periscope, Facebook Live, and Meerkat are likely to get traction. Next, you must decide what your mobile campaign is going to say and here you shouldn’t make the mistake of simply replicating the goals or your non-mobile strategy. This is because mobile marketing-related ad campaign goals can be way more specific, measurable and tangible. The nature of the technology allows for this and that’s why it is so awesome. When you draft mobile goals, drill right down into the specifics of what behavior change you want to bring about – because you can! Finally, pay attention to your own analytics because past behaviour gives insight into future consumer and target market priorities. As Entrepreneur Magazine suggests, to get this part of your mobile marketing strategy correct, you’ll want to get in touch with your customers. Ask them about what problems they’re trying to solve and how you can help with your unique brand offering, product or service. Good luck!

Consumers want to feel wanted, don’t let your mobile strat skip on personalisation

Those of us who were convinced to study Consumer Behaviour before landing their first job in marketing will remember (forgive the upcoming pun…) how repetition is said to be the primary aid when it comes to getting consumers to recall things. Of course, this is why we’ve all had to put up with some pretty irritating, but effective, repetitive radio spots for so many years. Marketers understand the value of repetition. And this is why I’m going to say it again: personalisation is the absolute fundamental when it comes to mobile marketing. If you don’t believe me, and all the articles we’ve written on this blog about the value of repetition, you can believe a new study which says that 75 per cent of UK consumers feel that the majority of retailers don’t understand their interests. They feel this because consumers believe retailers are showing a distinct lack of… you’ve guessed it… personalisation. This lack of relevance to the ordinary, individual consumer could be hurting brands. Interestingly, in order to receive more relevant marketing, just over half of mobile consumers would be willing to hand over their personal data, according to this UK survey. There’s no reason to believe a similar study conducted locally would show any different results. Simply put, consumers are willing to trade privacy for greater personalisation. And why not? If you’re not the mafia, if you’re not into organised crime, human trafficking or cheating on your spouse, why wouldn’t you hand over a little inconsequential private information relating to location and other parameters, for a much better personal shopping experience? According to the survey by Ometria, women are more likely to hand over their mobile-originating data, and respond more positively to a personalised offer. Tellingly, and this is where mobile marketers’ ears would be red-hot with interest, almost a third of women say they would feel ‘very valued’ when receiving a personalised offer. In conclusion, retailers need to think way beyond simply sending out blanket, generic blanket marketing communication and use that wonderful device called the cellular telephone to make their current and potential human customers feel valued, wanted and appreciated. Now go to it!


Marketers have to think outside the box and no marketers more so than mobile marketers. We all know that the mobile phone has become ubiquitous. We all understand that the vast majority of human beings worldwide use their mobile devices to access the worldwide web. However, as the twin powerhouses of the African economy, South Africa and Nigeria, falter on the back of the twin evils of high inflation and low growth, it’s becoming clear that the greater mobile industry needs to increasingly pull out some innovative solutions out of its box of cellular tricks. We said recently that research shows teens in developed markets are cutting back on their screen time. The mobile industry in South Africa, in particular, is already suffering the effects of cuts in mobile termination rates and new rules in the way we can reach cellular customers, so we definitely don’t want customers reducing their screen time in our market. So what to do? Mobile marketers need to make a renewed effort to evangelize the technology we’ve all grown so passionate about. It’s crazy that so many million of Africans are still wasting transport, time and other valuable resources transacting in the bricks and mortar world when they could be conducting the lion’s share of their transacting online using their smartphones and even feature phones, with USSD. When it comes to thinking out of the box, mobile marketers need to think of new ways to accommodate clients also struggling under the weight of a slowing economy. For one, many brands are wanting to go the mobile route, but are unable to direct resources towards bespoke mobile solutions. Advise them on generic, or even white labeled, mobile solutions that won’t break the bank while still improving the current and potential customer’s mobile experience.