China's mobile Internet users have reached 277 million in mid 2010, which is almost the same number of Internet users for the second half of 2008. While mobile phone Internet users rose to 66 percent, mobile ad volume represents only a small part of total digital advertising expenditure (display + event + search + mobile). Why does this gap exist? Are advertisers resisting mobile advertising or have we not found an appropriate approach yet?
Perhaps mobile cannot compete with computers in terms of screen display, even though there are many 4-inch screen mobile phones in the market (iPhone is only a 3.5-inch screen). Compared with the PC, mobile still has a long way to go in terms of visual impact and depth of content. Although 3G will pave the way to advance the content issue, 3G coverage and popularity are emerging from infancy (more people use 3G internet cards in their PCs in China). Mobile advertising solutions face a difficult situation: the application and visual impact cannot be compared with the PC, and there is no major reach advantage at this stage (mass SMS doesn't count). So it's difficult to persuade advertisers and agencies to go beyond just small scale testing of mobile advertising in its current state.
Fortunately, emerging technologies are generating more interest in the space.
First of all, augmented reality (AR) granted mobile an opportunity in cross-media marketing and retail integration. With this kind of technology, a traditional concept could be adapted to become more interactive, overlaid with real-world scenarios using the camera and even to deliver 3D. Compared to QR codes, this enables an entirely new level of engagement. Major auto and beer advertisers have already noticed the potential of AR and this may be the future of 3D experiences in retail and press.
Second: location-based services (LBS). Let's park the hot privacy issues for now. These services provide advertisers the possibility of delivering the 'last mile' to retail and connecting the purchase funnel. Before, the model was 'you can reach me (product or service) here'. Now the model is changing to 'I will be at your side wherever you are'. Location-based services allow you to tailor messages to any number of scenarios, including but not limited to retail locations, weather, vicinity of friends, and transport routes.
How to Apply Location-Based Services Technology in Your Media Plan The future of mobile marketing should not rely solely on technological innovation (which is also the challenge for all digital communications), but rather it should integrate with other media to achieve the best results. Marketers want and expect this. In the past, digital media was so independent and had little connection with other media and mobile could well be the missing link to integration.
Here are some points advertisers can consider when planning to include mobile in your communications:
So are you ready for the challenge?
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James is managing director, Digital Operations and Innovation at GroupM Interaction China responsible for social media and creative production, tactical planning, mobile marketing and new business development. With more than 10 years of experience in digital media, he had demonstrated expertise in interactive and technology industries when working on big brand names in Greater China. James started his career in 2000 with United Advertising in Taipei as an interactive account manager. He then moved to Euro RSCG Taipei as interactive business director responsible for blue-chip business like Intel, Microsoft, and MSN. James relocated to China in 2007 to help build and manage the digital team for OMD, servicing clients such as J&J, GE, and Standard Chartered Bank. In 2010, he was promoted to managing partner for continued growth and instrumental in the business success of MediaCom Interaction in the country.
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