Across the world, mobile is our primary device. For browsing online or talking to friends, it’s the one we instinctively reach for and the one we always take with us on the go. In the US, spend on mobile has overtaken desktop : as consumers spend more time on their mobile devices, marketers worldwide hedge their bets – and their budgets – on the small screen.
In the Gulf countries, 9 in 10 or more own a smartphone, making penetration so high it casts a shadow over the rest of the MENA region, and in fact, most of the world. The region’s advertisers estimate that 70 percent of ads viewed are on mobile.
eMarketer predicts that mobile will account for 63.3 percent of digital and 24.3 percent of total global ad spend in 2017. Research also predicts that there will be 66% mobile phone users worldwide. Based on MENA consumer habits when it comes to all things mobile, we could expect to see a high media spend on mobile MENA but in fact, the opposite is true. Only 6 percent of ad dollars go to mobile platforms. A surprising figure for a lucrative, affluent market with one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world.
The risk of lagging behind
Mobile isn’t getting the attention it deserves from marketers in MENA because of a lack of understanding of how it can be used to reach target audiences, and an ingrained preference for traditional channels, especially outdoor and newspapers. But the rise of mobile in the Gulf market demands a quick and nimble response from brands who otherwise risk lagging behind the consumers they want to appeal to.
Fortunately, things may be about to change. From 2010 to 2015, MENA’s digital ad spend grew at a CAGR of 39 percent, which was the largest growth rate in the world, almost twice the figure of most other markets. 95 percent of MENA marketers are planning to allocate more budget to mobile, and over the next year, 63 percent plan on investing in mobile video, while 59 percent say the same about location data.
Making the most of mobile
Mobile is a unique and powerful opportunity for marketers where they can target their audience efficiently. Unlike desktop, your options aren’t limited to the home or office. At home and on the move, consumers are generating advanced location data that can inform sophisticated mobile campaigns.
Long-term, historical location data reveals insights that browsing history cannot, such as where someone spends their offline free time, and places they revisit often, whether it’s an art gallery or the mall. This information, unobtainable by any other means, builds a bigger, though anonymised, picture of individual customer behaviour and makes things easier for marketers who want to reach them.
Real-time location data, on the other hand, can be combined with information like search history and social media data for the kind of results that aren’t possible on other channels. Let’s say an affluent woman who regularly browses boutique fitness classes online is walking past a high-end sportswear store. That brand can entice her inside the shop by delivering an irresistible 15 percent off discount code. Plus, Blis’ Audience and Path tools can ensure the message isn’t accidentally delivered to the man next to her, and that any actions online or in-store are attributed back to that ad.
However, targeting on the go is not always appropriate, even on mobile. A 15 second video ad, for example, wouldn’t work for someone on the move. But once our hypothetical consumer gets home, and her phone connects to the WiFi, Blis’ Audience+ technology establishes relationships between her WiFi address and where she has been that day. This opens up the chance for brands to target her in the comfort of her own home, rather than pushing the wrong format at the wrong moment.
Who will bridge the Gulf’s mobile gap?
It is time to question whether ad dollars in the Gulf are following consumer behaviour and inspiring valuable actions with no media budget wastage. The region’s high smartphone penetration and affluent target market is a lucrative combination for marketers looking to implement savvy mobile strategies using advanced location data. Will brands operating in MENA continue to favour traditional channels, or grasp the opportunity to move the region’s marketing forward?