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November 13, 2015

Mobile Marketing Trends in Southeast Asia



Is Vietnam the “land of opportunity” for mobile marketers? It appears so. Apple’s iOS9 was released this past September, resulting in worldwide ad-blocking conversations—but not in the Southeast Asian country. Why? Mobile marketing is “still being defined” in Vietnam, among other reasons. 

According to a recent study by Opera Mediaworks, Android ranks supreme in Vietnam. Vikas Gulati, Opera Mediaworks’ marketing director for Asia, says this is due to ad-blocking “never taking off” the way it did in the rest of Asia and most other parts of the world. 

"Android’s default browser, Chrome, does not accept ad blocking plug-ins like what Safari is able to do now," Gulati noted. "On mobile devices, content is mostly consumed within apps compared to mobile browsers. Apple’s ad-blocking feature only covers ad blocking on its own mobile browser, Safari."

Ad-blocking app downloads didn’t gain much popularity among iOS users in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand, even when Apple was touting its ad-blocking options heavily. Experts say it’s not a huge concern among the Vietnamese; rather it’s limited to “tech-savvy users” only. However, some sites, such as popular Vietnamese movie sites and already feature ad-blocking detectors. These sites are encouraging users to disable ad blockers before they watch a video or continue to browse. 

Gulati has also noticed a shift in Vietnam from banner and traditional pop-up ads to sponsored content, native advertising, and in-feed video ads.

"Advertisers and publishers are looking to offer more seamless experiences for their users," said Gulati. "They’re looking at rich media, videos, and more targeted and relevant ads. All these changes are happening right now, and the industry is working together to find the balance between monetization and user experience."


What the Study Said

A joint study by Epinion and OMD found that while the potential for mobile marketing in Vietnam is significant, mobile marketing practices “have a long way to go.” For example, most Vietnamese marketers use SMS to engage with their target audiences. The study also found that only 25 percent of Vietnamese smartphone owners purposely clicked on “interesting” mobile ads compared to some 40 percent of smartphone owners in the rest of Southeast Asia. 

Limited ad viewability standards in Vietnam, coupled with the “desire to reach the masses,” has resulted in a need for more mobile ads, according to Alan Cerruti, CEO and co-founder of Happiness Saigon. 

"CPC and CPM or even CPD [cost-per-duration] are largely popular metrics from media agencies," he said. "These are seen as tangible KPIs, and so brands and clients will continue to agree for ads to pop everywhere and anywhere either as mass or as targeted buys. Hence, the demand for mobile display and mobile video ads is huge right now, because that's where Vietnamese consumers are spending their time."

Whatever else, mobile video is “exploding,” according to Fetch founder James Connelly, and marketers need to take advantage of it sooner rather than later. 

“Marketers need to become more conscious of creating the right type of video content useful for a mobile device,” he said in a recent interview. “The 30-second TV ad doesn’t translate well when most ads are being played without sound and in portrait.” 

November 06, 2015

Roaming Charges Have Been Scrapped in Europe


The extra costs associated with using a mobile phone in European countries other than the one you live in are to be scrapped. The ban on data roaming charged, agreed by MEPs in June after years of negotiations, has been passed into law, and will take effect from 15 June 2017.

Roaming charges are currently added to phone bills when users browse the web, make calls or send text messages while abroad. Once the ban kicks in, tourists traveling within the EU won’t notice any difference between the cost of mobile connectivity at home and abroad. The move was described by former vice-president of the European Commission Viviane Reding as “a victory for consumers.”

It’s been a long road for anti-roaming campaigners, as EU member states voiced concern about the potential financial impact on their domestic telecoms providers. A proposal for a roaming ban to take effect this year was scrapped after negotiations stalled. 

The overall ban will be preceded by a ‘phasing out’ process to lessen the burden on operators and allow time for the infrastructure to adjust.  

As things stand, operators can charge tourists up to 22 cents (around 14 pence) per minute for outgoing calls, five cents for incoming calls, six cents per text message and 20 cents per megabyte of data. That’s in addition to their regular tariff. As of April 2016, the costs will be reduced to five cents per minute, two cents per text message and five cents per megabyte.

The impending ban has been welcomed by consumers and campaigners, especially advocates of net neutrality, who broadly oppose unregulated tariff-setting for electronic communications. Under the new telecommunications law, operators will be required to treat all web traffic equally. For net neutrality advocates, the ban on roaming charges is another victory in the fight to keep the lines of digital exchange as open and free to the widest number of people possible.


November 05, 2015

India's Smartphone Market is Booming


With a billion-strong population and a growing economy, India is an increasingly significant market for mobile developers. Homegrown companies are vying with bigger players from China and South Korea to bring mobile devices to a market primarily concerned with budget technologies (although that too is changing, with one in three mobile devices a smartphone). 

In the face of local and regional competition, one company comes out consistently on top. Samsung remains the industry leader as we enter the final quarter of 2015. During Q3, the electronics behemoth cornered 23.2% of the market; its nearest competitor was local brand Micromax, which rose one percent to 17.7%. 

Such impressive growth in India only emphasizes the current stagnation in saturated markets like China and the United States. During Q2, smartphone sales showed a 44% year on year growth, and some analysts predict that, by 2017, India will overtake the United States as the world’s second biggest smartphone market. 

The reason Samsung has stayed in pole position is their flexibility and willingness to create a wide range of devices, each catering to then specific demands of regional markets. Mostly known in the west for the Galaxy S6 and Note 5, Samsung’s biggest sellers in India are the Galaxy J, a mid-priced device that retails at around $190, and the Galaxy A, which is priced towards the higher end, starting at around $480. 

It’s this wide-ranging approach to innovation, taking into account all budgets and needs, that really separates Samsung from Apple in the global marketplace. Indeed, Apple had a marketshare of just 1% in India (which still accounts for a not-to-sniffed-at 1.7 million devices). 

Not that Samsung can or should rest on their laurels. The aforementioned Micromax, and Indian company, is shifting more than 100,000 mobile phones each month, and prides themselves on even more diversity than Samsung, developing 30 different designs in a single year. This gives them different price points for different parts of the market, not dissimilar to the way automobile brands have multiple models for various price segments.

Apple are unlikely to shift towards this model. It goes against their brand image as the exclusive top dog, dripfeeding updates to their devotees - and ramping up the marketing assault each time. Diversification is not on the cards. Which suits Micromax, Samsung et al just fine.

October 26, 2015

Samsung Launches Second Tizen-Powered Phone


Samsung Electronics has recently unveiled the second smartphone powered by its own Tizen operating system. This phone is priced slightly higher than its predecessor, the Z1, and offers better hardware, a faster processor, a higher-quality screen, and improved cameras. The improved design is noticeable right off the bat, with the back featuring a curve on both edges like the one we saw on the Galaxy Note 5. This should help with handling, while also giving the phone a premium look. The Samsung Z3 will go on sale in India, an emerging smartphone market.


Lower Price Point

While this second Tizen-powered phone is higher than the first version, it is still selling for a relatively low price. Samsung hopes to continue competing with Apple and Google to capture a larger share of premium phone users with its latest models. The Z3’s low price will attract buyers in markets like India, where smartphone use is still considerably low. The previous Samsung smartphone has done very well there, while other companies find themselves with lower user rates.


Tizen Powered 

Samsung is trying to reduce its dependence on Google, whose Android operating system powers Samsung’s flagship Galaxy smartphones. The company has launched other products powered by Tizen this year, including the Gear S2 smartwatch and premium televisions. Samsung needs to attract more smartphone users to the operating system in order to gain more third-party developer support, analysts say. 

In a recent article on CNET, Samsung said that it eventually wants Tizen to be in every type of device, a move that would help it gain independence from Google. Setbacks and delays have slowed its arrival on smartphones, though. Samsung's OS does power its Gear S2 smartwatch and several high-end televisions that the Korean company released earlier this year.



The specs of Z3 show a display that is a 5-inch HD Super AMOLED and a 1.3GHz quad-core processor with 1 GB of RAM. The rear-facing camera is an 8-megapixel, while the front camera is a 5-megapixel unit. Internal storage can go as high as 128 GB (by adding a microSD), but the standard is only 8GB. The phone sports a 2,600 mAh battery and supports Samsung's Ultra Power Saving Mode.



The latest smartphone will be protected by the Samsung KNOX security suite.

The KNOX security suite is designed with the safety of users in mind, especially for the public sector. A top level of safety and confidentiality is ensured, which makes the phone highly compatible with tasks of the police, banks, government departments, and hospitals. Users love Samsung Z3 for supporting version 1.0 of KNOX on Tizen. While the hardware of the phone is decent for a low-tier device, the safety suite embedded in the handset adds value and makes the phone a viable option for many countries. With the security of personal information being so important to users nowadays, this Samsung phone is even more desirable to the target audience.

October 04, 2015

APUS and InMobi Team Up to Capture Chinese Mobile Market


How does an already-huge company reach more mobile users? It teams up with another huge company in a quest to, together, dominate the Chinese mobile market, among others. 

Chinese start-up APUS and Indian mobile advertising firm InMobi are forming an alliance to reach a hoped-for 500 million new users in China, India, and other countries by 2016.

InMobi is the leader in customizing Android software. InMobi is India’s top mobile advertising firm. InMobi, in fact, competes with Facebook and Google in the $100 billion worldwide mobile advertising market. It’s one of the only Indian start-ups to make a profit and it already reaches about 1.4 billion devices.


What’s in It for APUS? 

The new partnership will help APUS earn advertising revenue from ads run on InMobi’s platform. APUS will likely see a boost in its user base and enjoy a share in the huge Indian smartphone market. 

APUS’ flagship product lets Android users customize the home screens on their smartphones. APUS hopes to gain more than 80 million users as a result of the deal with InMobi, which will lead to hefty profits.


What About InMobi?

InMobi will gain access to more than 200 million additional users by partnering with APUS. They’ll have exclusive access to all APUS users in India, which total more than 25 million. 

This partnership is the first of its kind between two of the fastest growing tech power companies from China and India. The time is right for APUS and InMobi to make this move, as the smartphone markets in China and India are growing rapidly.

APUS and InMobi’s deal comes after recent media reports that Google has plans to re-enter China. This partnership is important for InMobi if it wants to secure a stronghold in the country. Google pulled its services out of China five years ago, largely because it refused to self-sensor search results.


What’s Next? 

In an official press release, InMobi said, ““InMobi will share its vast expertise in India to help APUS establish a larger footprint in India, enabling an increased user base and market share. In return, APUS will engage in monetization partnership with InMobi….”

InMobi offered, ““InMobi will provide local expertise to APUS to help them understand the unique Indian app market and will aid in user acquisition programs including providing guidance localizing the APUS app experience and acquiring the right talent to help APUS India grow as APUS aims to make its app climb to the top five in the local Google Play store.” 

The big goal is APUS “becoming the leading Android user system in India by the end of 2015 and acquiring more than 80 million users in India by 2016.” 

However, this deal is not the only big thing on the horizon for InMobi. The company is placing heavy bets on its new mobile advertising product, Miip. Miip gives customers curated lists of products they might be interested in, based on their previous choices and their personalities.

InMobi is currently estimated to be worth about $2.5 billion.





September 06, 2015

Mobile Spending to Increase 160% in Three Years


The best place to be if you’re a CMO is at the forefront of a marketing trend. According to a recent survey published by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, the trend ahead is more spending on mobile. 

The CMO Survey included more than 200 inquiries to top marketing agencies and professionals. Mobile spending currently floats around 6% of total marketing budgets, but is estimated to increase by 160% (to just less than 16%) over the next three years. Duke’s survey, conducted biannually, is one of the oldest dedicated exclusively to marketing. 

For CMOs across the country, the increase is easier said than done. Money can certainly buy mobile ad space, but it doesn’t guarantee returns on investment. Getting ahead of this trend means answering important questions about which mobile marketing tactics are most effective for your business.


Choosing the Best Marketing Methods 

For starters, CMOs should carefully consider the best options available to leverage both the consumer and the brand. This means assessing the target audience, developing content that articulates a benefit, maintaining continuity across all media channels, and figuring out when these targeted customers are most likely accessible and through what media channels. Master these goals and you’re headed for the promised lands; make a misstep and you might damage the brand, or worse, consumer relations. 

The survey found a large gap between the effectiveness of B2B and B2C mobile marketing, with the latter greatly outperforming the former. Both categories were addressed in various fronts including customer acquisition, engagement, retention, messaging, sales, and profits.  

Mobile marketing’s greatest strengths among these categories come as no surprise: engagement and messaging lead the pack. This makes sense as mobile marketing certainly compliments the way people intrinsically use their devices to communicate and engage with content in real time. 

Like all things that promise a big payoff, there are risks involved. One of the issues most noted in the survey is the difficulty involved in quantitatively assessing the success or failure of social media marketing. Currently, social media sites are among the most trafficked via mobile.

Today, much of the marketing done via social media is handled by a third party, so getting accurate data or analytics can be difficult, sometimes impossible depending on the platform.  

CMOs have the difficult task of weighing the risks of ambiguous social media campaigns, with pressures from board members and other higher-ups who have noted behavioral trends shifting increasingly towards mobile.

That being said, it looks like getting ahead of this mobile increase comes down to research and analysis before dollars and cents. 


September 02, 2015

How to Keep Your Smartphone in Tip Top Running Condition


Smartphones are capable of performing so many tasks, there’s almost no digital activity for which they can’t be used. Problem is, they’re still handheld devices with limited space, and too much media - especially big files like music and video - will quickly prompt the dreaded alert: storage space is running low. 

It’s a first world problem, to be sure, but no less irritating when you’re in the middle of filming an important event and you have to scramble to free up space. Thankfully, there are some shortcuts to freeing up space in a bind. Let’s take a look at the steps you can take to keep your mobile device running smoothly:


Identify the Worst Offenders

The first order of business is to find out which apps and data are hogging the memory. On iPhones, go to Settings > General > Usage > Manage Storage; on Android, tap Settings and then Storage - the Apps entry will give you a breakdown of every app. 

Now there are decisions to be made. Is there anything you don’t use at all? Are there apps you could easily download again in future that you don’t need to run right now? Deleting a couple of games and bulky apps will usually solve most space issues - and even trashing some of the data contained within an app frees up a surprising amount of memory, as we’ll see…


Cleaning Up

Apps hoard a lot more data than many people think. Cached Spotify playlists; stored episodes on iPlayer; cookies in Chrome; offline webpages stored in history; maps in navigation apps… the list goes on. Cherrypicking the least useful elements from all of these will clear up a lot of space. 

For Android devices, try going to Apps in Settings and selecting entries to clear caches and temporary data. The Privacy section (both iOS and Android) lets you erase temporary files. Don’t forget the ready availability of third-party apps designed to help you clear space. Android is particularly well-served in this regard, with apps like Clean Master and The Cleaner offering good results, both in terms of clearing junk data and improving security.


Backing Up

For some reason, backing up mobile data using external hard drives is not as popular as it should be. Sure, most people will do this with their laptops and desktops, but smartphones - which have drastically less memory - tend to be isolated. It needn’t be this way.

Take a few minutes once a month to dump photos, music and video from your mobile device onto a hard drive or in the cloud. There’s no shortage of options to achieve this end, on both iOS and Android devices. In-built apps like iCloud and Google Photos work well, as does Dropbox, but whatever method you plump for, it makes sense to back everything up twice (once in the cloud, once on a hard drive).


The Nuclear Option

Still not happy with how your phone is running? If all else fails, and you’ve backed up every file you want to keep, you can always opt for a factory reset, which will make your device run like new.

August 28, 2015

How to Reach Students with Your Mobile Marketing Campaign


There’s a good reason marketers scramble to get the attention of college students. Sure, they’re increasingly hard to reach, but according to a new eMarketer report, college students are “poised to out-earn and outspend non-college millennials for decades to come.” 

There are 19 million college students in the US, and nearly all of them are mobile users engaged in multiple social networks. These networks have become the primary playground for creative marketers, as they bypass traditional media buys with shareable content. 


The Social Student 

College students aren’t just looking to be entertained. According to the report, students are influenced to buy by several factors including peer recommendations and money-saving discounts. While this may or may not be surprising, it does speak to the tech-savvy side of millennials—marketers can’t just throw money at targeted mobile displays or video. A student-targeted mobile marketing campaign needs to be cleverer than that.  

According to Michael Hanley, an advertising professor at Ball State University, “About 65 percent of students report receiving mobile ads, and 70 percent of them don’t like it.”

Social campaigns are the remedy to this marketing problem. Matt Britton, CEO of MRY, a creative and technology agency headquarter in New York, said, “The most effective form of social media marketing is always creating content that’s highly shareable.” 


Short and Sweet 

To keep marketers on their toes, the sharable content should also be compact—small enough to consume within the restrictive space of mobile screens and short attention span of the college user. 

“When you think about people on their phones,” Britton continued, “they’re scrolling so quickly that if you try to come up with long-form content, they’re not going to take time to read it.”

Some apps are built for this kind of content; SnapChat and Vine, for example, proliferate this kind of content with an emphasis on creativity and viralability. Marketers simply have to find ways to appeal to students from within these and other social networks to succeed in communicating new products and services. Explore what these apps can do for your next mobile marketing campaign.


Say Less, Show More 

Britton also advises the use of imagery as a means to communicate more effectively within the time and size constraints. Instagram is one app that has defined the practical use of creative imagery to build brand recognition and communicate sales and discounts. Moreover, GIFs have recently increased in popularity across nearly every social media channel, which really drives home Britton’s point.  

Does this mean the written word is doomed on the Internet? As far as marketers are concerned, it would seem so, with long-form content being replaced by hashtags and images that are presumably worth 1,000 words. As for the students, most of their reading must get done in textbooks. 



August 17, 2015

Apple Dodges 'Lost Messages' Lawsuit


Earlier this month, Apple escaped what could have become a major headache: a lawsuit that threatened to open the floodgates to many more. Had it moved forward, Apple stood to lose millions of dollars in damages.

The class action related to the widely-publicized iMessage glitch that saw millions of messages go undelivered. The gremlin affected a specific subset of mobile users who had switched from iOS devices to Androids within their existing contracts. 

According to the plaintiffs, Apple willfully kept SMS messages sent from iMessage to non-Apple devices, failing to notify either the sender or receiver that they had not been delivered. Furthermore, the company was accused of taking insufficient action to remedy the problem, leaving Android users to find solutions of their own. 

What nobody disputes is that Apple knew about the bug. When it first emerged last year, they unceremoniously introduced a microsite where users could deregister their iMessage accounts. Although this went some way towards alleviating the problem, the solution was poorly advertised, leaving many Android ‘defectors’ in the dark. Apple also faced criticism for offering a solution that required users to fix the problem themselves. 

Savvy Android users with their ears to the digital-ground did find their own solutions, such as requesting their iPhone contacts to sever the iMessage connection between phone numbers.  

Despite the widespread inconvenience caused by Apple’s inaction, US District Judge Lucy Koh ruled that the class action lawsuit couldn’t move forward. Judge Koh said that the plaintiffs could not prove they were inconvenienced by any ‘contractual breach or interference’ owing to the iMessage glitch. She went on to say, however, that individual claims could still be filed against Apple, offering some hope to other parties affected by the issue. 

Judge Koh stated:

“[The] Plaintiff does not have to allege an absolute right to receive every text message in order to allege that Apple’s intentional acts have caused an ‘actual breach or disruption’ of the contractual relationship.”

Though the ruling offers a legal opportunity for further lawsuits, the reality of mounting a case against one of the biggest corporations in the world is likely to prove prohibitively expensive. Whether they acted, or failed to act, out of malice - as some cynics have suggested - or whether it was an honest oversight with an inadequate response, it looks like Apple has had a lucky escape from a potentially disastrous slew of lawsuits.

July 28, 2015

SMS Messaging: Conversation Before Apps


Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art? For a GUI (Graphic User Interface) designer, that question is becoming more relevant as the nature of the mobile user influences app development—perhaps towards a post app world? 

That’s a scary thought for a GUI designer, or a developer who unintentionally overlooked the simple truth that text messaging is far and away the most commonly used feature on a smartphone. Almost 97% of all smartphones users engage in text messaging; this familiarity creates incredible potential for a new generation of text-based application that can solve any problem an app can solve, through a more convenient interface: the text screen. 


Text-Based Apps Are Nothing New

The above, however, is not a new revelation. In fact, some apps controlled exclusively via text or SMS messaging already exist. Magic, for example, can help you reserve a table, check a bank account, or buy a car, all via text between a user and a concierge (an actual human being) who assists with these requests. WeChat is another app that uses text to bypass traditional apps altogether—effectively creating a universal portal to all things mobile.

According to a recent study by Pew Research Center, across all age groups in the US, text messaging is the most popular feature used on a smartphone. In this way, life is beginning to challenge the artist; while app designers may have intended to make our lives easier by developing apps to meet out every need, at the end of the day, people are universally more comfortable texting—having a virtual conversation to get at what they want. 

There are some people, like Matt Galligan, co-founder of the news aggregation app Circa, that believe we’re headed towards an overhaul of basic software and design. Galligan feels that something called “MessageKit” will be Apple’s catchall for apps located in iMessage. Instead of opening different apps with different design characteristics and UI controls, all the apps would perform their same functions but via text command or queries inside a fluid conversation.  

Apple’s new iOS 9 has already made some considerable shifts in its latest version, one of which is prioritizing app content for Internet search queries made via mobile. While there’s nothing like “MessageKit” available quite yet, it’s an interesting theory that attempts to recognize the user’s reality in a predominantly designer-shaped mobile world. 

One foreseeable drawback is that our familiarity with texting may causes people to use these services at inappropriate times. For example, texting while driving is already a major concern in densely populated areas. Additional text-based services may further encourage our desire for instant access, even behind the wheel.  

It’s ironic that an entire generation gets labeled as ‘less socially communicative’ because it’s always on smartphones, and yet, somehow, that same generation may bring society back full circle, where the digital dialect of texting is used to reinsert what was missing from our mobile lives: conversation.