Mobile Forecasts

90 posts categorized

March 02, 2015

Mobile Marketing is 'Next Big Thing' Says Mediacom Boss

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The fundamental differences between mobile marketing automation and web marketing automation must be thoroughly understood by marketers so they can provide a great user experience “across all touchpoints.” This is according to Ben Phillips, Medicom’s head of mobile.

While advertisers have pushed automated content on mobile devices for awhile now, an ambiguous view of how people switch between platforms has marred efforts. A form of mobile automated marketing that “goes beyond” the standard mobile app is set to become more ubiquitous as proximity triggers and push notifications increase in use.  

Phillips emphasizes the idea that mobile is no longer limited to phones, and that brands must take this into consideration. He notes the most successful advertisers are those who have designed creative mobile strategies first and “appreciate how their audience chooses to engage with them and provides the correct response.” In retail, for example, it’s a good idea to connect the experience with CRM, and personalize ads with relevant context rather than pushing random ads to shoppers as they browse aisles.  

The Mediacom boss also notes the role creativity will play in automated mobile marketing, “as many brands start to build 'mobile first' content that is relevant to the consumer regardless of point of engagement. Automated mobile marketing will enable deeper CRM learnings and processes that lead brands to a more personal one-to-one dialogue with their consumers.”

Audience data is essential to craft personalized dialogue with customers, and Phillips predicts “the race this year will be to obtain a persistent tracking identifier for an individual across platforms. By this I don’t just mean mobile and desktop, we need to be able to verify individuals against wearable devices, a smart TV a connected car and internet of things.”

Brands must step up their automated mobile marketing game and fully understand the wide spectrum that is mobile. Medicom is arguably ahead of the game, as the company is working on partnerships similar to its relationship with advertising technology platform Celtra. This means Medicom can create rich media ad units for both desktop and mobile.

“I believe [brands] aren’t doing enough because they aren’t being directed, taught or educated in the right way,” remarked Phillips. “Our industry will begin to consolidate and roll up into digital within the next year. The 'systems' lead thinking approach will win out as it becomes ever more apparent that mobile sits in every marketing and advertising discipline and not as a siloed specialist function.”

The consumer is at the heart of any mobile strategy, so focusing on a well-rounded marketing ploy that includes multiple platform and advertising options is key. Phillips is correct in recommending brands determine how their audience opts to engage them, and to build a mobile marketing strategy from there. The companies that take advantage of this idea are the ones who will figuratively blow competition out of the water in the next few years. 

 

February 11, 2015

South Africa's Mobile Future

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In Europe and North America, mobile marketing relies on an even-handed mixture of text messaging, mobile-optimized websites, apps, push notifications and targeted advertising. In the U.S., where smartphones comprise 70% of the mobile market and tens of thousands of new apps are launched each month, constant change is the name of the game.  

Not so in South Africa. An estimated 70.6% of the population use feature phones. Devising a mobile marketing campaign capable of reaching the masses requires a heavy reliance on SMS messaging, with less attention paid to the latest digital advertising buzzwords getting American execs in a tizzy. 

The beauty of text message marketing is you don’t have to worry about differentials between operating systems. It doesn’t discriminate by device. Ads necessarily have to follow the same format: concise messages with small images (or none at all). In developing economies like South Africa, mobile marketers must be as cost-sensitive as their audience if they want to synchronize. 

Despite the proliferation of feature phones - which have limited internet capabilities and can’t support apps - voice usage is declining in South Africa as much as everywhere else. Mobility 2014, a study conducted in association with the First National Bank, little more than half the money spent on mobile by Millennials goes towards voice (down from 66% in 2012). Data spend, however, has increased from 17% to 24% - an impressive rate of growth for a country with notoriously expensive data packages. 

Although it’s currently a supporting player, smartphone usage is growing in the region. According to the South African Social Media Landscape 2015 study, YouTube’s South African audience grew by a staggering 53% between 2013 and 2014. This audience will continue to grow as data costs become proportionate to the rest of the world.

Mobile evolution might be moving more slowly in South Africa, but it is moving. A forward-thinking mobile marketing campaign will cover both bases. It will recognize that diverse countries require diverse strategies. For most businesses, SMS messaging will be the fulcrum of a good mobile marketing campaign. 

That’s not to say that a text message marketing campaign in South Africa is a picnic. With 11 official languages and a wide social strata covering everyone from rural farmers to globally successful entrepreneurs (Elon Musk is a Pretoria native), mobile marketing in South Africa demands a wide-ranging approach. Keep one eye on the dominant feature phone and the other on the growing data economy and you won’t go far wrong.

February 08, 2015

Former Ad Tech Exec Investing Millions in Mobile

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Longtime mobile ad exec Nihal Mehta used to focus on ensuring advertisers invested in mobile ad platforms. Now he’s interested in assisting the new generation of mobile businesses. 

Mehta retired from mobile ad tech firm LocalResponse in 2013, now known as Qualia, where he served as CEO. He wanted to focus on mobile startup investment full-time via the firm he co-founded in 2009, Eniac Ventures. The firm raised $55 million to invest in the mobile tech landscape, and is looking to put the money into early-stage mobile startups. Mehta noted his firm is especially interested in companies who have not yet “raised a funding round,” are still in product development, and probably haven’t generated revenue. 

The areas that piqued the interest of Mehta and crew in regards to mobile startups include connected devices, personal utility, app development tools, messaging and communications, enterprise, marketplaces, and commerce. Mobile ad tech that “spans several categories” will also be high on the firm’s to-do list according to Mehta, who pointed out the increase of free ad-supported mobile apps such as Snapchat and Instagram, neither of which run standard display ads.

"The next big wave of mobile ad tech companies will be bigger than we've ever seen because they're going to be forced to deal with a supply of new inventory. It doesn't live anymore in banner ads; it lives in messaging, communications, interstitials, natively," Mehta remarked recently. He sold his mobile-marketing firm ipsh! to Omnicom in 2005.

Eniac Ventures was co-founded in 2009 with three fellow University of Pennsylvania graduates. It has stakes in Airbnb, Circa and SoundCloud, and also invested in several ad tech companies, including Mehta's former company Qualia, as well as Adtrib, mParticle, and Localytics.

As of now the company has made eight investments, including in password replacement tool LaunchKey, on-demand parking service Luxe Valet, and social commerce company Strut. Mehta and the Eniac Ventures team want to invest in at least 15 more companies by the year’s end. 

Eniac Ventures plans to initially invest $500,000 in each of the 35 startups, which equals more than the $250,000 per company. Mehta noted Eniac Ventures is setting aside two-thirds of the $55 million fund as “follow-up money”, which he plans to reinvest in the companies as they grow and become successful.

The follow-up money is essential because "in today's market you can get money from anybody," said Mehta.  "Funds that can't follow can create a negative signal to the marketplace. And oftentimes entrepreneurs want to know they're getting in bed with somebody who can support them all the way.” 

Companies Eniac Ventures invested in and have subsequently been acquired include Mobile ad-targeting specialist Metaresolver, which was sold to mobile ad-tech company Millennial Media in 2013. Ad-tech firm Beanstock Media bought mobile publishing technology company Onswipe in 2014, while Twitter acquired mobile retargeting firm TapCommerce the same year. 

 

February 05, 2015

Twitter Buys Indian Mobile Marketing Startup

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If you’re a mobile marketer, your marketing message might just be the next big thing in India, all thanks to a microblogging site’s ambitious investment abroad. Last week, Twitter purchased a startup corporation in India, called Zipdial.  

Indicative of the current ubiquitous nature of mobile phones and the decrease in their manufacturing costs, India has grown to one of the largest users of mobile phones worldwide. But the country has yet to get fully connected to the internet via mobile technology. Many people still use the mobile internet on a pay-per-site basis, with fewer than 40% of the populace having any kind of mobile internet access.

Zipdial, however, has revolutionized advertising for the burgeoning economy of the developing country. The startup allows its users to call a business’ phone number, then simply hang up. The business then registers the incoming phone number and responds with free text messages, app notifications, and even voice calls with advertisements.

This method of advertising has been dubbed “missed call” marketing. It allows users of Zipdial to receive advertisements from businesses they are interested in without having an internet connection. And best of all, there is no mobile cost to the consumer for receiving these ads. It's an effective way in, providing solutions in places many mobile marketing campaigns cannot reach.

So why is Twitter so interested in India? Because it is now one of the most rapidly growing mobile markets in the world. As cited last week in a Mobile Marketing Watch article, the Internet & Mobile Association of India and IMRB International report that the mobile internet industry of India has had unprecedented growth in 2014 – and 2015 is on par to surpass even that. Mobile internet growth increased over 25% in all of 2014, and is forecasted to grow another 23% in just the first half of 2015. Also reported in the article, rural use of mobile phones in India is expected to grow another 18%.

Zipdial boasts that its campaigns have reached nearly 60 million users, and the company is run by just over 50 employees. Mobile journalists have predicted that this technology will be effective in other countries as well, like Brazil and Indonesia. And according to reporters, these markets are key for Twitter, as 77% of Twitter’s monthly active users hail from outside the United States.

Twitter did not disclose how much they paid for the firm. But this purchase certainly exemplifies the notion that mobile technology and text marketing are proliferating immensely throughout the developing world. 

 

January 30, 2015

Is “Paidmium” Really the New Freemium?

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Mobile apps have been changing their business models right under our noses. The newest model is called “Paidmium,” which refers to a mobile app that one must purchase from iTunes or Google Play – immediately requiring the user to either spend more money on in-app purchases or perhaps look at ads within the application.

Yep, you read that right. First you pay for the app, and then you pay more.

The current debate in the mobile marketing sector is whether or not Paidmium is superior to the more common mobile business model, Freemium. The truth is, the mobile marketing crystal ball is still a bit murky, and it is hard to say which business model will come out on top.

Freemium is the tried and true way for app developers to make money. Programmers create an app, offering it free to potential customers in the marketplace. Then, once the customer begins to use the app and learn its value, in-app offers are made available for the customer to purchase at will. Whether they pay or not, they can still utilize the original app, but their access to some of the other features may be limited.

According to a study by App Annie and IDC, apps based on the Freemium business model dominated in 2013. What this means is that, by and large, mobile users downloaded more Freemium apps – and spent more money within them – than users spent on any other type of app (i.e. Paidmium, Paid apps, or apps with in-app advertising). For developers who want to make some money, Freemium appears to be the model of choice. 

Let’s change gears for a moment, though: suppose we consider the top fifty grossing apps for iPhones in the past year. Every single app was either a Paid app or a Paidmium app (save for two). That means that the biggest players in the business are charging for their apps to be downloaded in the first place. And perhaps you’ve guessed that top three highest grossing apps out of fifty were video game apps.

Mobile app gaming consumption may be the leader in time spent on mobile devices, but the success doesn’t stop there. In 2014, the mobile gaming app market was worth 17 billion dollars, and exactly half of the revenue from these games came from in-app purchases. When this kind of money is on the table, you can bet that a lot of developers are looking to get in on the Paidmium action. 

Only time will tell which way the app business model will go, and what will be the preferred choice for mobile marketing campaign managers. As of late, most developers certainly prefer the Freemium model for its simplicity coupled with a broad customer base. But the Paidmium model is gaining traction (particularly with gamers), and we’re bound to see more apps that flourish under the Paidmium model.

 

January 27, 2015

Net Neutrality Vote Happening on February 26th

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During a discussion at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler announced that the commission will vote on a proposal to reinstate Net neutrality rules. The vote will take place at an open commission meeting on February 26th. 

Wheeler also said the proposal will circulate among commissioners beginning February 5th, and while he didn’t delve into specifics, Wheeler alluded the new proposal will “reclassify broadband traffic” as part of Title II utility. Some supporters believe this reclassification will put new neutrality rules on “stronger legal footing.”  

In November 2014 President Obama encouraged the FCC to reclassify Internet traffic under Title II of the Communications Act, though Wheeler has not said whether he supports the president’s suggestion. 

Net neutrality is defined as the idea that all online traffic is subject to fair treatment by broadband providers, meaning no restrictions or preferential treatment is bestowed on certain types of traffic. The FCC is working on new rules that will replace those adopted in 2010.

The issue of broadband traffic reclassification has been one of the hotter issues regarding the net neutrality debate, with large broadband providers such as Verizon and AT&T noting reclassification will “stifle innovation” via imposed, antiquated telecommunications regulation for an industry they believe has evolved positively despite no government regulation. However, other consumer advocates and Internet companies such as Netflix say broadband service reclassification is the only option for ensuring new Net neutrality rules hold up in future court challenges.  

During his discussion with Consumer Electronics Association head Gary Shapiro, Wheeler made it quite clear that the FCC’s approach to the proposal will not include “all of the restrictions under Title II meant for traditional telephony networks to broadband.” Rather, the proposed rules would “forbear or exclude” broadband from clinging to Communications Act provisions that don’t apply to broadband service. 

He said the idea is to make certain that the agency can “provide a legal standing” for rules prohibiting broadband providers from “blocking content, throttling traffic, or offering a paid prioritization service.” The other idea is to ensure Internet service providers manage their wares in a way that is transparent to customers.

"The wireless industry has been wildly successful as a Title II regulated industry," he said. "So there is a way to do it right."

Wireless industry reps disagree with Wheeler in terms of Title II restrictions on broadband. 

"Comparisons to the regulatory framework for mobile voice are misplaced and irrelevant," Meredith Attwell Baker, president and CEO,CTIA-The Wireless Association, said in a statement. "Congress created a regulatory regime for mobile voice under Section 332 and Title II. Congress also created a separate regulatory regime - -explicitly outside Title II -- for other services like mobile broadband. The FCC cannot now rewrite Congress's intent to rewrite the Act or rewrite history."

Wheeler has also remarked that he has “no intention of allowing broadband providers to create a two-tiered Internet of haves and have nots." The vote later this month will hopefully settle some much debated issues around this topic. 

January 21, 2015

5 Nokia Classics

If you’re over 20, you remember a time when Nokia ruled the mobile roost. The Finnish pioneers - now all but swallowed whole by Microsoft - released a huge range of handsets. Their reign began in the early 80s and culminated in an unceremonious exit from the cell phone market following the Microsoft acquisition.

What you might not remember is just how crazy some of those designs got during Nokia’s 90s heyday.  They were out on their own, with very few serious competitors. This climate fostered a sense of boundary-pushing at the company, resulting in moments of pure genius – and moments of pure folly. 

To commemorate the passing of a true mobile giant, we took a look back at some of Nokia’s most outre successes, and a few of their noble failures. It all helped today’s predictably effective tech market get where it is now. Those were strange days indeed. We’ll not see their like again…

Nokia 3210
If you owned a phone 15 years ago, it was probably one of these. Hardy, reliable and compact (it was one of the first phones to cast aside the visible exterior aerial), it’s no wonder the 3210 shifted 160 million units.

Nokia Cityman
The Cityman was Nokia’s first mobile phone. Back then, in the mid-80s, Nokia was still establishing itself as a major player. This brick of a handset - then regarded as an exclusive, highly desirable product - announced their intention to stick around, and by the end of the decade, Nokia had secured nearly 15% of the global mobile market.

Nokia 5100
The 5110 was as ubiquitous as it was hard-wearing, with an unparalleled battery life and - most importantly for terminal time wasters - the fondly-remembered Snake game. Also notable for being one of the first customizable handsets, the front panel on the 5110 could be switched out for a different color.

Nokia N90
The Nseries was another boundary-pushing innovation, representing Nokia’s first true convergence of phone and computer. The N90 was clunky as hell, and frankly it looks a bit silly in retrospect - but it really was a precursor of the multi-function smartphone we see today.  

Nokia N95
With its 5 megapixel camera, GPS and Flash-compatible browser, the N95 is a lesson in versatility. Hard to imagine now, but this was, for a short time, the world’s most powerful smartphone. 

Nokia couldn’t have done more to cement their place in history, and in light of how far they’d brought the mobile phone, you can’t help but feel sorry for them at how short-lived their smartphone king status would be. Nobody could have predicted how earth-shattering the launch of the first iPhone was. It completely changed the game. But without Nokia’s constant bar-raising, would Apple and Google have gone quite so far with their operating systems? Nobody can say. But we can raise a glass of Akvavit to those Finnish pioneers and their twenty-year reign as cell phone leaders. Here’s to you Nokia!

January 18, 2015

Nokia Unveils Cheapest Ever Web Phone

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Earlier this month Microsoft presented its latest creation: an inexpensive, internet-enabled Nokia phone. The company is hoping the device will significantly increase its market share in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. 

A $29 phone, the Nokia creation features the Opera Mini Browser and Facebook Messenger, and is capable of running Twitter among other apps. This phone is still “low-spec,” however, and includes a 320 x 240 pixel display, 0.3 megapixel camera, radio and a torchlight. The lack of high-tech specifications indicate the durability and affordability of the device, something attractive to those in developing countries. Microsoft notes its battery lasts up to 29 days on standby, with the software engineered for more “difficult terrains.” The built-in apps work without a 3G connection. 

This phone also makes it possible to connect in new ways via SLAM, which allows content sharing between devices and those making hands-free calls through Bluetooth 3.0 and Bluetooth audio support for headsets.

Additional features include up to 20 hours of talk time, MP3 playback for up to 50 hours, FM radio playback for up to 45 hours, and a VGA camera. Available in white, green or black, the device’s polycarbonate shell retains its color if scratched. The soft rubber keys are easy to use, and Microsoft notes the phone feels “fantastic in your hand.”  

The technology giant also points out the importance of the torch feature, as it will be useful when shipping the phone around the world, particularly to the 20% of the population that doesn’t have regular access to electricity. 

Advertised as the “most affordable internet-ready entry-level phone yet”, Microsoft says the phone is “perfectly suited for first-time mobile phone buyers or as a secondary phone for just about anyone.” 

“With our ultra-affordable mobile phones and digital services, we see an inspiring opportunity to connect the next billion people to the Internet for the first time,” said Jo Harlow, corporate vice president of Microsoft Devices Group. “The Nokia 215 is perfect for people looking for their first mobile device, or those wanting to upgrade to enjoy affordable digital and social media services, like Facebook and Messenger.”

The Nokia 215 is slated for release in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia during the first quarter of 2015. Normal and dual SIM versions will be available.

The $29 price tag is before taxes and subsidiaries; but it still seems to be a great deal for a versatile phone that’s “built to last.”

January 15, 2015

The Tizen Smartphone Has Finally Arrived

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The long awaited Tizen smartphone was unveiled yesterday in New Delhi. It represents Samsung’s first major break from Google, whose Android platform has dominated the Korean company’s phones (and indeed the global mobile market).

The launch comes after 18 months of rumor, gossip and speculation swirling around the operating system. In August 2013 Samsung delayed the release of the first Tizen-run handset until the end of that year. Then another twelve months passed, during which tech-watchers the world over speculated the firm’s enthusiasm for the platform had waned.

Then Samsung seemed to switch focus, heralding Tizen as an OS tailor-made for cross-convergence. In an interview with CNET Korea, Samsung’s CEO J.K. Shin said:

"There are many convergences not only among IT gadgets, including smartphones, tablets, PCs, and cameras, but also among different industries like cars, bio, or banks. Cross-convergence is the one [area] Samsung can do best since we do have various parts and finished products."

Shin failed to mention the much-anticipated Tizen round smartwatch. This omission was either an oversight on his part, or another indication that the rumor mill is spinning out of control on all matters Tizen.

All we know is the Samsung Z1 is definitely here. Or rather, there. Samsung is training its sights firmly on developing markets where Apple and Android are less entrenched. In India, where the Z1 was unveiled, 70% of people still use basic cellphones, and designers of entry-level smartphones are hoping the only impediment to smartphone adoption is a financial one. Create an affordable device for everyone and, in theory, everyone will upgrade.

Gaining a strong foothold in markets like India is crucial to Tizen’s long-term success. App developers won’t bother developing iterations of their products for a new operating system unless its future is assured. Lack of interest from app developers and carriers have already forestalled the release of a Tizen smartphone in Japan, France and Russia. Whether the India release is accompanied by market support or is more of a hit-and-hope strategy on Samsung’s part remains to be seen.

But even with a price tag of just $92, the phone’s success is far from guaranteed. There are (unconfirmed) suggestions that Google has barred its smartphone partners from using anything but Android in major markets. If that’s true, Samsung will have to make a huge splash in niche markets before it develops an ecosystem large enough to do away with their Google alliance.

The biggest profits may lie in smartphones, but wearable tech may be the more secure route for Samsung. They’ve already released a Tizen-powered television and camera, and are planning to integrate the OS into home appliances. Clearly, Samsung is trying to position itself as a leader in the ‘Internet of Things’, connecting household devices to each other with one overarching platform.

Certainly, there’s a lot less legwork to be done in the home appliance market. Samsung is the biggest television brand in the world, with about a third of the global marketplace sewn up. If Tizen can’t become a serious rival to Android and Apple, either through entry-level devices in developing markets or by making user switch allegiances, Samsung need only retain its position as a leading electronics name in order to bring their fledgling operating system to millions.

 

 

 

January 09, 2015

The World’s Most Valuable Startup

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As of Monday, December 29th, 2014, the Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has become the world’s most valuable startup. Late in 2014, the company closed its last round of funding, topping off its latest run at $1.1 billion dollars. With that, Xiaomi’s valuation has skyrocketed to $45 billion – past even the controversial pseudo-taxi startup Uber (valued at $40 billion).

If you haven’t heard of Xiaomi before, you are not alone. The company is a giant in China, however, with brick and mortar locations throughout the country. After taking advantage of a void in the Chinese smartphone market, Xiaomi has managed to increase their manufacturing output, and they are now the third largest smartphone manufacturer in the world. In their third quarter report of 2014, Xiaomi sold over 16 million units, an increase above last years’ report by over 3.5 million.

Many people throughout China prefer to purchase Xiaomi phones due to their low-cost. Samsung and Apple are still the power players throughout the world, and they have retained a good deal of the Chinese smartphone market. In the past year, though, sales by these juggernauts have been chipped away by Xiaomi – Samsung’s sales in particular, which has declined by 29 percent in the region. Surprisingly, Xiaomi’s gross sales in China has not come as close to defeating iPhone sales. Apple still retained $25.4 billion in sales in China alone, while Xiaomi only garnered $56 million in sales. 

Some of the controversy surrounding the startup includes a breach of international patents, but these claims have yet to be proven. Though Xiaomi publicly claims to operate under thousands of patents, most cell phone manufacturers own patents in the tens of thousands. And with their tight margins, it is unlikely that they are manufacturing under a series of licensing deals. In any case, the success of their business model is evident: build it cheap, run it with Android-based software, and sell it everywhere (in China). 

Xiaomi has announced that their next step will be to branch out into similar foreign markets, like Brazil and India. While Brazil fits all of the criteria of their business model, India is a bit less likely to embrace it. Historically, India has been wary of Chinese technology, and many consumers fear that the Chinese government will use the devices to spy on Indian citizens. Xiamoi has these and other roadblocks to get past as they expand into the rest of the Asian and potentially the South American market…but ambitions are obviously high.

The upshot for mobile marketing campaign managers is an increased need to cater their strategy to a variety of devices. Mobile marketing tactics that are effective at reaching iPhone users may not have the same impact on Android-based devices. Flexibility and adaptability are the watchwords for 2015, and if Xiamoi's explosive success is anything to go by, the world of mobile marketing and the wider world of tech should expect the unexpected.