Leading app platform Smaato recently announced results from its Global Trends in Mobile Advertising H2 2018 report. The report reveals significant growth across key advertising metrics, including ad request volume and eCPMs.
As advertisers direct more money into mobile advertising and consumers continue to adopt smartphones around the world, demand and supply both increased year-over-year, indicating a healthy mobile ad market.
The highest growth region across all metrics was APAC. India stood out from the pack with a 425% growth in mobile ad requests. This was more than twice the growth rate of the fastest growing markets in EMEA and the Americas, which were led by Spain at 152% and the USA at 170% respectively. India’s meteoric ad request growth is characteristic of an emerging mobile market in which the number of mobile device owners, their time spent on mobile, and overall app downloads all rise quickly.
Ad Request Growth on the Smaato Platform
APAC – 44% Growth
EMEA – 23% Growth
Americas – 23% Growth
India – 425%
Spain – 152%
USA – 170%
South Korea – 177%
Netherlands – 87%
Colombia – 150%
Thailand – 77%
France – 82%
Argentina – 141%
Japan – 53%
UK – 70%
Mexico – 83%
Vietnam – 50%
Italy – 61%
Brazil – 54%
Asia Pacific also saw significant eCPM growth in addition to ad request growth. The top five countries in the region in terms of eCPM growth were:
Japan – 125%
Australia – 111%
Hong Kong – 99%
Indonesia – 96%
Alex Khan, Managing Director, APAC at Smaato explains, “The impressive ad request and eCPM growth in APAC are driven by app developers finding new ways to better monetize their content even as consumers are spending more time on apps. Advertisers from all verticals are realizing that apps are where consumers are — and they are directing more funds into this channel.”
He adds, “With app usage increasing across the region, there will also be more monetization opportunities for mobile publishers.”
2018 marks the 10 year anniversary for both the Apple App Store and Android market. In the short time since the first wave of apps were published in 2008, they have impacted the lives of people all over the world on an unprecedented level. There are now apps for almost anything and everything – hugely successful apps that incorporate AR and VR, apps dedicated to events, and even an app just for popping bubble wrap.
Who could ever have imagined that apps would evolve from the simple Snake game on the Nokia phone (yes that was an app), to driving a $6.3 trillion industry in 2021?
Looking back over 2017, the app economy has hit some significant milestones:
By the end of October 2017, the iOS App Store and Google Play had more than 2 million and more than 3.5 million apps available, respectively.
New apps continue to be introduced at a strong pace. During the month ending October 31, 2017, roughly 50,000 new apps launched on the iOS App Store and over 150,000 were added to Google Play.
Across mature markets, users have up to 90 or 100 apps installed on their devices, 30 of which they use on a monthly basis. On average, people are spending two hours per day — which equates to one month out of every year — in apps.
More than 40 countries will generate over $100 million in consumer spend in 2017 for iOS App Store and Google Play combined.
Apps play a key role in almost every industry today, including retail, banking, travel, QSR, CPG and media & entertainment .
It is apparent that the evolution of mobile apps have transformed the everyday lives of people, and users continuously expect their favourite apps to be improved. There are several aspects of an app which users expect to be improved, but convenience is a core theme that underlies many of our predictions as we look to 2018.
1. Worldwide Gross Consumer App Store Spend Blows Past the $100 Billion Mark
The continued evolution of markets across the globe has led app monetization to continuously grow at an outstanding rate. Apart from games, which traditionally account for the majority of overall spend, we foresee spending in e-commerce apps such as Alibaba and Amazon to drive worldwide consumer spend – which is expected to grow about 30% year on year to exceed $110 billion in 2018. In APAC, consumer spend on apps hit $17.1 billion in H1 2017 alone.
2. App Store Curation Drives Higher Overall IAP Revenue and Expands Opportunity for Independent Publishers
In June 2017, both Apple and Google announced updates to the iOS App Store and Google Play aimed to alleviate this issue through app curation and editorial content. We predict that these updates will have a significant impact on apps in 2018, in particular apps that help people occupy their leisure time. These types of apps, which tend to be entertainment-centric, are most likely to connect with consumers when they are casually browsing through the app stores. Conversely, “needs-based” apps such as UberEats or DBS PayLah! are far more likely to be downloaded based on word of mouth recommendations or focused searches when a user encounters a particular need.
3. Broader Adoption of AR Apps
Pokémon GO and Snapchat sparked huge interest in augmented reality (AR) among the masses, and we foresee that AR will take another significant step forward towards realizing its massive potential in 2018.
Facebook, Google and Apple have taken the lead at their developer conferences in 2017, and together with the Chinese powerhouses Alibaba , Baidu and Tencent , have set the foundation for AR-related initiatives. These initiatives will accelerate the space by making it easier and faster for publishers to develop AR apps, while also stoking consumer interest. For example, in Japan, starting in May 2017, there has been a significant increase in iPhone app downloads for the top ranking apps by “Augmented Reality” app store search in Japan, and other APAC countries.
4. Fragmentation of the Video Streaming Space Accelerates
It is now not an uncommon sight to see people catching up on their favourite Netflix series or Hollywood movies while on the move. 2017 has been another extraordinary year for video streaming services and total time spent in Video and Entertainment apps tripled to almost 40 billion hours in APAC alone.
Between H1 2015 and H1 2017, time spent in the Video Players and Entertainment categories on Android phones in APAC has tripled to reach close to 40 billion hours – almost half of the worldwide total.
Year to date through October 31, 2017, these apps have driven significant growth of worldwide consumer spend for the Entertainment category on both iOS and Google Play. However, as some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry and app economy — including Netflix , Apple , Google , Facebook , Snap and Disney — have announced huge plans to expand their footprints in variety of ways, we expect that 2018 to mark the beginning of an inflection point for this space, in terms of fragmentation. In fact, our research shows that Android users in South Korea who use video streaming apps are significantly more likely than average to be accessing other video and related entertainment services.
Overall, this space will continue to see steady growth in terms of revenue and engagement, but in the years that follow, consumers may start to rationalize how they spend their time and money among a dizzying array of choices, resulting in some players succumbing to profit pressures as they get crowded out of this competitive space.
5. Mobile Pushes Towards the Center of the Retail Customer Journey
Analysts and experts have pronounced the retail apocalypse in recent times, and we see apps as a way to reinvigorate consumers’ retail experience. Brick-and-mortar retailers have already embraced apps and shoppers are now very engaged; results are telling from the Great Singapore Sale 2017 , which saw an increase in sales thanks to the GoSpree app. In Indonesia, which has a population of 261 million and a burgeoning middle class, users spend an average of just over 90 minutes per month in Shopping apps, placing it at #2 after South Korea. On 11 November 2017, dubbed Single’s Day, Alibaba generated a record breaking $25.3 billion in sales, with mobile users accounting for 90% of sales. These numbers are only the beginning of what is a rapidly evolving retail experience for consumers.
Come 2018, apps will continue to cause consumers to change their shopping habits which will in turn redefine the relationship between and even the very nature of existing retail channels (e.g., mobile app, web, brick-and-mortar). China, for instance, is one huge influencer in this area. We are seeing people in western markets increasingly use physical stores as a place to pick up items purchased on mobile. In addition, cash registers’ longstanding role in the checkout and payment process will become reduced, or in some cases replaced, by mobile. For many consumers, mobile will be a core part of the shopping experience regardless of channel.
6. Restaurant Aggregators Drive Mobile Conversion as Delivery-as-a-Service Further Penetrates Premium Markets
As we predicted last year, there was some consolidation in the food delivery space. Looking ahead to next year, we expect that aggregators such as Korea’s Yogiyo will continue to expand the addressable market for this space by opening up under penetrated markets as well as converting users who do not currently use mobile apps from intermediaries to order meals. Meanwhile, delivery as a service (DaaS) providers (e.g., UberEATS , Deliveroo) will gain market share in premium markets where customers are more likely to pay more for higher-end restaurants that don’t have their own delivery fleets. Furthermore, we expect more quick-service restaurants (QSR) to respond to the increased competition from food delivery by partnering with DaaS apps, similar to McDonald’s growing partnership with UberEATS . As with video streaming, this space will face consolidation in later years as it needs to rationalize the fragmentation felt by customers and the profit pressures felt by service providers competing in a crowded space.
7. Finance-Related Apps Poised for Most Significant Transformation in 2018
In 2017 in Asia-Pacific specifically, the growth of downloads in the Finance category outpaced all app categories (non-games) combined, with China leading the way. Person-to-person (P2P) payment apps, like WeChat, AliPay, GoPay, Grab Pay and PayTM have been some of the shining stars in the fintech app revolution. They have transformed how consumers, particularly millennials, exchange money, by displacing the use of cash and checks. In the next year, we expect these services to capitalize on their popularity and broaden their range of services in an effort to expand their revenue potential, fend off increased competition from traditional banks and deepen user engagement. With retailers adopting such apps as an option for customers, we expect P2P payment apps to see increased transaction volume. These initiatives have been well received by users, as they will provide even greater levels of convenience. In addition, this space will see increased activity from successful players in other categories, like messaging and social networking, who are constantly looking for additional ways to serve, monetize and engage their large user bases.
These are just a handful of areas where we expect the app economy to evolve over the near future. Despite how far this space has advanced over its first decade, it is just scratching the surface of its full potential. Users increasingly expect apps to completely transform the very nature of how they accomplish goals and tasks, as well as create brand new experiences not possible on other platforms. We are excited to see how app developers change the world by delivering on these needs over the app economy’s second decade.
Latest report from Opera Mediaworks covering Mobile advertising in 2015. Interesting to see Australia leads the world when it comes to use of video advertising on mobile.
Opera Mediaworks State of Mobile Advertising Q3 2015
A few other highlights:
Games is no. 1 for revenue. Games publishers accounted for 23.7% of revenue on the mobile ad platform, making it the top revenue-generator, beating out traditional leaders Social Networking and Music, Video & Media. Games also has a high revenue-to-impression ratio (nearly 3X), which indicates its monetization potential.
News & Information creeps up the rankings. News & Information took the no. 2 slot for revenue generation (18.3%) and for impression volume (17%), which is a boost from the 10% it captured in Q2.
Social share slips, but still on top for traffic. Social Networking apps and sites continue to be served the most impressions (18.7%), albeit a dip from the high volume it had in previous quarters (around 31%).
Marketing Matters is a monthly column covering how marketers today can use Digital to drive innovation and results
When you strip away the complexity of the outer shell, omni-channel marketing is essentially thinking holistically about the customer: their experiences, your interactions with them and the messaging you want to transmit to them. In our new mobile-centric world, there are an unlimited number of ways to do this.
As marketers, we are always searching for windows into the world of the customer – ways to connect with them and collect useful, contextually-relevant data. Today’s mobile technology is like a giant pane of glass, which lifts the curtain on the customer, enabling us to see their inner workings like never before and connect with them on entirely new levels.
This is a recent phenomenon though; in the past, mobile marketing was rudimentary and derivative – in general, websites were designed for desktops only and mobile sites were scaled-down or simplified versions of these. Designed to be simple extensions of the full ‘big screen’ sites, mobile websites were often more of an afterthought than something marketers devoted a lot of time to.
Giving mobile campaigns top priority
Today the situation is very different. Beginning in around 2013, forward-thinking marketers began taking a ‘mobile first’ attitude. With the incredible power and in-built functionality of today’s smartphones, businesses can interact with their customers in a myriad of different ways – through different touch points and new interfaces created between online and offline content thanks to augmented reality apps and the powerful cameras and processors of the next generation smartphones.
An illustration of just how far things have come is IKEA’s market-leading catalogue app, which harnesses the power of smartphones and uses augmented reality features to allow potential buyers to preview what IKEA furniture looks like in their actual homes. The experience begins when the app asks users to gather rich media content like videos and 360 degree views of a room on their phone cameras. Users then ‘drop’ selected furniture items on top of the images, previewing what they would look like in the room. Another nifty O2O feature of the app – the ‘virtual shopping list’ – is designed to be used both before and during shopping trips to physical stores. Searching for a product in the app or adding it to a shopping list will show its location within the store. A barcode scanning feature then allows customers to scan a price tag in-store and pull up additional information about the product or add it to a wish list.
But the true strength of IKEA’s omni-channel strategy extends above and beyond their mobile strategy and this excellent app. Indeed, it is their holistic view and understanding of their customer base which allows the app to succeed. They have a strong social media strategy, offering followers across numerous channels useful and appropriate household tips and tricks. Their Instagram account showcases before and after shots of home improvement projects, and their iconic physical stores underpin everything with their vibrant, magnetic presence.
Bringing it all together
IKEA gets it. Most of us have now realised that mobile marketing – indeed all online marketing – requires constant care and attention. Unlike a brand’s bricks and mortar shops, which have an enduring material presence, online campaigns don’t really ‘exist’ in the physical world, so you need to consistently work at them, refine them and retool them to make sure they’re doing what you want them to do.
Maybe this is one reason why Zalora, the Asia-based online fashion platform, chose to open a pop-up store in Hong Kong earlier this year. This store provided a seamless omni-channel customer experience in an unusual way: by acting as an offline ‘fitting room’ for the brand. The space looked just like a regular clothing store – customers could see, feel and try on the clothes – but when it came to making a purchase, they needed to go online, either by scanning a QR code and downloading the Zalora app or by placing an order online via an in-store computer. This temporary ‘clicks and mortar’ store helped boost brand awareness, generate new customers, increase sales and underline the reliability of the brand.
By understanding the customer journey and integrating social media channels, physical stores and online capabilities, your brand can also create synergy and provides a seamless, consistent and relevant brand experience – the essence of omni-channel.
Epicentro specialises in digital content development and is a member of the Pico Group
Awarded ‘Events Standard of Excellence’ and ‘Marketing Standard of Excellence’ in 2015 WebAward for Outstanding Achievement in Web Development by the Web Marketing Association
Daniel has been with Pico for over 15 years and is a seasoned event marketing industry professional. Foreseeing the ample opportunities presented by the world’s rapidly-changing technological landscape, Daniel began planning for a new business unit specialising in digital content solutions in 2010. Commencing full operations in 2014, Epicentro has spearheaded the development of unconventional technologies, helping our clients reach and stay on top of the market. Under Daniel’s leadership, Epicentro has established a strong client list spanning the commercial and government sectors: AIA, Airport Authority Hong Kong, Amway, Dragages, the government’s Environmental Protection Department and Home Affairs Department, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Jardine, Suntory and Watsons.
According to a recent Razorfish digital marketing report, Asian Marketers must be more innovative and forward-thinking than their western counterparts, to meet the technology-driven expectations of consumers in our region. Asian consumers are not only reporting higher ownership and usage of technology, they also hold higher expectations of brands and technology overall.
We talk to Joanna Kalenska, Managing Director at Razorfish Hong Kong, about Asian consumers, brands’ challenges and opportunities.
DIA: Hi Joanna, how are you?
JK: Doing fantastic, thanks.
DIA: So we’ll leap right in there. Marketers are underestimating the digital divide between Millennials and Gen Xers. How do you think this applies in Asia? Can we even say that Gen X exists in Asia?
JK: What’s fascinating about this region is the fact that when it comes to technology the differences between the generations are minimal. And this came as a clear finding during our global research report Digital Dopamine. It seems that enthusiasm towards technology is age independent in markets like the US or UK, where the differences are more prominent. But not in China for example, where despite a relatively low internet penetration people are more savvy and demanding when it comes to their technology expectations. This lack of legacy has allowed Asian markets to leapfrog directly to quite advance digital behaviors.
Also, culturally, in China, peer-to-peer purchases are part of everyday life, and so social commerce has become a widely accepted, very normal practice. And it is this that has also led to less of a gap between Gen X & Y in China, in so far as digital usage is concerned. Generation X in the West, has had to learn to trust new platforms from the start, compared to Generation Y, who grew up with this practice.
DIA: Brands need to focus more on being useful than on being interesting. Can you talk about how this applies to Asian markets? In markets where a lot of basic infrastructure is missing, do you think brands have more of a role to play?
JK: Absolutely, and precisely for that reason. To win, brands as a service must deliver meaningful utility / value everyday to stand out from the crowd. Digital Dopamine showed us Asian consumers adopt and embrace technology quickly. Often, quicker than brands are able to implement the correct infrastructure to enable experiences at the expected level. Consumers won’t wait for brands to catch up. This means that at the point where longer-term strategies are already defined, brands need to think in a fresh and innovative way. Tech-savvy consumers are not as much interested in a brand’s reputation as before, their loyalty is determined more by the total satisfaction of the brand’s omni-channel experience. Especially in Asia where there is a lot of noise and a lot of choice.
DIA: Omni-channel customers still encounter a number of friction points as they dip between online and offline platforms in search of cross-channel convenience. Do you see any interesting trends or consumer behaviours emerging specific to Asia to solve this issue?
JK: This remains a big challenge for most brands, and therefore consumers. Considering how long this concept has been on the table it’s quite surprising how slow brands are at adapting. The biggest obstacle for real omni-channel is a single view of the customer, which has been restricted because of legacy systems. Smaller, more agile brands have more chance to succeed but they often lack resources and funds to make a real and noticeable difference. To enable a smooth transition and be able to deliver on an omni-channel promise, businesses need the right data and technology infrastructure. This does not, however, stop brands from moving towards platform integration in smart and simple ways. Each business can deliver a short, medium and long-term solution to surprise and delight their customers, examples include extending catalogues online, order online & collect instore initiatives, pick in store & deliver to home or office, and more.
DIA: While we sometimes focus on the rational benefits of technology, digital interactions affect us on a biological and emotional level. Do you see marketers moving brand budget to digital yet at scale? We often think Asia is especially tech obsessed. Is this a more relevant trend here than anywhere else globally?
JK: Nowhere in the world are people as obsessed with their phones as here in Asia. Mobile first – brands have got to be mobile and social, because social proof makes the decision for the buyer.
Secondly, buying online here is very emotional and seen as gifting yourself, providing a digital rush of sorts.
DIA: What’s the future for agencies in a fast, nimble, social media world?
JK: A never-ending funnel of smart and simple ideas. We rely on clever people – that’s our IP. Being curious, quick, yet diligent and considerate has been keeping Razorfish at the top of the consideration list for our clients.
DIA: Do you think Asia has a talent problem in digital marketing and media?
JK: I think the talent problem in digital marketing is not only an Asia issue. Experienced marketers have not caught up with the ever-changing technology, and younger generation often believe that being a native user makes them know what’s required. There are very few professionals who can think and talk at the brand and business level, being at the same time connected to the target audience and the way they engage and embrace technology.
We also live in the time where everything is instant and there seem to be less time for understanding market, product or target audience context. I don’t think WHY is considered before the HOW is agreed. But this takes confidence and experience. In a world where people change jobs every 18 months, there is very little know-how building and seeing the results of your decisions or recommendations – both on the agency and the brand side.
DIA: Is advertising all about the algorithm now? Do you see data and automation emerging as serious trends in your markets?
JK: Yes and No. It can never just be about the algorithm. Real time marketing does require a deeper understanding of the audience and uses programmatic targeting and retargeting to reach them in context, when and where our message is useful. But it also requires smart human truth creative in order to be really effective.
The big problem we have in Asia is a real lack of data-led insights, because firstly, companies have never needed to collect data, they had it very easy until now, and secondly, if they have data, they are very reluctant to share it, because it might give away a competitive advantage. This will change in time once a few players have realized how great data-led insights and briefs can drive transformational execution.
DIA: We see a lot of hype around mobile, but is it really a channel to be taken seriously yet?
JK: Is this a trick question?!
DIA: Not a trick question! We are interested in both the buzz and the reality on the ground. How much attention are your clients putting towards mobile?
JK: Mobile as a content provider, mobile as a device, most of us can’t imagine life without or another channel to push advertising onto. We are asking about rational benefits but aren’t we past that, mobile is affecting us on a biological and emotional level. You can read about these effects in our report, Digital Dopamine. Digital Dopamine points out 87% of Chinese consumers report often feeling dependent on technology, that’s a pretty extreme demonstration of its importance.
Mobile-Mad is Asia, even more than the Middle East. Asian consumers are way ahead of brands in terms of how and what they use their mobiles for. Brands think that a mobile enabled site is enough, well it’s not nearly enough. Content has to be rethought to fit the smartphone screen in its entirety, and still too many clients are thinking about big screen content, which ends up looking ridiculous on the small screen. What’s worse, it doesn’t deliver the value consumers are looking for.
DIA: Oreo famously made a splash during the Super Bowl with a clever tweet during the blackout. Does something like that move the needle, or is it just something we talk about for a tiny cycle and then forget?
JK: I don’t think it’s always about moving a needle. Sometimes it’s about quick, fresh and clever thinking. Oreo did exactly that, clever thought using a popular platform. There was nothing groundbreaking about it, but it was spot on, real time marketing. So few brands are ready for it.
DIA: If you could choose between working in the sleek tech-driven world of modern advertising, or the days of Don Draper and Mad Men, what would you do?
JK: Without a doubt in the sleek tech driven word. I think the task is much more interesting and challenging on many levels. We are being challenged every day, by new technologies, by changes to legislations, new platforms, hardware software, we have to be engaged and interested or we will fall behind very quickly. 15 years ago it was easy to be an expert in a particular field. It took ages before anything changed so you could gain deep experience. We now need to be experts in a new area every day, that’s not easy and it takes a lot of intellectual openness and fresh thinking. Having said that, the creativity and courage of Mad Men mixed with the curiosity and connection of digital would be perfect.
DIA: Thank you for a hugely interesting discussion. Looking forward to chatting again soon.
Well maybe. Mobile viewability is a subset of the overall “has my ad been seen and by who” issue, but a particularly tricky one. The lack of a unique user ID is the clearest roadblock. But it’s also clear that the various technologies and vendors used to solve mobile advertising delivery issues, often create further fragmentation.
Fragmentation is especially critical when understanding exactly how ads are delivered to a mobile webpage or app. In mere milliseconds – the time it takes to load a webpage or app – a typical mobile ad is requested, analyzed, bid on, approved, and served. That’s the reality of the coming era of programmatic advertising as many of you know.
In simple terms, the entire journey of an ad, from initial request to final display, has to happen really fast. That’s what programmatic necessitates. During such a rapid journey, handoffs between technologies and vendors have to be clean and consistent.
Once the ad is actually placed, a whole other set of considerations emerge. Publishers control their site or app, deciding how and where to place the ads that get delivered. On the other hand, tech vendors control how the ad is rendered. How that rendering interacts with publisher placement can go a long way in determining viewability.
Mobile ads are also becoming more complex. The banner ad, although still incredibly popular, is receding to the back of the most-effective-ad discussion. Taking its place at the front are rich media ads and video, which offer much higher levels of interactivity, engagement and ultimately conversion.
But higher levels of creative require – you guessed it – more layers of technology. Try to integrate this creative across different operating systems, app formats, web browsers and connection types, and you have countless opportunities for viewability to break down.
And here’s the final problem: we don’t even have a set of viewability standards for mobile yet. The IAB standards are designed for desktop, and therefore really only helpful as a frame of reference. So while we wait for official mobile guidelines (expected by the end of this year), viewability on mobile will continue to have a frontier feel to it. Hopefully, there won’t be too many outlaws.