Who will be the winners and losers as mobile social rewrites digital marketing?
By Chantal Tode
December 10, 2013
Facebook is testing a mobile ad network
The digital media landscape is evolving quickly and not everyone is going to come out a winner as the rapid growth in mobile and social media changes how ads are bought and viewed.
Mobile social advertising grew 300 percent in 2013 while mobile alone is expected to attract more new dollars to advertising than any other channel going forward, according to a pair of new reports. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are well positioned to be big beneficiaries of these trends while traditional advertising agencies could be losers.
“The big platforms are finally finding ways to monetize their mobile traffic,” said Barry Lowenthal, chief innovation officer at Maxxcom Global Media and president of The Media Kitchen. “Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin all have mobile ad products, and they'll all benefit from fully monetizing their audience wherever they are.
“It's not going to benefit agencies as directly since ad budgets will probably not go up to accommodate the mobile shift,” he said. “What's going to happen is that budgets will move around to follow the audiences and the best placements.
“The entire digital media ecosystem have a lot of challenges as mobile budgets grow.”
Mobile and social advertising are attracting both new dollars to the overall global ad spend and siphoning away money that had previously been earmarked for other media channels, according to a pair of new reports.
The growth in mobile social media is the big success story of 2013 as social media use has migrated towards smartphones and tablets at a faster rate than had been anticipated, according to Magna Global.
Facebook’s share of mobile advertising reached a projected 50 percent globally in the third quarter, up from 12 percent in 2012, according to the report. Globally, mobile social advertising grew 300 percent in 2013 for a total of $2.9 billion.
Twitter is also playing a bigger role in driving mobile social ad experiences. Today, Unicorn Media announced a partnership with Twitter to enable dynamic ad insertion via the social network's video content embedding function.
According to a report from Zenith Optimedia, mobile is expanding overall media consumption without cannibalizing from other media channels. This will help drive the strongest sustained period for growth in advertising in 10 years.
Zenith Optimedia forecasts the growth in global ad spend will rise from 3.6 percent in 2013 to 5.3 percent in 2014 and then 5.8 percent in 2015 and 2016.
Mobile is now the main driver of global ad spend growth, according to Zenith Optimedia. The firm forecasts that mobile will contribute 36 percent of all the extra ad spend between 2013 and 2016.
The bigger winners as the trend toward mobile and social continues will be for those who understand mobile.
In particular, publishers and ad networks will benefit as premium content gains.
“Those who will marginalize will be the ones who look at advertising as a big blob – and, attempt to push their message out without regard for the platform and how consumers engage with mobile differently," said Louis Gump, CEO of LSN Mobile, Atlanta.
“Social media is a visible factor, however, publishers and ad networks stand the most to gain relative to their current position, as they begin to deliver premium content and quality that will change their business fundamentally,” he said.
However, agencies that have a strong mobile focus will also benefit as their existing big brand clients increase their budgets.
“The majority of the increase in spend will come from existing big brands that have an established budget with one or more agencies,” said Mr. Gump said.
“As budgets grow, existing budgets or incremental budgets will shift within in the agency to other channels, but by and large it’s going to come from agencies that are thinking cross-channely with a mobile focus,” he said.
To be prepared for the skyrocketing growth in mobile and social ad spend, agencies need to understand how mobile is different than the desktop Web and explore ad formats that are best suited for these users.
So far, the results have been mixed from agencies in terms of taking the necessary steps.
“They need to understand that while existing mobile ad units, both display and video, are actually quite powerful today, there are new formats they should be exploring,” Mr. Gump said. “In addition to contextual and native options, they should be considering 300 x 250 display formats and five to seven-second pre-roll.
“In terms of taking the necessarily steps, they are obviously on the way, but with mixed results,” he said. “Some agencies are aware and progressive, but they need to make sure organizational structures don’t get in the way of superior mobile delivery capabilities – and practically every one of them can improve in that regard."
Also likely to benefit as mobile and social ad spend grows are ad brokers, who have done a better job than agencies of adapting to the need for real-time data in driving mobile and social ad strategies.
“The ad agencies need to adopt real time or near real time business intelligence if they capture a larger share of the mobile digital media spend in particular," said Bob Egan, CEO and founder of Sepharim Group.
"That business intelligence capability is probably a mandate for them across all digital media channels as well," he said. "The brokers have beat them to the punch.”
Mobile-based ad insertions were up 85 percent in 2013 for a total of $16 billion, and representing 14 percent of global digital advertising revenues, per Magna Global.
Mobile search generated at least $8.6 billion of spend in 2013, or 14 percent of total paid search, up from 9 percent in 2012. The spend on mobile paid search is forecasted to reach 17 percent in 2014.
Programmatic buying is quickly catching on with advertisers, also helping to drive digital media’s growth. Much of this growth is taking place in the United States, where the spend on real-time bidding was up 60 percent for a total of $3.9 billion. Overall, the spend on programmatic trading in the U.S. totaled $7.4 billion.
The spend on television is also expected to grow and will be up 7.7 percent next year, according to Magna Global. Out of home is another area of growth.
However, newspapers and magazines will continue to lose advertising revenues.
One of the challenges everyone will face as mobile and social continue to grow is tracking users across devices.
“A lot of people are investing a lot of money to figure this out,” Maxxcom Global Media’s Mr. Lowenthal said. “Universal log ins are one way companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon are solving of that, but since users don't spend 100 percent of their time on any one of those platforms, there's still a lot of usage that's not being tracked.”
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York
Related content: Advertising, mobile advertising, mobile social ad spend, Magna Global, Zenith Optimedia, Maxxcom Global Media, Barry Lowenthal, LSN Mobile, Louis Gump, Sepharim Group, Bob Egan, mobile marketing, mobile
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