The acceleration of digital transformation during Covid pandemic has seen marketers reach for their mobile phones to target consumers, and, with lockdown triggering huge growth in m-commerce and social media, mobile budgets will reach $230bn (£163bn) globally in 2021.
And, with worldwide spend forecast to reach $657bn (£466bn) this year, it means mobile will represent more than a third of total global advertising budgets.
So says the WARC State of the Industry 2021: Mobile Marketing in EMEA, the research company’s annual report in association with MMA EMEA, designed to provide a snapshot into how brands, agencies, media owners and tech vendors see the impact of mobile.
The report, based on an online survey of 575 marketing professionals – a mix of client-side, agency, media owner and technology vendor marketers – carried out in over 30 markets examines mobile’s use as a tool for advertising effectively, as well as opportunities and concerns.
It reveals that the majority of marketing professionals are expecting growth in their mobile budgets, in a post-Covid world. In the 2020 survey, two in five (39%) were expecting an rise in mobile spend; this year, two in three (66%) say the same, indicating more confidence in both market conditions and in mobile as a channel.
This increase is being driven by both the rise of social and m-commerce. Nearly nine in ten (87%) respondents are using social in their mobile marketing strategy and, on average, a third of the mobile budget goes toward social. YouTube and Facebook are the platforms most used for display marketing.
Meanwhile, over two-thirds (68%) of respondents are seeing increased m-commerce capabilities and two in five (42%) say uptake of m-commerce is one of the most important consumer behaviours to have emerged from the pandemic.
However, mobile marketing also needs to overcome privacy concerns to realise growth potential.
As we approach the end of the third party cookie as a means to target and measure, marketing professionals are facing more pressure. Three in five predict they will be affected by the death of the cookie.
One in three marketing professionals say consumer concerns about privacy are a barrier to growth, a strong increase of 10 percentage points from last year.
Privacy requirements such as GDPR, a new option in 2021, enters the list as the second biggest barrier (34%). It is clear the increased focus around privacy is being felt by marketers.
In 2020, metrics and measurement were the biggest barriers to growth, but this has dropped to third in the last year, suggesting that privacy is clearly front of mind for marketers, WARC says. Fragmentation (21%) and ad fraud (20%) have also notably decreased from 2020.
Moving forward, the report suggests that the future of mobile technology seeks to connect the online and offline, particularly through AI and machine learning, IoT and voice.
Respondents are investing significant portions of their budgets into mobile technology to ensure they keep up with the latest innovations in the industry, especially as interest in AI grows.
WARC managing editor of research and rankings Amy Rodgers said: “As we emerge from the pandemic, with many workforces still working remotely and social and m-commerce technologies rapidly developing, mobile will play an important part in marketing strategies, as indicated by the acceleration of mobile ad budgets and the opportunities provided to advertisers as outlined in this report.
MMA managing director EMEA Chris Babayode added: “Whilst we have, unsurprisingly, seen an increase in mobile budgets across the region in the last year, we have also taken a broader sounding on the future of marketing from marketers. One of their key insights is that digital transformations (which include mobile by definition) have accelerated significantly.
“Getting stuff done took weeks not months. This trend is all set to continue, and we expect this to feed through as per the findings in our annual report across social, m-commerce, organisational structures, data and privacy governance.”
According to a Magna Mediabrands forecast, global advertising spend will rise 14% this year, the equivalent of an additional $78bn (£55bn) in spending for 2021, lifting the year total to $657bn (£466bn).
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