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Top Industry Execs Make Bold Predictions for Mobile Advertising in 2016

Posted on February 19, 2016
By Shamala DN

What the future holds and how we can stay ahead is, no doubt, the most common query amongst business decision makers and entrepreneurs. It’s that time of the year when everyone is looking at predictions, but it is equally important to look back on what worked and what didn’t.

Each year, mobile advertising commands greater attention as it captures more of our day and reshapes all the critical touch points through the customer journey. According to comScore, 2015 was the year the number of mobile internet users exceeded that of desktop-only internet users, with over 54% of digital media time spent on apps. While many would have overlooked some of the importance of mobile and the opportunities it presented in 2015, it is essential for brands to look ahead, do some forward thinking and speculate on the mobile strategy they need to adopt to remain relevant.

2016 will be the year where companies will be obsessed with customer behaviour and mobile moments will be the next battlefield where companies will need to win to retain their customers. Enhancing the connection between brands and people to provide relevant customer experiences will be the focus of all major mobile marketing companies. This effort to build two-way relationships, serve relevant and personalized messages, and provide branded experiences to enhance consumers’ lives will be the most powerful developments in the mobile marketing space.

While it may be impossible to exactly predict which digital trends will take off, we at InMobi foresee a whirlwind of exiting changes in the future.

What does the mobile journey look like in 2016? To find out, we reached out to several top executives to share their outlook around mobility and consumer behaviour. We combined this expert input with insights from our own global ad platform that reaches over a billion users and have compiled these predictions for 2016.

1. Acceleration of Mobile Commerce

As per eMarketer, 1.6% of total retail sales in the U.S. occurred on smartphones in 2015. Mobile, until recently, has been seen only as an influencer in the retail funnel due to its relatively small contribution towards overall sales. However, this is going to change in 2016 as the top digital companies such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon flood the market with mobile payment solutions. As more companies strive for their share of the $800 billion worldwide market for mobile commerce, a flurry of innovations in mobile payment processing will aim towards simplifying the process. The rise of contextual commerce will further determine how and where mobile consumers conduct transactions, leading to higher customer lifetime value and increased sales conversations.

Rohit Dadwal, Managing Director, MMA, Asia Pacific Limited

“2016 is likely to be known as the year mobile commerce finally became meaningful. There seems to be no end in sight, as consumers armed with their smartphones increasingly look to discover, compare, and order/transact directly from their device. This trend, combined with the expanding number of mobile payment options and recently upgraded payment terminals to accept them, will continue to pave the way for m-commerce in the years ahead.”

2. The Rise of Programmatic Will Continue

eMarketer estimates that big brand industries such as retail, CPG and consumer products, automotive, and financial services already transact more than half of their US digital display ad spending programmatically. New ad formats, buying models, and inventory sources will further catapult programmatic buying through next year. Programmatic buying will see more rapid growth in the next few years primarily driven by mobile. Mobile will be the most programmatic ecosystem in 2016 with exciting potential for marketplaces and direct campaigns. As both advertisers and publishers seek more transparency in programmatic advertising, programmatic providers should be ready to adapt as advertisers look to those who share data and offer greater options for targeting and price optimization.

Jason Gruber, SVP Product Management & Strategy, Rubicon Project

“Programmatic buying will exceed 50% of mobile ad buys and will break out of its niche and become an established answer to marketer’s digital advertising goals this year.

Programmatic advertising shows every sign of attracting more and more dollars over the next few years. Publishers and advertisers alike continue to awaken to automated ad buying possibilities for improved efficiencies in both workflow and the use of ever-more-granular data.”

3. Virtual Reality Will Emerge

Virtual reality is undoubtedly the next big thing to look for. The launch of Google Cardboard lets Android and iPhone users sample the virtual reality experience in an easy and relatively inexpensive way. While this technology has existed for some time, the market never felt quite ready for consumerization. The New York Times has taken a leap into virtual reality with a free phone app paired with head phones and Google Cardboard to simulate richly immersive scenes from across the globe.

With a variety of different virtual reality headsets expected in 2016 and Oculus Rift being the most anticipated product, the gaming and immersive video economies will be re-written. They will introduce an entire new medium of advertising and inevitably have a huge impact on the way marketers will engage consumers.

Leo Scullin, Vice President of Industry Programs, MMA

“With virtual and augmented reality becoming more popular, we’ll start to see the effects trickle into the mobile advertising industry. We’ll begin to see the core infrastructure develop in terms of content creation, reach and tracking, personalization and performance. This will be powerful given the immersive nature of both of these formats, which will have a huge impact on mobile advertising landscape.”

4. Wearables and the Internet of Things

Wearable devices are at the heart of every discussion related to the Internet of Things (IoT). It is believed that IoT and wearables will have a widespread effect on the way we live our day-to-day lives by 2025. A flurry of smart watches and fitness trackers revealed this year, including the Apple Watch, reveals the tremendous opportunity the market holds for wearables. Wearables will continue to interact with beacons for a wide range of location-based services and with more customers coming on board, brands will be able to more accurately pinpoint customer location and deliver highly targeted messaging.

Jason Gruber, VIice President, Mobile Strategic Partnerships,Rubicon Project

Wearables will be high on consumer wish lists, and as more people receive them, brands will have an even greater opportunity to leverage smartwatch apps and new advertising formats specifically for these devices in the coming year.

5. Proximity Marketing

Over the last few years, brands and marketers have been testing and implementing location-based services to help retrieve information about the current location of their customers or prospects. With billions of consumers owning smartphones, it is no surprise that location-based proximity marketing is such a hot topic as retailers look for ways to provide more personalized real-time offers and promotions. With the rapid increase in sales of beacons and beacon-based technologies, location-based marketing services are expected to catapult in 2016 providing innovative ways for marketers to connect the digital experience with retail.

Leo Scullin – Vice President of Industry Programs, MMA

“Location is driving everything, it’s central to success for brands. In 2016 and beyond, marketers will be able to not only use that data to develop relevant, contextual, and engaging experiences for their audiences, but also use that data to predict which locations and unknown segments will be most responsive to which campaigns and programs in the future. This shift will provide a much richer, data-driven approach that puts information into action.”

6. Mobile Video

Mobile video is one of the fastest growing areas of mobile advertising. According to eMarketer, more than 107 million people in the U.S. watch mobile video at least on a monthly basis, which is nearly 14 percent higher than 2014. Studies have determined that users enjoy shorter versions of videos on their mobiles more often than longer videos and mobile is the place to be for video engagements.

Preeti Desai, Country Manager, Mobile Marketing Association (India)

“Brands have noticed that customers are changing where they watch video and the numbers are staggering and are too big to ignore. Mobile video is a natural complement to more “traditional” marketing efforts like TV for brand advertisers. Brands have also discovered that just repurposing TV ads doesn’t help help increase engagement and they many are quickly learning that vertical screens and vertical mobile video content is a big deal. Video has already become the mobile ad unit of choice for both brand and performance marketers. In fact, consumption and spending will get bigger than anyone can even imagine in fact mobile video ad spends will have a significantly stronger growth rate than mobile display or mobile search advertising in the coming years.”

7. Contextual and Relevant Ads Gains Prominence

Investments in making ads contextual and relevant will soar as brands try and overcome the increased momentum around blocking ads on mobile. Ads will need to more relevant and be less disruptive, leading brands to invest more in native and non-intrusive ad formats, aligning the ads closer to users’ needs. To enable this there will be a lot of information collected around the usage and the surrounding context to remain relevant. Native ads will continue to grow in importance and eventually most of the advertising industry will have some type of native offering, including videos as a form of content for native ads. Brands will continue to invest in content and look to scale across different placements.

Rohit Dadwal, Managing Director, MMA, Asia Pacific Limited

“Ad blockers are here to stay, and we have to make advertising a whole lot better. Making advertising meaningful and useful to consumers will help publishers get rid of ad blockers.” .

The Next Big Thing?

A whole lot of new tech is emerging to create a world of exciting possibilities. Augmented Reality is definitely a big bet along with enhanced device to device communication where smartphones are about to become nodes in the network. These trends are about to revolutionize the entire mobile ecosystem which is bound to have a direct impact on marketing.

We would appreciate your views on the trends and would be interested to know your predictions as well.