Mobile Marketing Trends 2016

The year is coming to an end and for mobile marketers it’s been both an exciting and tumultuous one. Whilst mobile ad spend is forecast to top $100bn in spending in 2016, the sudden rise of ad blockers have given many in the industry a reason to worry. One thing is for sure, mobile devices have become a more integral part of our lives and new advancements in technology continue to drive this connection. But we have also become more demanding of our experiences and the ad industry is finally taking note.

1. Ad blocking

With the release of Apple’s iOS 9 earlier this year, ad blocking has become a much discussed topic. There’s a simple reason why people block ads – to avoid being interrupted and annoyed. UK adoption of ad blockers has grown from 15% to 18% between June and October 2015. Most publishers now consider it the most significant threat to their business (65%), followed by ad fraud (35%).

Ad blockers are considered a strong threat to UK publishers



For 2016, we expect the debate to continue and more marketers and publishers to take action. Whilst mobile apps are not yet affected and in-app ads can’t be blocked (which is likely to give them a big push next year), publishers will begin to deny users content on their web pages when blockers are engaged. This tactic is already being tested by The Washington Post and more recently Yahoo has stepped in to stop ad block users from viewing their emails.

2. Targeting, viewability and measurement

Most mobile marketing platforms now provide some form of targeting and measuring of ad campaigns. Targeting the right users at the right time (by location, gender, age, in-store visits etc) is already proving a valuable strategy to reach consumers. According to Local Search Association research, geo-fencing and geo-targeting resulted in a boost of CTR performance twice the industry average.

Geo-target mobile display ads performed twice the industry average

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Reaching the right consumer at the right time ultimately gives campaigns a greater chance of being seen. We expect data-driven ads to cater not only to a user’s previous browser history, but also their moods in the future. Marketers are likely to begin building their own data programmes to collect consumer information for enhanced targeting. Beacon technology that, e.g. allows retailers to target nearby shoppers on mobile devices is already being trialled. Sending relevant deals and offers to consumers at the right time is likely to drive future purchases on the high street.

Mobile ad viewability received a lift this year. Companies such as InMobi have been pushing into the space to launch their 100% viewability products, guaranteeing that ads would be seen by consumers. Research from Sizmek earlier this year found that viewability rates on mobile where higher than those on desktops across HTML5 banners, flash banners and HTML5 rich media.

Viewability is higher on mobile devices

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However, mobile ad measurement remains one of the biggest challenges for 2016 since ad technologies are still fairly new and measurement rules aren’t clearly defined. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has finalised a set of standard rules in its Mobile Web Advertising Measurement Guidelines to offer some uniformity, but the broadening range of mobile devices and wearables make attempts to track and target users harder.

Pete Christothoulou, Chief executive, Marchex, says:

pete christithoulou

“As mobile advertising budgets continue to grow, we’re seeing brands and agencies demand more accountability. These results confirm that effective measurement and attribution of mobile advertising is a major challenge, and we anticipate growing demand for analytics solutions that can connect mobile behavior to real-world, offline actions.”

3. Programmatic

UK programmatic display is being heavily influenced by mobile. This year, mobile programmatic display ad spend amounted to £1bn and is predicted to reach £1.4bn in 2016.

Mobile programmatic ad spend continues to climb



Lauren Fisher, Analyst, eMarketer, explains that for 2016, mobile apps will have to become part of a wider programmatic ecosystem. She says:

lauren fisher

“With programmatic, we’ve done well with everything that’s cookie-driven — but you get to apps, and there’s still a breakdown in reconciling those identities.  From a cross-device and programmatic perspective, it’s extremely messy when [a brand] wants to take an audience-based approach and reach someone where they are. This has had an effect on cross-device and attribution. With the amount of time spent in-app and money moving to mobile, advertisers can’t sit on the sidelines doing this as an isolated process. They have to track the issue on mobile apps and the mobile Web, know who the audiences are and measure them. We will see continued improvements there, and more of a push to tie mobile app inventory into the broader programmatic ecosystem. We will see more of a desire for cross-device attribution among major DSPs and SSPs.”

4. Mobile video

Undoubtedly, mobile video has had a good year. According to the Ooyala Video Index Q3 2015, mobile device video plays have risen 616% since 2012, from 6.3% to 45.1%. Notably, smartphones are driving the growth with 88% of all views compared to 12% of views coming from tablets.

Mobile video views are growing fast



In addition, ad impressions for video views were strong on mobile devices covering almost half of impressions (46%) across broadcasters, publishers and networks.

Marketers rushed into the mobile space for video impressions



Given the trend to purchase smartphones with larger displays, mobile video is likely to continue a strong trajectory. Jonathan Wilner, VP of product and strategy, Ooyala, says:


“Leading into 2016, it’s abundantly clear that video – both delivery and advertising – is scaling massively across all screens. For premium content providers the major opportunity today is getting smarter about their video strategy. Video providers need to know to leverage timely events, tap into new advertising technology, understand how their audience is engaging with content and optimize their video business accordingly to maximize returns.”

5. Content and consumer experience

Brands are already turning to influential YouTubers, vloggers and Instagrammers to get help to promote their products. No longer are numbers of views a measure of success. True engagement ultimately means ROI, sales and consumers more closely aligning themselves with a brand by downloading branded apps or sharing sites on social media. The individual consumer is now more important than ever before. This year, marketers have begun to closely consider the whole consumer journey and experience.

With mCommerce on the rise, businesses are having to optimise their websites to fit mobile screens whilst simultaneously making the checkout process as simple as possible. Personalised mobile offers are also a great way to drive sales. According to a report from IAB, half of US adults already use their smartphones to compare prices online with 53% of them buying online compared to 49% purchasing the goods in-store.

Price comparison on mobile phones



Creative and engaging content has long proven to be a valuable way to entice users to download apps or check out products. This remains unchanged for the future.