Dr KF Lai, BuzzCity founder and CEO (pic) outlined current mobile themes:
1. Mobile shopping doesn't just outpace desktop.
2014 saw a new wave of connected consumers in Malaysia and across South East Asia - armed with smartphones and tablets, they shopped with a new set of priorities and shopping methods. Empowered with information, their Internet devices gave them access to variety that they demand.
Consumers are increasingly empowered by technology and use every channel available to make more informed choices at their own convenience. Retailers must note that the end sale is no longer either in-store or online, but a combination of both experiences in the customer buying process. Offering another sales platform to reach the customer both in-store and online complements the in-store channel rather than threatens it. By April 2014 at least 78 percent of Malaysian shoppers claimed to shop online (59 percent Thailand, 67 percent Singapore, 72 percent Indonesia) and nearly half (40 percent) shopped with their mobiles.
The problem is, while many retailers realise that mobile is a key factor, they're not quite sure how to use it effectively - interest is strong but effective execution is lagging. Mobile hasn't just extended online shopping, but has become central to the whole shopping experience.
In brief, it would be beneficial for retailers to start investing in a mobile presence as it would increase customer engagement in 2015.
2. Growth in mobile ad spend, but...
The rise of the connected shopper also saw the increase in ad spends on mobile. Across South East Asia e-commerce players increased their promotional activities. Although most of this is spent on traditional advertising, more are beginning to spend on mobile advertising. In fact the number of paid ads we served in South East Asia practically double over the last year and South East Asia now makes up 30 percent of the global ads we serve.
But this last year also saw a gentle decline of advertising by mobile Value Added Services particularly for mobile content and games. For years now, mobile advertising was driven by the promotions of mobile content but despite numerous administrative reforms (based on consumer complaints about misleading practices, unfair pricing, inappropriate content and illegal behaviour) the fragility of the ecosystem remains and Telcos as key enablers of the service remain the de facto manager of value-added service providers - directly controlling their survival. The Telco's billing processes remain an issue for VAS player which in turn stifles the development and distribution of mobile content to the consumers.
In Malaysia, these issues will re-surface as Government budgets are deployed to support the development of digital content to support the nation's creative industries.
3. The power of mobile + video = Branded Content
Mobile marketing is being rethought in the broader context of overall customer experience. Thanks to mobile, media consumption has changed and led many companies to adapt again, this time becoming the producers and sponsors of their own content.
Engaging with consumers through content creation is a growing opportunity for marketers and the creative industries. We expect this to generate close partnerships with established publishers as a cost-effective way of content creation for brands and marketers.
If there is a threat to mobile advertising it will be advertisers' indifference to the changes in consumer behaviour and their demands of media. Advertisers can no longer afford to work digital channels as independent media but as an integrated digital approach across devices.
The digital advertising ecosystem is rapidly evolving these days, as marketers continue to adapt to new platforms, devices, and ad formats. Advertisers will not just measure performance but more will develop engagement metrics relevant to their service. Advertisers will look beyond banner advertising to other rich media and video formats to deliver their message. Companies like BuzzCity will evolve its current offering to include these new formats; through in-house development or acquisitions.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.