SmartphonesNielsen’s Smartphone Insights Study, conducted across 39 markets globally (including 13 Asian markets), found that smartphones now outnumber non-smartphones in many countries including Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. However, consumers are still resistant to mobile advertising with a sizeable proportion of users reporting that they hardly ever click on mobile advertisements. In Singapore for example, only 62 percent of mobile ad viewers were exposed to ads at least daily.

This figure does not take into account the number of advertisements that users were exposed to or the extent of their interaction with the ad. For marketers it is vital to figure out ways to increase response rates via mobile. How can advertisers increase click-through rates for their ads and convert clicks to sales? What can be done to ensure that advertisements are not intrusive, but instead benefit users in a substantial way, making them more likely to click on ads in the future?

Increasing engagement via the mobile channel can be tricky. With smartphones having become an essential part of our lives, people have begun to consider their smartphones to be an extension of themselves. The devices are used for a myriad of tasks from listening to music and checking email to shopping and Internet banking. Studies have shown that many people reportedly sleep with their phones at their bedsides and check their devices first thing each morning. All these factors make a person’s smartphone a very personal device and excessive advertising can easily be construed as an invasion of privacy.

Increased awareness, the changing media landscape, and better technology are all factors that have contributed to shift power into the consumer’s hands. Consumers are no longer passive recipients of advertising messages on their television screens, or in newspapers. They now have the opportunity to choose the type of advertising they see and this has led to raised expectations posing an even greater challenge for marketers.

The increasing popularity of smartphones has also led to a jump in the use of location-based services across the region. In APAC, Nielsen’s Study found that at 59 percent, Korea had the highest usage of location based services amongst smartphone users.  The mounting availability and use of location-based and location-aware services provides brands marketers the opportunity to seamlessly integrate advertising into the consumers mobile experience. Being able to identify the user’s location gives marketers the ability to deliver relevant, contextualized ads that are within easy reach for the user.

With millions of people using their mobile devices to go online, marketers can go one step further and optimize their websites for mobile viewing. This can be done by removing non-essential content, reducing the number of steps from exit to entry, and decreasing the amount of text entry required. Additionally, using different ad formats, which cater specifically to mobile devices and different screen sizes, can also contribute to smoother integration of advertisements into users’ mobile experience.

Consumers are constantly being bombarded by advertisements from multiple channels, and for mobile marketers the key to greater response rates and higher sales lies in being able to provide consumers with targeted, location-specific, and contextual advertising that is useful to the user. Brand managers should take a moment to think about how they can add value to the consumer and improve his/her mobile experience. Making an effort to stand out by being more creative, using advertisements customized to the mobile platform, and adopting a more targeted, localized approach over mass advertising, will all help to prevent consumers from coming to think of mobile advertising as just another nuisance.

By Rohit Dadwal, Managing Director, Mobile Marketing Association Asia Pacific Limited