The Year of the Mobile Will Never Come


Sorry people. But the year of the mobile is never going to come. But not for the reasons you think. Let me explain, and then feel free to disagree.

Ever since I first became interested in these things, the famous and fabulous Mary Meeker has publisher her overview of the world’s internet. It’s an amazing and thorough piece of work.

In her deck (the 2016 version of which was recently released and can be found in its entire 213 page glory here – which by the way, she presents in less than 25 minutes!), is this slide:


In this slide she points with a big arrow and blue box at the difference in time spent / money spent on mobile. The message is clear: our industry is en-masse under investing in mobile. And it’s a $22Bn opportunity (just in the US).

Meanwhile, we go to conferences and wonder jokingly if it might be the year of the mobile because we are defining the year of the mobile as the year when our clients finally spend that $22bn.

Leaving aside the fact that the low cost of mobile inventory means that we are unlikely to ever get those levels of spend on mobile advertising, this argument misses the point.

And its a point that most marketers actually understand very well: mobile is not only (or even in many cases) about advertising. This does not, however, mean that it does not play a key role in marketing.

Allow me to illustrate with an example from Brazil, which won the Mobile Lion in Cannes in 2014:

I think we can all agree that this campaign is all-in on mobile. In fact this campaign idea let alone the execution would not have been possible without mobile technology.

But what was the media spend here? I don’t have the exact data on that, and would very much like someone to set the record straight if they were involved in the campaign, but I am reasonably sure that the media plan looked a bit like this:

  • Print, including magazines and flyers on the beach to distribute bracelets and app download instructions: 100% of budget
  • Mobile advertising including banners etc: 0% of budget

If we were generous we might include the app-development cost as mobile spend, in which case the above %age might be 95% / 5% if they got someone expensive to build the app.

My point is that the year of the mobile isn’t coming, because it’s been and gone. And as demonstrated by Mary’s chart, it has very little to do with mobile advertising, and everything to do with mobile marketing and engagement.

And as that does not get reflected in advertising spend, I think Mary is measuring it wrong.

Article by Caspar Schlickum, CEO, Wunderman APAC

caspar-schlickum_bw_2016About Caspar:

Caspar Schlickum is CEO of Wunderman APAC. Prior to Wunderman, Caspar was part of the founding team of WPP-owned global digital media platform Xaxis, where he served as CEO of Xaxis EMEA.

Caspar has extensive experience in digital media and audience insight-driven marketing, having spent four years at Mindshare as a global client lead, and one year within Kantar, the holding company for WPP’s research and insight businesses.

Prior to joining WPP, Caspar was Commercial Development Director at Fairfax Digital, one of Australia’s largest publishing houses. Before commencing his career in marketing, he spent six years in investment banking, based in Sydney, advising on technology, communications and infrastructure projects in the Asia Pacific region.

Caspar holds an economics degree (with first-class honors) from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and an MBA from London Business School as well as Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Caspar is frequently solicited by prestigious industry organizations to share his insights and knowledge as an awards jury member, panel moderator, panelist and a keynote speaker at the Cannes Innovation Lions, the FT Digital Media Summit in London, the Festival of Media Global in Rome and Web Summit in Dublin.

In addition, Caspar is a regular author for The Drumamong other publications, writing about key industry trends and the future of the digital industry in the programmatic space, as well as general developments in media.

Given his passion for education and learning, Caspar gives back to the community through his contributions in academic publications, such as the Journal of Digital & Social Media Management. He has been a regular guest lecturer at London Business School MBA and Executive Education programs.

Caspar’s active contributions to the technology industry have been recognized by The Drum(nominated by his peers as the winner of The Digital Leader of the Year at the Drum Digital Trading Awards in 2016) and econsultancy (shortlisted for Senior Digital Leader of the Year Award in 2015).

Source: KPCB

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