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« Fascinating, Captain, fascinating.. as Spock might say of the smartphone today | Main | The battle for America's soul - Palin vs. Obama »

September 23, 2008


Alan Moore

Tomi I was asked at Mobile Monday, which country leads the world in Mobile advertising.

Sadly I could not answer - is it Japan, Korea or elsewhere...?

Perhaps you could advise and also give a perspective perhaps in a separate post how and when this is going to go mainstream or perhaps a better way to explain it part of the media ecology as an everyday event.

Interesting, I also think that until we have metrics and an understanding about what is exactly mobile advertising - media, publishers and advertisers are going to struggle.

My analogy that previous ad formats (display) are the furniture of advertising is an apt one, and inappropriate to mobile or indeed the fixed internet.

Who wants old furniture in your house when yu can get something that perfoms much better unless you are into nostalgia?


Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Alan

Great question, and yeah, Japan and South Korea are up there. I would put Japan the most advanced mobile advertising market, and the one which is most mature, ie the advertising industry knows mobile best.

South Korea is very advanced too. Surprisingly strong is India (where they invented the mobile advergame). Spain is Europe's most advanced mobile advertising market. But UK is also one of the European leaders.

I'll do a blog about shifts to mainstream, obviously we're seeing those but its slow going, as the internet eco-system desperately needs advertising to survive, and the "draw" in young creative advertising talent is more to the internet side. In the mobile services industry, essentially all mobile service categories (far larger than those on the internet) are all fully self-funded by customers paying content revenues, so the innovation is more on advanced services, than specific ad innovations. Thus we still see the "furniture" borrowed from the internet, banner ads, spam SMS text messages etc - in mobile, rather than a lot of innovation. Total mobile advertising was only 2.2 billion dollars worth last year (one half of one percent of all advertising dollars spent globally). Internet advertising is far larger.

This will change, as advertisers learn more about mobile and its particular strengths.

Tomi :-)

Dean Bubley

Hi Tomi

Som fascinating stats - I didn't realise the MMS user figure was that high. Any idea of regularity of use? (How many people are regular users, eg 5+ per month?)

Although I'd pick you up on this one though:
"out of 1.3 billion internet users, there are only 950 million personal computers (desktop and laptops combined) in use. So we already have a discrepancy of 350 million who access the internet without a PC. Most of those will be accessing via mobile"

...actually, most of that discrepancy will be using a shared PC, at home / school / Internet cafe.

In China, for example, according to CNNIC, the average home PC connected to the Internet has 2.7 users. And the number of individual Chinese Internet users is now growing faster than mobile users when you correct for multiple SIM ownership.

For this reason I'd also disagree with the notion that emerging-market users will choose smartphones as a "sole device". More probable is that family members will get cheap low-cost handsets, plus a cheap shared family PC. Buying 4 * $150 smartphones for a family - with 2 year lifespans at best - is much more costly than 4 x $30 ULC phones and a single $300 PC with a 4-5 year life.



Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Dean

I figured that posting might get you to visit us again and post your thoughts, ha-ha.. Not surprised..

MMS - yeah, the numbers are staggering, about 48% of Asians are already active users. But - all recent numbers I've seen, suggest MMS is only about 1% of total mobile messaging trafic - so the volumes used are nowhere near those of SMS. The average mobile phone subscriber sends 2.8 SMS per day. The average subscribers sends perhaps 1 MMS per MONTH..

To find even that reasonable, but quite modest usage level you suggest - 5 MMS per month - I'm sure that user base is somewhere near 100 million people or so. The usual criterion for MMS "active user" is one MMS sent per month..

But three important things. MMS requires a compatible handset and compatible network connection; ie MMS cameraphone and at least GPRS (ie 2.5G) network or faster. That was zero in 2001. Even as MMS usage level is very modest compared to SMS, the growth in MMS users has been astronomical this decade.

Secondly, if SMS total traffic in 2007 was 1.9 Trillion messages, and MMS is 1% of SMS, then the global total of MMS picture messages sent last year was 19 billion. That is no small number. Even across the global mobile phone subscriber base, it is 6.3 MMS per subscriber per year, or half an MMS per person per month. Or per active user, it is 1.58 MMS sent per active user per month.

Thirdly, we are now seeing the emergence of MMS as a viable advertising and marketing platform, which will very likely dramatically increase MMS usage. Similar to how American Idol/Pop Idol and other reality TV shows have expanded the SMS text messaging use, teaching non-users to vote with SMS, I do think that new mobile advertising built on MMS will help teach many non-users to use the MMS ability of their phones. I've reported here at our blog for example of Blyk using MMS messaging to do engagement marketing, as well as for example just now the BMW campaign for winter tyres. Little bits and small target niche segments, but this adds to total MMS traffic, and also helps teach users to get onboard..

Oh, the PC user numbers. Yes, we do have multiple users especially in the Developing World, per PC. Note the opposite is also true, professional people like you and me, often have several PCs, so a single white collar worker could have one at work, and a private PC at home, two PCs to one user. It somewhat balances out still today, where the total PC population in the developing world is so small in numbers compared to the developed world.

And running in parallel, more and more countries now report that domestically they have more internet access from mobile than PC users, which was first reported in Japan in 2005. Last year we had South Korea and India join the numbers (and briefly China, but then Chinese broadband user numbers passed mobile numbers). Now we have for example South Africa and Taiwan joining the group of these countries. And I'd guess very much of Africa and developing countries in Asia, mirror the India and South Africa pattern. Meanwhile in Southern Europe, we are at the level of 40% of all internet users accessing via mobile in many countries like Italy, Portugal, Greece etc. So am expecting the first European country to announce this cross-over point near the end of this year or soon next year.

Thanks for writing Dean.

Tomi :-)

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