It’s that time of year again…
Holiday campaigns are in full swing. Financial planning for 2016 is underway. Now comes the inevitable review of what drove the industry forward this year, and, of course, the predictions on how things will be different next year.
We’ve taken a year’s worth of insights from across our network of more than a billion mobile users worldwide, mixed it with some sharp commentary from sales, product development – and our new CEO Will Kassoy – then distilled it into short, snackable highlights. No need for lengthy exposition here — let’s get right into the five things you need to think about for mobile in 2016:
1) All video, all the time
If there’s just one trend to point to in 2015, it’s the non-stop growth in mobile video. Driven by consumption across operating systems, carriers and countries, the video onslaught gave advertisers new ways to connect with users and boosted publishers’ revenues. Expect more of the same next year, with a nod to exclusive, new video formats:
(Will Kassoy, CEO): Mobile video is a natural complement to more “traditional” marketing efforts like TV for brand advertisers — and those are the companies that will drive the most growth in mobile video next year.
(Nikao Yang, SVP of Business Development & Marketing): It’s still in the early innings, but native video ads are gaining momentum, largely due to the heavy weight of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. In 2016, we’ll see increased adoption of these native video formats amongst premium publishers and advertisers.
(Vikas Gulati, Managing Director, Asia): Mobile is now the first screen, surpassing both the TV and the desktop in terms of time spent — and video became the mobile ad unit of choice for both brand and performance marketers Video will continue to explode. In fact, consumption and spending will get bigger than anyone can even imagine.
2) Mobile apps lead — the mobile web follows
In case you forgot, the amount of time people in the U.S. spend on mobile devices — and specifically, in mobile apps — is now greater than the amount of time spent watching TV. 2015 is the year that mobile apps took the lead vs. the mobile web, and the implications for next year are huge:
(Larry Moores, VP, Consumer Mobile Analytics & Reporting): The trend of mobile apps getting more traffic than standard browsing on the mobile web will accelerate. There are too many websites that still don’t perform well on mobile devices — and advertising integrations are a major part of the problem.
(VG): Think about how virtual assistants like Google Now, Cortana, M and Siri are all directly accessing app content without opening the apps. I think we’ll see even more creative and deep integrations of in-app content moving forward.
(NY): Given the ability to leverage both the software and hardware of a device, mobile apps have richer ad formats and superior ad experiences than the mobile web. Mobile web inventory is also susceptible to ad blocking — so if mobile ad-blocking takes off, publishers will be forced to focus more on making better content and ad experiences for their in-app inventory.
3) Regulations, restrictions and customer reactions
Ad-blocking took center stage this year — and for good reason, because the entire content and advertising ecosystem could potentially be at stake. At the very least, the ultimate consumer pushback against intrusive ads is a wake-up call, one we can expect advertisers, publishers and even industry regulators around the world to heed. We can also expect some government scrutiny around ad quality, data usage and whether the U.S. is unfairly dominating the mobile ad market:
(Jon Williams, Marketing Director, EMEA): Consumers and advertisers are demanding less disruption and more relevancy, and Adland needs to pay attention. If we do not treat ad-blocking as an opportunity then there will be only losers, non-more so than the publisher community who will no longer be able to provide “free” news and journalism. We’ll have to see if the industry can come together to better inform consumers on the practices and impact of ad blockers on the economy of the Internet.
(WK): I believe the need for ad-blocking goes away if companies focus on delivering a high quality user experience. So I expect to see brands, agencies, industry trade groups and first parties like Apple and Google continue to focus on holding the industry to the highest standards.
(VG): I think we’ll see an increased push for transparency in everything — not only in terms of the quality of media that’s being bought, but also around data. I think companies will need to be far more explicit about how they’re using consumer data.
(LM): This is a bigger threat to desktop than mobile — but content companies will start blocking access to users if they detect ad-blocking tools. But an even more pervasive challenge next year will be the EU attempting to exert more control over the mobile market — and counter dominance by U.S. companies — using privacy legislation as the key weapon. More regions will try to jump on the EU bandwagon and use regulation in an attempt to force companies into building infrastructure within regional markets.
4) It’s not brand or performance — it’s brand AND performance
The distinction between “brand” and “performance” advertising strategies is slowly becoming harder to detect — and this is especially true when it comes to mobile. In 2016, we’ll see the lines between these two ad disciplines continue to blur:
(Bryan Buskas, SVP of Sales, Performance Advertising): This year we saw companies like SuperCell, MachineZone and Eat24 run ads in the Superbowl. These are some of the largest and most savvy mobile app developers in the world when it comes to user acquisition – and they chose to invest one of the most traditional ad platforms. It shows that mobile performance advertisers are expanding off-platform to channels like TV and OOH (out-of-home) to accelerate their success, and I expect this trend to continue and grow in 2016.
(JW): The hybrid area of “brand performance” represents the most interesting opportunity in 2016. Brands will adopt performance advertising tactics in search of performance-style metrics – think app installs and increased spend per user – but they’ll target more “brand-friendly” mobile inventory to get it.
(VG): The performance business in mobile is rapidly evolving, and next year the biggest shift will be that developers focus less on just driving installs, and more on finding and targeting quality users. Similarly, I think more mobile branding campaigns will incorporate some sort of direct response element. Brand performance will become mainstream.
5) New formats, new pastimes, new tools
And what would a look ahead be without predictions for the new tools, tactics and devices that will dominate mobile in 2016? Connected devices, smarter artificial “intelligence” and seamless mobile payments are all on the horizon:
(VG): Mobile payments will become mainstream. And we’ll also see an emergence of new players when it comes to audience data; expect a wealth of data from telcos, banks, commerce and retail providers to get consolidated on a common platform to create actionable mobile audiences next year.
(WK): Next year we’ll see mainstream adoption of the connected “everything” – that includes wearables, cars and other everyday devices. It’s far more than just smartphones.
(JW): In the U.S., we’ll see beacon deployments go from experimental to mainstream. In the APAC market, smartphones will cross the chasm and begin to significantly outnumber feature phones. We’re already seeing mobile roaming charges disappear in Europe – driving stronger growth in mobile data services. Overall, mobile will provide the best measurement and attribution for advertising across all screens.
That’s the Opera Mediaworks year-end wrap-up and rundown of the five trends that will dominate mobile in 2016. We crunched the numbers, sifted through the headlines and went out on a few limbs with our own predictions. Now it’s time to hear yours. Share your thoughts with us on why you see coming down the pipe next year in the comments.
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