The latest Internet Access Study from technology research and strategy organisation World Wide Worx shows that 60% of cellphone users in urban areas access the internet through their phones. This should be a boon for the local market, but the question is how to capture this massive audience in such a way that it will generate a return for brands.
Applications (apps) have been the rage for mobile advertising, especially when it comes to the higher income bracket.
International trends have shown that that this is the space to crack. High smartphone prices locally have shut out most of the market from accessing snazzy apps which question the value of these here.
Nic Haralambous of mobile start-up Motribe feels that the mobile web is where the focus should be. Speaking at The Digital Edge Live conference, he said there are too many apps flooding the market which don't add any long-term value. They may be fun and even addictive, but he questioned their purpose.
When it comes to value, social network apps such as MiXit and Facebook have proven their worth. Users outnumber those browsing the web via their cellphones, according to the study.
Less than half of those who can use the internet with their phones actually do so. Arthur Goldstuck of World Wide Worx puts this down partly to low browsing quality of cheaper handsets.
Hitting the sweet spot
Apps or mobile, the focus seems largely based at the top end of the market. Justin Spratt, head of Digital Strategy at Cambrient, a digital marketing services and technology company, feels the industry has hit the sweet spot with this demographic. Also at the conference, he continued that the lower end of the pyramid still has to be addressed, and mobile web is the way to do it.
Angus Robinson, founder of Brandsh, a mobile and social media agency, argued that the future lies in both apps and mobile web, and that it is more informed by the brand or consumer's needs. He added that mobile was best used for branding or driving engagement.
"I don’t see how much brand awareness can happen," challenged Pratt. However, he added that it might succeed in a brand building role if it directed users to other engagement models.
Robinson explained that mobile could be used as a remote to direct consumers to other space, whether billboards or TV.
Mobile can also be best used as anchor to drive ongoing engagement, rather than just as part of a campaign. Free offers and discounts remain great tools to attract users, especially in the lower segments. However, developing the interest into a relationship remains a challenge.