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Insight: Mobile remains the fastest growing channel amid the pandemic

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM — Mobile budgets are being impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, but mobile remains the fastest growing channel, with nearly all marketing professionals (94%) considering mobile advertising as effective.

These are some of the findings included in the State of the Industry: Mobile Marketing in EMEA 2020, an annual report released recently, providing a current snapshot into how brands, agencies, media owners and tech vendors see the impact of mobile — its use as a tool for advertising effectively, as well as opportunities and concerns, particularly following the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report is based on a survey of 596 marketing professionals across 26 markets in EMEA, carried out in April and May 2020 by WARC, the global authority on marketing effectiveness, on behalf of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), the world’s leading global non-profit trade association.


The report highlights the following key insights in EMEA:

  • Mobile budgets are impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, but mobile remains the fastest growing channel

Half (49%) of marketing professionals, up from 40% in 2019, are allocating more than 25% of their budget to mobile. WARC adspend data show it is the fastest growing media and the biggest driver of internet growth.

However, COVID-19 has inevitably had an impact on budgets. Prior to the outbreak, 66% were expecting their mobile budgets to rise over the next year. Now, only 39% feel the same.

  • Mobile video will be key for 2020 and beyond

On average, 50% of mobile budgets are being allocated to mobile video, which will be a key focus for the largest proportion of marketing professionals.

The growth in consumption of mobile video is seen by respondents as the most significant consumer behaviour impacting marketing for 2020. The rise of apps like TikTok and Quibi will be substantial over the next 12 months.

  • Marketers are creating mobile-specific content to drive engagement

Three quarters of respondents are considering ad length and design when creating content for mobile, and the growth of e-commerce has driven developments in mobile-based branded content and shoppable ads.

Advertising via mobile gaming is also expected to grow as 5G advances present a leap in performance.

By 2025, 48% of marketing professionals expect mobile-based branded content to be their main focus.

  • Programmatic trade drives mobile display advertising strength

Mobile display advertising is used in a quarter of campaigns and is the biggest 2020 focus for 47% of marketing professionals.

These results reflect the growth in mobile display advertising that has been fuelled by the boom in programmatic trade. Paid search and mobile display now account for almost all of the global mobile ad investment, and respondents to this survey said they were using mobile display in a quarter of all their campaigns.

  • Nearly all marketers (94%) see mobile devices as effective

Overall, mobile marketing has consistently been seen as effective over the past five years, with the increasing investment in the channel reflecting this confidence.

And though the COVID-19 outbreak has reduced budgets, the initial signs are that mobile advertising has been less affected than desktop advertising, with marketers seeing higher levels of effectiveness on mobile due to increasing usage.

73% of respondents use engagement metrics to measure mobile effectiveness.

Summing up, Amy Rodgers, Managing Editor Research & Rankings, WARC, said: “The findings of this year’s survey reveal that despite reduced budgets bought on by COVID-19, mobile marketing remains the fastest growing channel providing opportunities, such as mobile video, e-commerce and gaming, for brands to effectively engage with consumers.”

Chris Babayode, Managing Director, MMA EMEA, commented: “This is our fifth year in publishing this report that is designed to give comprehensive insights and guidance for marketers, agencies, and media owners alike with data to benchmark their clients and peers, gain guidance on marketing and mobile trends, and identify future challenges and opportunities, especially based on this most unusual year.”

The full report is available to WARC subscribers and MMA members. Similar reports will be released shortly for APAC and later in the year for the UK, Turkey, Spain, South Africa and MENA.

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