Smartphone adoption a powerful marketing opportunity

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Smartphone adoption has outstripped growth in desktop usage and is now driving Internet access in SA. This trend will push mobile advertising to become mainstream as it has the highest penetration reach - making mobile the most powerful channel for customer engagement in SA.

This is according to the Mobile Report 2016, compiled by the Mobile Marketing Association for SA (MMA SA). The report found smartphone adoption and usage broke away from regular desktop in mid-2014 and continued to accelerate to almost 20 million users in July 2015; and this is expected to grow, with smartphones as the dominant device to access the Internet in SA.

The report further revealed SA is in the midst of a mobile Internet explosion, there has never been a more important time for South African businesses to focus attention on developing successful smartphone experiences to engage and delight their customers.

Nicolle Harding, chair of Research and Measurement for MMA SA and Country manager at Effective Measure South Africa, says the power of mobile is not just in its ability to reach and influence consumers, but mobile gives an entirely new dimension to people's experiences and enables marketers to achieve new levels of continuous customer touch and engagement.

"The phenomenal growth in adoption that we are seeing in mobile devices presents equally pervasive opportunities for marketers, as mobile media and marketing is expected to experience a steady increase in growth in South Africa," she explains.

She adds with the Internet expected to reach 70% penetration in the next 2-3 years, there is a widespread transition of online activities that were once only accessible via computer to mobile devices.

"These activities include online chatting (96%), dating (89%), accessing social media (between 70 and 85%, depending on the platform), content downloads (between 67 and 83%, depending on the content), gaming (78%) and banking (65%)," reveals Harding.

Yaron Assabi, Chair of MMA SA and CEO of Digital Solutions Group, says mobile is the future of all media, and marketers who can get this right will see positive returns on their investments and increased value for every Rand spent within their media budgets.

"The question is no longer "why mobile?" but rather an acknowledgement that mobile will empower marketers to connect with consumers to drive awareness, advocacy and transactions on behalf of brands. In the next few years we expect that the mobile share of Internet advertising will increase substantially," he notes.

Assabi adds the personal relationship that consumers have with their mobile devices cannot be ignored.

"Nothing gets marketers closer to consumers than mobile and, even more so in a mobile-first country like SA.

"Mobile is by far the most powerful channel for customer engagement and customer insight - strategic and successful marketing campaign have to offer personalised marketing and communication," he explains.

Alan Haarhoff, CMO Always Active Technologies, says the MMA SA Mobile Report paints a beautiful picture of how mobile is embraced by South Africans.

"This data assists us all - enablers, brands and organisations - to correctly leverage the ubiquity of mobile to ensure strategic and successful execution of mobile solutions and promotions," he points out.

The report says smartphone users in SA who eagerly use the best apps and mobile Web sites the world has to offer set the bar for mobile excellence very high and they have an expectation that their favourite local companies will deliver an equally refined smartphone experience.

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