Wikipedia describes Mobile Content as meaning “any type of electronic media which is viewed or used on mobile phones, like ringtones, graphics, discount offers, games, movies, and GPS navigation.”
The advent of the smartphone 10 years ago fundamentally changed mobile content. Suddenly, everything that could be viewed – or was optimised for a mobile – is mobile content. Our appetite for mobile content is best typified by the amount of time we spend in apps like Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp, WeChat and others that are designed to keep us in them. Today, content is mobile.
Every year new technology and consumer trends herald the next wave of growth, and 2017 is no different. With many predicting that AI chatbots will begin to kill off apps and investment pouring into new areas such as VR and AR, is this a reality for the industry or just a fantasy of the media?
We polled 133 mobile industry professionals from around the world to find out and where they think the mobile content industry is heading, and where they plan to invest their money in 2017. Questions cover investment, not just in product development and platforms but also marketing. All 133 respondents replied via an online survey and are members of the Mobile Content Group on Linkedin.
The Importance of Future Platforms and Technologies
In terms of priorities for 2017, mobile phones (including smartphones) remain the highest priority. This is closely followed by tablet devices and IoT. Despite the huge amount of media interest that Amazon’s Echo has received over the past year, the survey highlighted that, among those surveyed, it was the lowest priority. With Echo now more widely available, we had expected this may have been higher.
When delving further into the reasons behind this, we find 75% of respondents said Echo was either not at all, or not very important for their business in 2017. Conversely, 75% said mobile was important. This could be largely down to the install base.
A Business Insider report from June 2016 estimated that Amazon had sold 1.7 million Echo’s in North America since 2014. While this may have increased following its launch in the UK and other markets, Echo is a hyped device with a limited install base. Mobile, meanwhile has an install base of close to five billion, globally – with almost half, or 2.5 billion, of this install base being made up of smartphones.
Outside of this, VR is now seen as important as SmartTVs, indicating growing interest in VR as a medium. This is likely attributed to Samsung’s GearVR efforts and the introduction of Daydream by Google that will make VR on mobile devices much easier.
If we delve deeper into the data, the single largest area of importance to respondents with regards to growing 2017 mobile content revenues was an increase in 4G coverage followed by cheaper/more affordable handsets. Despite the mass adoption of 5G being some way off, respondents still rated it as their most important technology. It is interesting to note that wearable technology remains a low priority for respondents in terms of 2017 revenues with the Internet of Things showing a higher degree of importance.
Willingness to Invest in future platforms
Unsurprisingly, mobile overwhelmingly remains the largest area for increased investment for mobile content in 2017 with over 79% of respondents saying they would invest the same or more in mobile and 74% for tablet. VR continues its drive as a significant new technology for the industry, showing strong investment in 2017 with 31% of those who responded saying that they would invest more in 2017. It is interesting to note that 19% of those who responded stated that they would be investing less in wearable technology in 2017.
Product Marketing Trends
As can be seen from the chart, unpaid social media, social media, mobile advertising and content marketing emerge as the top marketing channels that will receive the highest level of investment for marketing mobile content in 2017. It is interesting to note the rise of more organic channels designed to boost search engine discovery (likely via Google) as reflected in the desire to invest more in content marketing and SEO skills. Unsurprisingly, more traditional ‘analogue’ brand-building channels such as TV, radio and print remain low on spending priorities.
With regards to mobile content marketing, one can see that the highest proportion of people who answered ‘Very Likely’ fell with mobile advertising as well as unpaid social media campaigns.
The future of messaging platforms & bots
Much has been spoken about the rise of AI-driven messenger bots in 2016 especially with regards to integration with messenger services. For many in the media, messenger platforms are heralded as the next big mobile content marketing channel.
Looking at the survey results, just over 30% of respondents indicated that they would be undertaking some kind of product integration with messaging platforms in 2017. As can be seen from the chart below, Facebook Messenger remains the platform that will receive the highest level of integration. Integrations in the ‘Other’ category included amongst others, Slack and BBM.
About the respondents
Respondents were asked a series of questions to ascertain their own position as well as company size.
Mobile content encompasses an incredible range of services and industry sectors. What is clear is that all the stakeholders involved share common problems- that of knowing where to wisely invest their money in terms of product development and marketing.
What this survey has shown is that many companies are indeed investing in the next wave of technologies such as messenger chatbot platforms, VR and the Internet of Things; taking such things from being a fantasy to grounded in commercial reality. As much as these investments signal a belief in a platform or technology, it will be interesting to see how other ‘hot’ areas such as wearable technology will fare in the coming months with respondents having demonstrated a lukewarm view.
Results of the marketing survey have also shown a maturity in the approach to marketing with respondents showing a willingness to embrace a wider mix of channels. Whereas paid for mobile content advertising still retains a dominant position, ‘owned’ channels such as content marketing and social media activity are being seen by respondents as serious areas of focus. The power of content marketing and driving inbound traffic through SEO, thereby ‘earning’ trust is becoming more and more important
2017 will be no different from any other year in the mobile content industry. For many years now, companies have been challenged with knowing when to jump on board with the ‘next big thing’, and it is clear that the challenge now remains as great as it ever was. While many new platforms and technologies are yet to prove themselves, this survey at least provides the industry with a reality check, helping to separate the fantasy from the reality and give a clear marker as to where things are heading.