MobileFirst and the future of mobile advertising

MobileFirst is where the majority of people access the Internet for the first time via a mobile device. This lack of desktop baggage means their mobile behaviour is different to more mature markets: they are - leading the way - now disrupting mobile and changing business case across the mobile app and advertising industries. As more MobileFirst children come of age in mature markets such as the US and Europe, the behaviour of people in MobileFirst markets could be a sign of things to come for the mobile advertising industry.


MobileFirst users leapfrogged over the desktop

South East Asia has a number of good examples of MobileFirst markets. Mobile Internet penetration in Thailand was a mere 1% in 2009, and it jumped to 56% in 2013. By 2015, there was 1.4 mobiles per Thai person compared to the US with only 0.91 mobile phones per person. These users came late to the Internet party - they skipped the desktop and the clunky old Web 2.0 and accessed the Internet straight from their smart phones.


It’s all about the App

Because the Internet came later to South East Asia, most people first accessed it on a smartphone and by that stage, most activity was already inside social applications like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, so they never really relied on search engines like Google or web portals like Yahoo. MobileFirst user behaviour is focused in-app; they get information and news, and connect and interact inside of applications. Interestingly, we are seeing a trend for in-app behaviour from younger mobile users globally indicating that MobileFirst countries’ user behaviour is taste of things to come.


How MobileFirst determines digital advertising models

At the same time, MobileFirst consumers were never exposed to desktop advertising, cookies and remarketing or retargeting. Digital business models have largely been advertising-driven, and advertising has been the monetisation model for most apps in the US and Europe. However, because MobileFirst countries leapfrogged over the ‘desktop stepping stone’, digital advertising was very slow to develop.

This means that advertising in many MobileFirst countries is actually still heavily concentrated on traditional media like print, TV, and Out-of-home, but at the same time, they are developing the skill set and infrastructures to capture mobile audiences. As a consequence, many digital businesses in MobileFirst countries are commerce-driven rather than advertising-driven. However, increasingly and quickly, advertisers are recognising the need to engage their audiences where they are spending their time and investing more and more ad dollars straight into mobile.

If you take Indonesia, mobile penetration was at 32.6% in 2014, with the average Indonesian spending 181 minutes per day on their mobile device. Mobile advertising is set to explode in South East Asia over the next five years. Already in Indonesia, mobile ad spend tripled since last year to US$0.13 billion and by 2019, is forecast to be worth US$2.68 billion and will account for more than half of digital ad spend.


What next for advertisers in MobileFirst markets?

Advertisers need to focus more on using mobile to build audiences where and when it matters. There are huge untapped marketing opportunities within the smartphone, i.e. inside mobile applications. By carefully using psychographics that match their audience, advertisers can be better placed to be effective at the right place and at the right time.


Better targeted ads

Location based targeting is the most effective way to find and build mobile audiences. The first things advertisers have to do is to determine where they would like to target their audiences - e.g. which locations and how many locations. They can then add other targeting layers such as time, language, demographic, device types or even mobile networks to make their mobile ad as targeted as possible. Better targeting means more relevant ads that are more effective; that means higher CTR and higher secondary actions that drive foot traffic and activate sales.

MobileFirst user behaviour is a huge untapped opportunity as well as an important indicator for the future of mobile advertising industry. As mobile behaviour becomes more and more focused, advertisers need to focus their investments where their audiences are actually spending most of their time - mobile.



YOOSE is the market leader in location based advertising solutions in Asia-Pacific and Europe. An early pioneer in location-based technology, YOOSE has been delivering powerful mobile campaigns for global brands since 2008. YOOSE understands how location-based technology is changing the way mobile consumers behave and interact with brands; it employs its deep expertise, wide experience and passion to help brands capture the opportunities that the rapidly evolving area of location based advertising can bring.

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