The ease with which marketers find buying mobile advertising in the Middle East is contributing to significant increases in mobile marketing budgets in the region, with 20% expecting growth of more than 100% over the next five years, new research from Warc and the Mobile Marketing Association reveals today.
Based on a survey of 132 marketing and advertising professionals from 10 markets across the Middle East, the State of The Industry: Mobile Marketing in The Middle East report found that though more than half of the responding marketers are currently attributing less than 10% of their budget to mobile, 78% find mobile ad buying easy, and 95% plan on increasing their budgets this year.
The survey, designed to be a snapshot of the current state of mobile marketing, found that the biggest barrier to the growth of the channel is a lack of mobile friendly sites; selected by more than a third of respondents.
Despite this barrier, the majority have a formal mobile marketing strategy, with the results revealing that mobile is being used most in the Middle East alongside social media (83%) and online activities, including search (83%). Social media marketing via mobile is popular in the region: YouTube, Twitter and Instagram are all being used by more than three quarters of respondents, and use of Facebook is at 95%.
Though mobile strategies are in place for the majority, the survey results make evident the continuing need for integration, with only 38% of those with a strategy indicating that it is closely connected with other marketing activities.
Over the next year, almost two-thirds (63%) of marketers intend to utilise mobile video, reflecting the selection of 'watching video' as the third most significant consumer behaviour enabled by mobile (42%). Ahead of video, multi-screening (72%) and mobile payments (55%) are seen as the most significant enabled behaviours. In response to the latter, mobile wallets, alongside virtual reality and augmented reality, are expected to come to the fore in the next five years.
Respondents indicated that mobile marketing innovation is greatest in the Travel, transport and tourism, Telecoms and Food Industries, and Samsung is viewed as the most innovative brand.
Programmatic / RTB is emerging as a dominant medium for ad buying in the region, with the survey results showing 18% of respondents using it for every trade, and a further 45% using it often. Almost 100% think programmatic will be important to marketing strategies in five years' time.
In addition, more than half of marketers are using a private market place (PMP) to buy or sell mobile ad space. Asked to select up to three primary reasons for using a PMP, 83% of these are using a PMP for securing quality ad inventory, and 59% for better consumer targeting.
Commenting on the findings, Chris Babayode, Managing Director of the MMA EMEA, said: "Having launched the MMA Middle East earlier this year, focused on 3 pillars - building capabilities and knowledge, cultivating inspiration and demonstrating mobile's impact - these results will give marketers a benchmark by which to measure their own mobile maturity as they take advantage of consumers' engagement with their mobile devices in the region. This is the first report of its kind for the Middle East and we intend to publish this snapshot every year and assess the trends."
"These findings show the clear intention by marketers in the Middle East to increase their focus on mobile marketing," added Amy Rodgers, Research Editor at Warc. "Mobile is enabling a host of changes in consumer behaviour, with multi-screening, mobile payments and mobile video expected to be key areas of investment over the coming year as a result."