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Branded content shows the most potential for growth, as mobile usage shoots up: Publisher insights from the WARC study

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Mobile usage continues to record substantial growth with data from earlier this year showing that mobile devices accounted for 48% of web page views worldwide. Global mobile data traffic is projected to increase nearly sevenfold between 2017 and 2022. 

Additionally, a Pew research from last year found that 58% of US adults often get their news on a mobile device compared to 21% who did so in 2013.

A new study from WARC and the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) which included respondents from the publishing industry, has found that mobile is increasingly seen as an effective marketing channel. As it continues to be a disruptive force across industries, it is expected by the majority to have an even greater impact in the future. 

The report contains useful insights for publishers who rely upon ad revenues. 

The findings of this year’s survey reveal that mobile marketing is becoming increasingly more effective and is impacting all sectors across the UK, and this is set to continue with three quarters of UK marketers expecting to increase their mobile budgets over the coming year.

Amy Rodgers, Managing Editor, Research & Rankings at WARC

Here are the key findings for publishers:

30% of marketing budgets allocated to mobile, expected to rise further

58% of the respondents think that mobile is already a major disruptor compared to 50% in 2018. 35% believe its impact will continue to increase in the future. 

27% of the participants say they have allocated more than 30% of their marketing budget to mobile. 74% expect the budget to increase over the next year, only 5% expect a decline. 

Among those expecting an increase in budget, 79% expect increases of less than 25%, while 1% predict it will be more than 100%. Further, 78% say they would allocate up to 25% of their budget to martech.

81% think that mobile plays a significant role in the purchase journey of their typical customer. 67% agree that customer engagement on mobile is high. 

Publishers providing branded content services take note: although display is the most popular form of mobile advertising, branded content continues to show the most potential for future growth. 

53% of the marketers in the survey plan to use it in the next 5 years. This year 46% of the respondents will be focusing on mobile web display, and 42% say they will use mobile-based branded content.

Social the most used media channel

86% of marketers say they use social media where they have increasingly diverse advertising options such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Facebook is the most popular platform, followed by Instagram and Youtube. Mobile video advertising is a focus for 54% of respondents.

Advertising on YouTube has declined by 10% compared to last year. This is attributed to the lack of transparency around content guidelines on the platform. Which means advertisements on the platform risk brand safety and have the potential to decrease consumer engagement.

Desktop search and display is used by 60%, a 9% increase from 2018.  

Barriers and challenges

However, metrics and measurements (34%) and consumer privacy (31%) are the key barriers to the growth of mobile marketing. This shows that there is still uncertainty one year after the implementation of GDPR. They are followed by fragmentation of the mobile ecosystem for 30% of the respondents, compared to 38% in 2018.

The majority of the marketers say they measure mobile marketing effectiveness through engagement metrics like video completion rates, social sharing, CTR, etc. There is an increase in marketers using business metrics, including ROI, incremental sales, profit and LTV. 55% say they are using business metrics compared to 48% last year.

The report is based on an online survey of 426 marketing professionals, carried out in March and April 2019. Over a third of respondents (35%) are brand-side marketers working in-house. An identical number are from agencies, and the remainder from technology vendors, consultants and media owners/publishers.

Download the full report from WARC:
Mobile marketing in the UK 2019