Navigating the Mobile Advertising Ecosystem in 2021

Amit Gupta, Managing Partner, Httpool India, highlights some landmarks to look for in 2021’s mobile advertising ecosystem.

2020 will go down in history as the year of the pandemic. This year has led to significant changes worldwide, impacting the way we live, socialise and do business. App Annie reports that mobile app usage grew 40% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2020, hitting an all-time high of over 200 billion hours during April. In parallel, consumer spending in apps hit a record high of $27 billion in the second quarter of 2020, with app downloads reaching nearly 35 billion.

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Brands that recognise this growth trend in usage of mobile phones and apps have also discovered a great new opportunity to reach their audiences through mobile advertising.

There are some landmarks to look for in 2021’s mobile advertising ecosystem:

 Targeting and Geo-targeting

As an already well-known feature, targeting is available in various forms across a wide variety of digital platforms. It is based on user attributions, behaviour, or intent, which might be through 1st party data or 3rd party data, or a combination of both. Utilising audience data allows advertisers to reach out to appropriate target audiences more effectively, focusing on the most advantageous channels and time periods.

In addition, geographic parameters for targeting have become an extremely interesting and useful tool. They are the most beneficial to brands looking to communicate directly to audiences in specific regions. For example, an apparel brand looking to target a young audience in specific areas like Bandra in Mumbai or Saket in Delhi, can use the geodata for these areas and layer it with other audience data, such as age group or interests (e.g. coffee lovers, frequent mall visitors). Geo-targeting has certainly opened up more significant opportunities for the retail local brands, who have so far been conservative in the digital space due to higher targeting spillage.

 Growing importance of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

 New technologies built on artificial intelligence and machine learning functions, aim to use the audience’s predictive behaviour and match it with look-alike products and services, thereby expanding audience size in an informed and precise manner. This adds a layer on to the classical look-alike audiences method by including behavioral patterns, habits and aspirations. For example, an automotive brand might not just wish to reach people older than 35 years, earning Rs 20 lakh and commuting in metros, but add in additional characteristics of target audiences, such as hobbies and their intent to own or buy a new vehicle, and the results could be surprising. Who knows, potential buyers might also be farmers with a successful crop, or 28-year-old start-up entrepreneurs who reached favourable results very quickly.

While the reasoning behind such targeting might sound simple, the technology behind it is not. The complex appropriate algorithms have to be continuously developed and one such global tool, dedicated to mobile advertising on Twitter, and certified as its official API partner, is Wise.Blue.

 Ad Engagement

Knowing how many people engage with your ad is key to building a robust campaign and helps drive user intent on the ad before taking them to the desired destination. You can drive ad engagement by creating interactive and non-intrusive ads to keep up with the user experience. Just like in real life, if you are at a cricket game, advertisement banners are placed within the stadium without disturbing the game's flow. In contrast at bike races, advertisements would be placed alongside the racing tracks, and additionally, in gaming apps, ad banners can be “native” and look precisely like the game environment. The good news is that such placements can be done programmatically, based on the IAB standards.

 Augmented and Virtual Reality

These ground breaking technologies will be real game-changers for verticals, such as, education, tourism, medical, communications & gaming. Being immersive in nature, they can provide a life-like experience with high interactivity and customisation. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are expected to become more prominent in late 2020 and 2021. You can already run AR ads on Instagram or Snapchat.

Think of a theme park based out of Singapore, looking to reach and communicate their proposition to a specific target audience. It becomes a real challenge for the marketer to share a real experience with the user. What if you could create a small understanding of the actual park using AR/VR? Delivering a virtual experience to an exciting audience could be a new formula for success.

As the year of the pandemic moves to a close, we have learned to harness the full potential of technology, including mobile, to its fullest. And so, who knows, the coming year might become ‘the year of mobile’.


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