2016: Prepare for the empowered mobile consumer

ZenithOptimedia Worldwide and GlobalWebIndex forecasts young people spending more time accessing the internet via mobile than all other devices combined by 2018. So what does this mean for 2016?

Linda Tan: the worldwide insights director at ZenithOptimedia
Linda Tan: the worldwide insights director at ZenithOptimedia
Millennials and Generation Z, the true digital natives, are accelerating the world towards the mobile tipping point – when consumers spend more time accessing the web from their mobile than any other device.

This means that in 2016 brands need to move to marketing strategies which create experiences that fully engage with the mobile consumer.

We believe that mobile is now moving beyond being just another medium in the mix, to becoming the primary platform for all brand communication.

As we edge to towards becoming a fully mobile society, businesses will be expected to deliver personalisation and contextual relevancy through smart phones, but also understand how to be transparent and listen to consumers when interacting through their personal devices.

Mobile continues to develop fast, and to be able to prepare for a mobile-first future marketers must understand platform specific behaviours and harness emerging technologies that are driving this.

From our research we have been able to identify some of the key trends that are transforming us into a mobile society and where the opportunity is for brands.

A big change in mobile consumer behaviour has been the role of voice search. Although voice search was initially developed eight years ago, it's been slow to take off with consumers.

With the rise of apps like Siri and the ownership of wearable devices, this is becoming far more habitual for consumers, particularly digital natives. To prove this point, recent research conducted by Google showed that 55 per cent of users under the age of 18 use voice search apps more than once a day compared to 41 per cent of adults.

This pattern of behaviour will have a big impact for brands, which need to start tracking these behaviours. Brands should be looking to implement a test and learn programme to keep one step ahead of competitors in 2016, because this really will be the dominant way people search in the near future.

A deeper affect of mobile is on the way consumers speak and communicate. Marketers looking to communicate with consumers through mobile devices now need to speak in a new mobile language. 2015 saw emojis become a hot topic in the media as the new language replacing text, allowing consumers (millennials and Generation Z particularly) to communicate emotion with authenticity. There is still some way for marketers to go though to understand their audience and use emojis in an authentic, relevant and genuine way.

Good examples to follow include the World Wide Fund for Nature, which worked the symbols into a Twitter fundraising campaign encouraging consumers who routinely use the emoji of endangered animals to donate to its conservation efforts.

For advertisers, the big news last year was ad-blocking; from Apple's plans to introduce an in-built ad blocker into its iOS-9 update, to industry reports from the likes of the IAB claiming 18 per cent of consumers are using ad-blockers.

In light of the rise in ad-blocking and with banners becoming increasingly ineffective on mobile devices, we expect native advertising to grow significantly in 2016.

ZenithOptimedia's ad forecast estimates that native ads will represent one third of all display advertising by 2017. Native advertising will help marketers develop mobile ads that are less intrusive to the consumer's mobile browsing experience and in the era of ad-blocking provide new avenues to drive brand awareness and generate leads.

With the internet increasingly taking a more audience-centric stance, marrying both advertiser and publisher data will be crucial to realising relevant advertising experiences on mobile in 2016.

In 2015 we saw consumers adopting new mobile behaviours (of which these are just some). These behaviours will continue to mature as mobile becomes a more dominant platform in consumers' lives.

For advertisers, success will be dependent on understanding this mobile behaviour and making the necessary changes to marketing strategies to prepare for a truly empowered mobile consumer.

Linda Tan is the worldwide insights director at ZenithOptimedia

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