Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

The NDA Roundtable: What’s the future of mobile advertising?

Amid tightening restrictions on the targeting, tracking and measurement of digital ads, what role will mobile play in the future of digital marketing? Is a Chinese-style ‘Super App’ likely to emerge in the UK? What trends should mobile advertisers be monitoring in 2022?

These were among the questions posed to a panel of mobile marketing experts at a recent roundtable discussion, organised by New Digital Age (NDA). The session was chaired by NDA’s editor-in-chief Justin Pearse, where he was joined by: Paul Coggins, CEO of Adludio; Josh Williams, Head of Technology at Mediahub; Saint Betteridge, Chief Commercial Officer at Picnic; Barry Walsh, Digital Strategy Partner at Havas Media Group; Annabelle Rogers, Head of Paid Social and Display at VCCP Media; and Dave Wallace, Head of Consumer Apps at Mediacom. 

Having addressed the current state of play in mobile advertising in the first part of the discussion, the conversation then turned to the trends and market shifts our panel felt would be most influential in the future. 

On the impact of cookie deprecation and other restrictions to personal ID data, Barry Walsh of Havas Media Group played down the potential impacts. He said: “Those of us working in the mobile space have known for a long time that first-party data is superior to using cookies. It’s always much better to build relationships with our audiences based on what we know, rather than what’s being implied. I see the loss of cookies as more of an opportunity for mobile than a threat.”

Walsh believes that the power of mobile’s interaction with other media, particular TV, Connected TV and Digital Out of Home (DOOH) will help to ensure that mobile campaigns remain on the media plans of brand advertisers. 

““There are lots of studies which show how mobile and TV can interact to drive mass awareness.There’s always a big uptick in search activity on mobile whenever a new brand appears on TV. Dual screening is now huge across every demographic, every generation. Another recent study showed that the attention generated by billboards increased by 52% where a consumer had first been engaged by the advertiser on a social platform. That sort of interplay means that mobile will remain a vital component of most omni-channel campaigns.”  

Evolution or revolution?

Paul Coggins of Adludio agreed that mobile will continue to be a pivotal tool for advertisers and that its role will continue to evolve. “Think of how social media and apps have popularised mobile purchases over the past two or three years. Shopping in Instagram, for example, is a big thing now that didn’t exist a couple of years ago. It’s possible that popular apps like Meta and Uber will continue to expand their range of services to become a sort of ‘super app’ incorporating social, shopping, financial services, all in one place, like WeChat in China. Over there, if you’re not on WeChat, you’re in trouble.”

While some panellists felt that the emergence of a European or UK ‘Super App’ was unlikely, due mainly to consumer squeamishness, Annabelle Rogers of VCCP Media wasn’t so sure. 

She said: “There’s a generation coming-of-age right now that has never known life without a smartphone. A generation that communicates and makes purchases on apps like TikTok and Discord. Among that generation, the development of an all-purpose Super App in the UK might be entirely plausible.

“For me the key to navigating advertising mobile, both now and tomorrow, is making sure that the content you are delivering is native to the platform or publication, that looks seamless and represents a great experience. That means putting time and effort into developing creative that is suitable for wherever it’s placed. The alternative is an ecosystem cluttered with ineffective, annoying ads, which doesn’t benefit anybody.”

Sign of the times

Picnic’s Saint Betteridge pointed to the revival of the QR code as a sign of mobile’s continuing resilience. He said: “The pandemic forced people to get used to using QR codes and that has carried over into the post-lockdown. We’ve worked on regional campaigns that have combined mobile, QR codes and DOOH and worked really well in driving traffic to apps.

“Mobile will keep evolving but the key to leveraging it in the future will still be to understand your customer and their expectations. We’re dealing with very discerning, savvy, customers on mobile, often digital natives, who demand a great user experience and welcome creativity.”

Dave Wallace of Mediacom agreed that the younger generation will be the ones to dictate the future of mobile marketing. He said: “My youngest two kids are 14 and 16 and part of what I call the iPad generation. The way they behave is very different from us and even different from the behaviour of their older siblings. They have a different view of the world and are quite comfortable transacting on mobile devices. 

“My advice to any mobile advertiser trying to figure out what comes next is to always think people-first, to understand your mobile web pages or app from a consumer point of view. Then, start knocking down the silos within your organisation, create a working Group encompassing marketing, sales, tech and digital teams, and develop a strategy encompassing mobile that everyone understands and can get behind.” 

When asked for his single best piece of advice for mobile advertisers right now, Josh Williams of Mediahub was happy to zero-in on the world’s most famous mobile tech brand. He said: “My headline advice would be look out for Apple. It’s no big secret that they have been actively hiring DSP engineers recently. Expect that hiring activity to manifest itself in the form of programmatic slots in the app store and mobile gaming ad slots via Apple Arcade. It’s really important that marketers understand the impact of iOS on their business and their KPIs and get ready for the train that’s coming over the hill.”

Part one of this report can be read here.