Clients and agencies believe that mobile advertising will become a mainstay of UK marketing plans over the next two years, but there is a current disconnect between usage and understanding of the medium, according to new research by the IAB.
The IAB's Mobile Council surveyed 115 agencies, media planners, creatives and advertisers to uncover the state of the mobile market, their level of understanding, perceived barriers to entry and how to plan best for the future.
The research found usage within agencies is split down the middle, with 50% having used mobile, and the remainder having no experience in mobile advertising at all. However, while mobile advertising accounts for a small proportion of overall digital spend, many (62%) foresee that it will grow over the next two years and will become a standard part of budgets in 2010.
Respondents acknowledged that mobile will 'tip' over the next two years, and will firmly appear on media schedules by the end of the decade, with the majority citing robust and reliable mobile audience metrics such as measurement and campaign evaluation as critical to the success of the medium.
The research follows the IAB's announcement to officially widen its remit to serve the mobile advertising industry. The five UK networks - 3, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone UK have formed a Mobile Steering Group (MSG) to oversee and advise on the trade body's strategy to educate the advertisers and agencies about the benefits of the medium.
The study also pointed towards a greater need for industry-wide education, with, three quarters (76%) requiring further information on the efficacy of the medium.
Unsurprisingly, the mobile industry and digital agencies are seen as being the primary drivers pushing mobile advertising in parallel. Media owners are also attempting to move forward the industry with 36% of respondents saying they are very or slightly active. Traditional ad agencies are well behind the curve with only 10% actively driving this space.
However, there were many parallels drawn between mobile and online. Currently, the type of metrics used in mobile are similar to those used in online. The type of data that is reported back to agencies and clients is predominantly click-through (75%), delivered impressions (67%), unique users (47%), and cost per action (35%).
Mobile advertising in the future
When asked whether mobile will be the primary medium for communicating with 12 to 24 age groups more than 59% agreed. Three quarters (70%) believe that location based ads are effective today.
Respondents thought that mobile ads could be good for a wide variety of product categories, and overwhelmingly stated that the Entertainment category is most suited to mobile advertising (91%), followed by Leisure & Travel (57%), Telecoms (52%), Retail (52%) and FMCG (40%).
When asked whether mobile search will overtake fixed PC search by 2015 a quarter (25%) believed that it will. However, respondents did not see search as having much synergy with mobile in today's media landscape, with only 7% understanding mobile search and more than half (57%) lacking any familiarity with mobile search.
Respondents said that more information is needed to drive take up. The key areas where the industry believes it is falling short include: availability of audience data (53%), where to buy mobile inventory (49%), cost parameters (39%) and consumer insight studies (38%).
Jim Cook, editor of MobiAdNews and chair of the IAB Mobile Council, said: "Expectations for mobile advertising are high but actual understanding is low. The industry needs to address measurement, effectiveness and benchmarks if mobile advertising is going to reach a tipping point by 2010. The IAB intends to tackle each of these areas through quality research, events and collaboration with other mobile trade bodies like the GSMA and the MMA."