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Mobile behaviour impacts Asian business strategies: BuzzCity interview

AvantiKumar | Nov. 11, 2014
Speaking to Computerworld Malaysia, BuzzCity Founder & CEO Dr KF Lai said businesses should increase focus on customer engagement metrics.

Global mobile advertising firm BuzzCity recently released its latest quarterly mobile Internet users report of attitudes to advertising, which involved 5,100 respondents across 25 countries who were surveyed between 11th September and 2nd Oct 2014.

Speaking to Computerworld Malaysia, BuzzCity's founder and chief executive officer Dr KF Lai said that despite a quarterly softening of mobile advertising, the report noted a 24 percent year-on-year growth of mobile advertising compared to 2013.

Dr KF Lai, BuzzCity founder and CEO

Photo  - Dr KF Lai, Founder and CEO, BuzzCity.

Could you give a rundown on current mobile usage in Malaysia and how this has evolved or changed over the last couple of years?

Consumers in Malaysia are definitely surfing more now than before. We delivered more than 2 billion ads to Malaysian audiences in the last quarter meaning advertisers are also responding to increased surfing activity. In fact, Malaysia consistently ranks among our top 10 global markets.

In Malaysia, mobile advertising on the network grew by some 20 percent as international mobile value added players intensified promotional efforts.

Also, cheaper smartphones and relatively affordable data plans have certainly helped make Internet access increasingly widespread. By November this year, more than 80 percent of surfers now use smartphones!

Our consumer sampling shows that there is an even spread between urban and rural users. Admittedly KL and JB has the highest concentration of mobile surfers, about 22 percent and 13 percent respectively, but there is an even spread across other states.

How have attitudes to mobile advertising changed and why?

Mobile content developers were the natural early adopters of mobile marketing, but are now joined by web based services and online retailers.

The popularity of e-commerce in Malaysia has certainly made online retailers re-think their online marketing approach and are now starting to include mobile. Many have a good understanding of how consumers user their websites and applications and are applying this to their campaigns. Retailers for example are taking advantage of daytime browsing on mobiles and after hours buying on PCs. Entertainment outlets are using mobiles as part of their integrated campaigns to drive consumers to cinemas.

TV appears to have retained its position as an influencing media on par with the Internet, mobile and online videos among a quarter of mobile surfers.

Among the findings are the mobile surfers' mixed feelings towards advertising - just as many have positive (65 percent) views of advertising as they do negative (54 percent). But, despite their ambivalence, 79 percent of mobile surfers claim to use advertising to make purchasing decisions. Nearly 1 in 4 (21 percent) use advertising for purchasing decisions daily, nearly  1 in 5 use advertising to make purchases weekly and a quarter overall (27 percent) feel advertising is informative."

Mobile marketing has also evolved from broadcast SMS to targeted display advertising and soon will be the primary device for delivering video ads. As its capabilities improve and consumer expectations increase, we expect advertisers will want to include many different ad formats into their communications.  

Mobile has, in many ways, become mainstream media but advertisers will need to be comfortable with communications beyond promotional offers. In a media where the consumer is king, advertisers can do longer be indifferent to consumer wants.

How should businesses be adapting to these changes?

The consumer's love-hate relationship with advertising continues but, connected and informed, they have higher expectations of their sources of information.  Businesses need to develop a content strategy that supports the delivery of information across many channels.

The mixed feelings mobile users have towards advertising indicates their high expectations as connected consumers. If there is a threat to mobile advertising it will be advertisers' indifference to the consumers' wants. Advertisers can no longer afford to work digital channels as independent media but as an integrated digital approach across devices.

Content design needs to take a customer centric approach. Unfortunately far too many companies use social media for example, as a means to just broadcast promotional messages. Developing customer-centric content suggests creating content that ties in with customers' needs, provides easy-to-grasp solutions to critical customer pain points, and differentiates itself from competition by highlighting why your product as the perfect solution to these issues. This should be the basis on which businesses need to build their customer experience of their product - online and offline.

Mobile plays an important role in the customer journey but the success lies in playing all channels right to be consistently present across all devices. Key is to get the customer experience right.

The findings reveal that consumers have high expectations of advertising and feel that they see the same ad too often (38 percent) and that there are too many ads (38 percent) while 19 percent feel that the ads they see are not relevant.

The report recommends that advertisers should not stop at just measuring performance but also develop engagement metrics relevant to their service.  Advertisers must look beyond banner advertising to other rich media and video formats to deliver their message.


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