What’s On

The art of user interface

The mobile advertising space is strongly influenced by the growing number of mobile devices accessing online services and the related explosion of app downloads across Asia. In addressing the mobile advertising trends of this year from Smaato’s perspective as the leading Ad Exchange and SSP (supply side platform), lets have a look at trends among different stakeholders accessing mobile properties –media companies, consumer behaviour and what this means to direct-to-consumer companies.

Media Companies
From Singapore to the rest of Asia, all media companies have noted the increase in usage of mobile devices accessing their portals and digital media. This growth rate is exceeding more than 50 per cent in actual access and continues to grow. It also only refers to the media companies’ online portals and websites, which do not include their specific mobile apps.

This has led to push companies to optimise their online properties for the mobile experience. It has become obvious that a user will not react well and engage with the platform if they are required to pinch and zoom their screens to navigate their way around. Hence the art of UI (User Interface) specific to mobile surfing has evolved to focusing on providing the users the basic information they need immediately.

‘Mobile Snacking’ is when users surf on mobile for a short duration, which usually happens when they are waiting for someone or are in a queue. The aim of snacking is always to be entertained or to be informed. Most common searches are social network updates, forums, videos, and news headlines, to name a few.

Media companies are now creating a good mobile experience and using digital benchmarks of per user with reports like bounce rates, engagement, duration of surfing, popular segments (most visited). This is then compared to repeat users.

Media companies realise that users might not be willing to download their app but will visit their website. This includes news portals. Other extensions are the B2C companies like hotel booking sites, airlines, cinemas, shopping malls, F&B outlets.

The monetisation model for mobile is now important as it differs from the web. Integrated media selling is doing well, but advertisers tend to provide a web banner ad and a URL that leads to a website that might not be mobile user-friendly. As such, the effectiveness of the ad campaign on mobile might not work well for advertiser impact. This is unless the media companies also ask for a mobile landing URL and have separate platforms for the different devices.

Consumers Accessing Media
Users have different needs when they surf on their mobile devices. Their time spent surfing may be short and mainly for convenience – for example, they might be in a shopping mall and want to know where is the best place to eat or if there are any special deals available for them to check out. This basic info could include click to maps/location, number to call, price and key product.

Comparing of prices and getting user reviews at the store itself is now commonplace before consumers make a buying decision. Apps like barcode scanners also assist in searching for product information and reviews.
Users in Asia trust social media and reviews more than product or company information and this has greatly affected their choices and decisions to purchase. Consumers’ expectations are now high and they will always be more keen to listen to other fellow consumers.

B2C Companies
Direct-to-consumer companies then face an uphill battle for mobile users to download their app (if they ever create one). The key question is: why would a consumer download a brand app and use it often?
The challenges of having a useful utility function is identified to be the key factor determining why a user will keep using the app. Entertainment tie-ups like games or cool features has not been enough to entice a user to download an app, let alone keep using it. Incentive offers do attract attention but consumers will want more incentives like special discounts often. Some examples of B2C companies that may identify with this are hotel booking sites, airlines, cinemas, shopping malls, F&B outlets and FMCG brands.

The best way to go about it is then to develop a mobile user-friendly site. More specifically, developers can mimic an app experience where users can bookmark and revisit based on their needs. Successful sites focus on the immediate surfing, or “snacking” needs of the user. Focus and tie it to the company’s marketing objective of closing a buying decision – provide the store location, basic product-marketing message, number to call and store opening hours.

As Asia has greater mobile penetration compared to PC, many companies are now focusing on engaging their users on mobile, which has led to more mobile-friendly sites – a trend I see continuing to 2015.

The write up is part of the DMA Annual Report ‘What’s Trending 2015‘.
To book your own hard copy of the Annual, write to marketing@digitalmarket.asia

Malcolm Wong

Malcolm Wong is the Managing Director for Smaato in Singapore. He oversees operations in the Asia-Pacific office, as well as Smaato’s joint venture with Indosat: the Indonesia Mobile Exchange in Indonesia.
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