India is estimated to have a 40% y-o-y growth for its internet penetration (Mary Meeker Internet Trends, 2017) with its 2016 internet penetration (predominately mobile) standing at 27%. Reliance Jio reportedly had 109 million subscribers as of March, 2017. When you take this, coupled with the fact that India now leads the global market in terms of time spent on Android phones (as per an App Annie 2016 report), it is no wonder that marketers feel mobile advertising helps to effectively and efficiently reach their target audience.
Facebook and Google are top-of-mind preferences when it comes to mobile advertising as the duopoly is the common denominator amongst the global marketing community (excluding China) for what defines most people’s time spent on mobile internet. Thus, it also should not come as a surprise that according to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook and Google together collect nearly half of global digital advertising spend. As with all sectors, the emergence of any monopoly or duopoly might not be a good thing for the digital advertising industry in the long run. However, here, we are not going to look at how the reigning duopoly might be detrimental to the industry but about more grounded reasons on why marketers should look beyond these two giants to explore opportunities presented by other mobile publishers and ad networks.
The most obvious reason would be that Facebook and Google, regardless of their MAUs (monthly average users), DAUs (daily average users) and average time spent, cannot and will not represent 100% of any consumer’s mobile journey. For example, Truecaller, Hotstar and JioTV have huge user bases and active penetration rates. According to Kantar (2016), 45% of time spent on mobile is for entertainment. This can include app usage beyond YouTube (Google) and Facebook. Then the argument becomes a matter of none of the other mobile advertising players coming even remotely close to having the scale of either of the two giants.
“Why should I consider other mobile advertising partners when my team and I can master Google and Facebook and be able to reach out to almost everyone?” This might be a common thought amongst many marketers. But there are many answers to that question.
Finding an alternative
First, the most obvious reason would be RoMI (return on marketing investment). Much opportunity is lost to leverage on an equally effective mobile advertising platform that can be less costly than the more popular digital mediums. Most digital advertising companies rely on an RTB system to price their inventory. Platforms used by most tend to command an unnecessarily high price simply because there is more demand than supply while there are always online publishers who are ‘hidden gems’ allowing advertisers to reach their desired audiences.
Second, storytelling can be more diversified with new media. While Google and Facebook provide standardised ad formats, the combination of mobile and internet technologies presents advertisers with huge opportunities to create truly creative and impactful campaigns. For example, it is only until recent years that digital advertisers begun to experiment with targeting technologies layered with location data and interactive ad formats. Such advertising technologies and creative ad formats are mostly not directly provided by Facebook or Google. To be fair, huge efforts have been made in recent years by these two giants to provide ever-more sophisticated targeting parameters and formats beyond image and video. If we believe that most businesses are unique in the sense that they have a different combination of brand positioning, target audience, product pricing and distribution channels; why let these giants’ dashboard dictate what you can do creatively on the mobile front where alternative technologies and ad formats are already available out there in the market?
Last but not the least: from the perspective of a consumer, I see Google and Facebook on the verge of becoming the next TV or billboard in the long run. Consumer fatigue kicks in when there is an abundance of ads congregated in a particular space. I often find myself getting ready to click that five-second ‘skip’ button on YouTube even before the video starts playing. If you, as a marketer, find that your Facebook or Google campaigns are seeing a dip in your engagement rate year-on-year, perhaps this could be the reason.
In conclusion, even though I have pointed my views and justifications for advertisers to consider options beyond Facebook and Google for their next mobile advertising campaign, I would also like to say that each individual player in the industry also has a huge role to play to help drive this industry forward.
For one, the lack of a common measurement metric is not helping advertisers to evaluate individual publishers on common terms. Nevertheless, there is definitely huge potential for the industry as a whole; and ultimately as the industry matures, advertisers will have much to gain in terms of variety and lowered cost derived from healthy competition.
The author is VP, global sales & business development, Cheetah Mobile