Unstoppable Mobile Momentum

What better time to share some updates on the fast-growing mobile space, which is creating all sorts of new opportunities for show organizers, than the week before the new version of one of the hottest mobile products in the world, Apple’s iPad, starts shipping.

Some 55 million iPads have been sold in the two years since it was launched; 62 million iOS devices (iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches) were sold in Q4 2011 alone, and Apple said response to the new iPad 3 has been “off the charts” in a statement to USA Today. Add to that Google’s announcement a few weeks ago that they are now seeing 850,000 Android activations daily, and last week’s comScore report that “U.S. smartphone subscribers surpassed the 100-million mark in January”… and I think you will see how fast advanced mobile devices are scaling.

More and more smartphones and tablets mean richer advertising opportunities to connect with mobile users – and potential attendees of your next show. According to an eMarketer forecast in January 2012, U.S. mobile ad spend is expected to reach $2.6 billion this year, and hit $4.3 billion next year.

Mobile is evolving very quickly, so stay on top of your audience’s changing media habits. They will significantly define what you can do to promote your show, i.e. the mobile marketing menu looks much different if your audience has a smartphone penetration rate of 90% vs. 30%.

Keep up with what’s happening in the overall mobile media space as well so you know what is available to you. Here are some current updates that you may find helpful as you shape your show’s mobile marketing strategy.

Mobile Content Usage: According to last week’s comScore report, for the three-month average period ending in January, the following are the percentages of U.S. mobile subscribers 13+ that engaged in the top three mobile content activities…

Sent text message to another phone          74.6%
Used downloaded apps                              48.6%
Used browser                                              48.5%

Channel Mix: According to eMarketer’s January 2012 estimates, the 2012 U.S. mobile ad spend will break down like this…

Search                                                         49%
Banners and rich media                              33%
SMS/MMS/P2P Messaging                        12.2%
Video                                                            5.8%

Ad Units/Formats:
Just two weeks ago, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) announced its “Mobile Rising Stars,” a series of five new cross-platform mobile ad formats designed to deliver richer, more engaging user experiences. Check them out at www.iab.net/risingstarsmobile.

Pricing: There is currently much more mobile ad inventory than demand which is putting downward pressure on pricing so you can get some good deals today. It is a great time to experiment!

Cristopher Levy is managing partner of Encore Media Partners. Encore is an audience strategy, marketing and media buying agency covering traditional, digital and mobile platforms, which specializes in local, national and global trade and consumer shows, exhibitions and conferences. Reach him at clevy@encoremediapartners.com.