The proliferation of mobile advertising off the back of ever-increasing levels of mobile use worldwide is encouraging news. Data from data.ai’s State of Mobile 2024 report suggests that the global mobile industry is worth well over $500bn and of that around $350bn is derived from mobile advertising and marketing. This figure, it predicts, will rise to more than $400bn in 2024.
Interestingly, much of this is predicated on ‘business as usual’, with typical mobile marketing tropes – performance marketing, banners, pop-ups and so on – continuing to rule the mobile roost. But what of the subtle, but undeniable, shift in marketing, mobile or otherwise, to new, AI-powered ways of reaching out to consumers?
Ads are already under threat from the crumbling of the cookies model – soon the data needed to target them will to come from elsewhere. While AI can to some extent help with this in third-party data, what merchants really need is better first-party data to market from. This is where brands and merchants can seize an opportunity: selling ads on their own sites. Consider a baked beans manufacturer: where better to market to bean eaters than on an online supermarket’s tinned goods page on its site or app?
This idea of retail media – where retailers own the media properties that brands want to advertise on – is starting to gain traction in the US and UK, where supermarkets such as Walmart in the US and Tesco in the UK are now selling ad space on their own sites backed by their own first party data – all of which is managed by AI.
This is going to profoundly impact mobile marketing. Ad space will no longer be the preserve of Google and other mobile search sites, rather it will be moved into the hands of brands and merchants.
This may add – or it could subtract – from the total ad spend, no one knows for sure, but what we do know is that it will fundamentally change who in the value chain gets the ad revenue.
It also looks to be hugely disruptive to affiliate marketing as it currently stands, unless that industry gets on board – which given its track record of going where the money is, is highly likely.
The impact on how VAS services are marketed is yet to be seen, but what works for beans today, will also work for games tomorrow.
Similarly, the use of AI in search is also going to disrupt how VAS is marketed. The use of AI to segment data and create ever-more personalised ads is well understood. What is less well-known is how consumers are starting – albeit in small numbers – to use Generative AI (GenAI) to search for stuff. Some people (me included) are starting to use Google’s Bard to compile lists of what to the search in the traditional way when looking for things.
As Google looks to combine this form of search with the traditional SEO/organic model, more and more users are going to start to behave as I do – and that fundamentally shifts mobile search. Advertising on Google is no always going to be important, but how content is used to sell – and how GenAI will pick it up from the web when asked – is going to change.
Forget ads as we know them; the future lies in turning everything you do into a searchable, marketable entity that will help your services and products get discovered, used and paid for.
It is some way off, but it is coming: big changes are afoot in the marketing world and the mobile ecosystem, which is already booming, is set for potentially even more to come.