With mobile penetration of 110 percent (source: Telsyte) and good 3G coverage, Australia is a country of great potential for the mobile Internet. Many of the top online publishers such as Bigpond (Telstra), Yahoo!7, NineMSN, News Digital Media are seeing their mobile sites grow at 89 percent per year (source: Australian Interactive Media Industry Association). Plenty of mobile specific sites have also sprung up, such as OZmobi.mobi (a mobile guide to Australia).
For the inside track on Australia, we turned to TigerSpike’s Alex Burke, general manager Asia and Alex Hall, chief operations officer. TigerSpike is an Australian mobile specialist with offices in Sydney, London and New York, with clients that include Pepsi, Fairfax Digital, Virgin Australia, Vodafone Australia, FOXTEL and Telstra.
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Q1: How big or advanced is mobile web in Australia v rest of world? What is the potential?
The Australian market is relatively small in size, but has strong potential, with a history as a test bed for technical innovation.
The adoption of the mobile Web is dependent on three things: 3G infrastructure, carrier pricing models and consumer propensity to adopt new technology:
The mobile Web has been growing year on year, but it really came of age in 2008, with more and more people browsing content on their phones, particularly on the back of the launch of the iPhone from the middle of 2008. Mobile sites receive millions of page impressions a month, which encourages more brands, advertisers and sponsors to invest in mobile, making the business model for mobile a reality.
Q2: What is driving growth? What is holding it up?
Consumers are changing their lifestyle habits, consuming content in different ways. As it becomes habit for people to use their phones to get content, demand for mobile Web services increases. Media companies are leading the way in meeting this demand, but significant growth will only happen when other industries begin to understand how best to leverage the technology – this will come with education.
Q3: Which industries/sectors have shown the most interest? Is interest from local or international companies?
Telecoms and media businesses – in particular Telstra and Fairfax (the Australian newspaper giant) – led the way in making their content available on the mobile Web. This makes sense as the heavy users of their news, sport, weather and mapping services online are likely to be technology-savvy, and will want to access them on the mobile phone as well.
With more advanced devices, with better navigation now available and more consumers becoming mobile Web literate, mainstream consumer brands have started to show interest. In most sectors, international brands have been the earliest adopters.
Q4: Which brands are the most innovative and which spend the most on mobile marketing? Who isn’t interested that should be?
The leaders within specific industry verticals include Toyota, Nike, Coca-Cola and Fosters. These are brands have become synonymous with innovation and have always looked to push the boundaries across every marketing channel.
There’s a strong case to be made for almost every brand to use mobile marketing, but those that target younger males are missing out the most, by not getting involved.
Q5: What are they doing – mobile Web site, banner ads, text campaigns?
Between them the brands mentioned above have covered the full spectrum: from the mobile call to action with traditional media; through mobile as a communication channel in its own right; to mobile content in terms of mobile Web sites, mobile-specific applications, banner advertising and user-generated content. In order to hit the right target, they’re also using all the delivery methods at their disposal, be it SMS, MMS, Bluetooth, WAP or QR codes.
Q6: Are these long-term or short-term campaigns; who is integrating site, ads and text; and who is integrating with other media such as billboard, TV, press campaigns?
It is a mixture. Most of the traditional brands look to launch short-term campaigns on the back of a promotion; however increasingly we find that companies are now looking to integrate mobile into their core offering, which is making mobile more of a long-term proposition. We believe this trend will continue through 2009.
Q7: What are the best mobile sites in Australia? What makes them stand out?
A great mobile site combines an understanding of three things:
The Fairfax sites are great examples of where the information is easy to find. Another good one is Mobile FOXTEL on the Telstra platform. Launched nearly two years ago, FOXTEL is a subscription-based service with over 30 channels of live streamed video content – a dozen of these are specifically made for mobile.
Q8: What type of site is most popular with a) consumers and b) business customers?
The most popular content with consumers is news, sport, entertainment, weather and maps. Mobile social networking is becoming a popular way to keep up to speed with friends. It really does just take the touch of a button to update your location, what you’re doing and to see what everyone else is up to at the same time.
The business market is still in its infancy; however we should see some growth in 2009.
Q9: Who are the most innovative / powerful players on the supply side: a) creative agencies b) advertising networks. And who are the gurus?
To date traditional agencies have struggled to adapt their creative expertise to suit the mobile consumer. Also with so many different handsets out there, technical delivery is pretty complex. This has opened the door for mobile specialists able to handle both the creative and technical sides of mobile marketing – in Australia, agencies such as TigerSpike and m.Net.
Q10: What is the most exciting thing about mobile?
There are so many exciting possibilities in mobile, but mobile banking looks to be particularly interesting. This will really take off as consumers start to feel comfortable about using their phone as a mode of payment.
Q11: What do you do better in Australia than the rest of the mobile marketing world does?
One key advantage is the adventurous nature of Australians – the willingness to give new things a go. This is critical for a new medium like mobile, as growth stems from both the brand’s willingness to innovate with mobile marketing and consumer acceptance of the new channel. Due to the size of the market, Australia a great test bed to gauge likely success of mobile campaigns in other larger markets.
There’s more information on TigerSpike and the Australian and International campaigns here.
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