The insiders guide to mobile Web marketing in the UK

Last updated: 12-02-10 to include most popular mobile destinations from GSMA/ComScore.

The UK has seen tremendous growth in mobile Internet in the past 18 months, as mobile browsing becomes more user friendly. But operators could do more to make data more affordable to the masses, says Nick Lane, chief analyst, mobileSQUARED. mobileSQUARED surveyed 85 UK mobile agencies between July and October 2009 and Lightspeed Research surveyed 1,400 consumers in September 2009.

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How big or advanced is mobile Web in the UK? What is the potential?

16 million UK citizens access the Internet using their mobile phone according to mobileSQUARED research. That’s almost 27 percent of the UK’s ‘active’ mobile phone population (calculated to be about 59 million). 13 million or 22 percent access the mobile Web frequently, i.e. more than once a month.
mobileSQUARED forecasts that the total number of mobile Internet users in the UK will top 32 million or 48 percent of mobile users by 2014.
If you include mobile dongles which give laptops access to the Internet, then mobile will overtake fixed line as the main access point to the Internet from 2011.
From a usage point of view, however it will be a very long time before mobile challenges fixed Internet, primarily because mobile Web users behave in fundamentally different ways to PC Web users – they snack rather than dine. That’s why the most popular mobile sites in UK are usually information and news.
Mobile Internet has evolved from a retail platform for mobile content into a delivery channel for information and services, and with time it will also evolve into a payment platform.

What is driving growth? What’s holding it up?
Improvement to the user interface has been a key driver of mobile Internet growth. Over the past 18 months browsing has become a considerably more compelling experience. Not only does that mean more people are using the mobile Web, but they are spending more time browsing. mobileSQUARED’s consumer research reveals that once a user starts browsing the mobile Internet, they rapidly become heavier users.
The phenomenal growth of the mobile Web over the past 18 months does coincide with the launch of the iPhone, suggesting that the accompanying marketing campaigns and media hype has helped to educate the UK public. However the iPhone attracts wealthy early adopters for which the price of the device and/or contract isn’t an issue.
For the majority of the UK consumers, though, price remains an issue. The price of mobile data pricing remains the main deterrent to adoption of the mobile Web. Direct-to-consumer publishers argue that mobile pricing is not transparent to the consumer. In fact high-street retailers in the UK publish monthly magazines to help explain the vast array of packages available to the consumer.
mobileSQUARED research points to the need for mobile operators to rethink data pricing in order to make mobile Internet a compelling proposition to the mass market, including introducing variable data pricing, offering concessions to students and the elderly, as well as peak and off-peak data rates.

Which industries/sectors/brands have shown the most interest in mobile marketing in the UK?
Mobile content providers (for example Jamster, Playphone and Fox) have dominated mobile advertising expenditure in the UK, contributing as much as 75 percent of advertising revenues.
However, as currently there’s a bit of a lull in demand for premium content, mobileSQUARED predicts that content providers will moderate their mobile ad spend in 2H2009 and 2010 slowing market growth.
Meanwhile global brands such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, BMW, McDonald’s are increasing their mobile advertising activity – this is starting to offset any potential decline as content providers scale back, and should begin to have a visible impact on expenditure from 2010.

Where are marketers investing – mobile Web site; banner ads; SMS campaigns?
SMS marketing continues to grow. mobileSQUARED finds that a lot of mobile agencies are now delivering more messaging-based campaigns in the UK than in 2008. Blyk [which ran an advertising-funded mobile phone network in the UK until July 2009 and now works with mobile operators] helped to prove that consumers accept permission-based marketing and demonstrated that it is both a measurable and easy-to-track medium.
Mobile content providers (including application developers) tend to focus on display-based ad formats, favoring mobile banners, search and tenancy. mobileSQUARED forecasts that market revenue for these display-based formats will be £13.7 million in 2009 and will continue to show strong growth for at least the next five years.
Between 1 percent and 10 percent of Web site traffic is now generated from a mobile device – and it is going to increase – so it’s important for all brands need to consider how they address mobile visitors. If the Web site is not optimized for mobile, the visitor will receive a substandard experience that might deter them from visiting again. However many smaller brands have yet to consider mobile.

Do campaigns tend to be mobile-only or cross-media?
The most successful digital campaigns combine mobile with other media – Internet particularly. Research from Lightspeed into consumer behavior shows that 22 percent of smartphone users will respond immediately to a mobile marketing campaign, but 60 percent of smartphone users would not respond directly via the mobile, preferring to wait until they are back at their PC to find out more. This highlights the importance of supporting any mobile activity online.

What are the most popular mobile destinations in the UK?
According to December 2009 figures from The GSMA and comScore, in partnership with operators O2, Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and 3UK:

Top 10 UK Mobile Internet Sites Dec-2009* Source: GSMA Mobile Media Metrics
Total Unique Visitors (000) Total Pages Viewed (000) Total Minutes (000)
Total Mobile Internet Audience 15,947 Total Mobile Internet Audience 6,659,428 Total Mobile Internet Audience 4,792,411 4,986 2,635,771 2,156,886
Google Sites 4,567 Google Sites 894,273 Google Sites 395,576
Telefonica Mobile Networks 3,731 Orange Sites 252,294 Microsoft Sites 165,725
Orange Sites 3,553 Apple Inc. 177,648 Orange Sites 138,529
Vodafone Group 3,310 AOL (inc. Bebo) 158,988 AOL (inc. Bebo) 106,446
Yahoo! Sites 1,995 Vodafone Group 135,003 Apple Inc. 104,118
BBC Sites 1,851 BBC Sites 104,303 Vodafone Group 89,126
Microsoft Sites 1,639 Microsoft Sites 103,566 BBC Sites 83,614
Apple Inc. 1,525 eBay 95,662 Flirtomatic 54,503
Nokia 1,147 Flirtomatic 92,654 Yahoo! Sites 48,685

See The insider’s guide to mobile Web marketing in:

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