Latin America ripe for mobile marketing growth

Latin America is the world's fastest growing mobile advertising market, with its consumers adopting a mobile-first attitude and typically more willing to share personal data than their counterparts in Europe and North America.

That was one of the key messages expressed by Telefonica Digital's director of global advertising sales Simon Birkenhead during his presentation at the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) EMEA forum on Monday, which also highlighted how 35% of internet users in the region will be accessing the web solely via smartphones by 2015.

By 2017, Telefonica predicts that there will be more people in Latin America accessing the internet via mobile than fixed devices, which would suggest there is significant mobile marketing potential on which brands of all shapes and sizes can capitalise in the coming years.

The implication for brands is that they must adopt a mobile-first approach when it comes to targeting potential customers, according to Birkenhead, who suggested that companies without a mobile-optimised site will simply not be visible to the majority of consumers in Latin America by the end of the decade.

But the ad sales director indicated that there are a number of myths that need to be dispelled if businesses are going to conquer the Latin American market. He indicated that the perception that the region is not ready to receive information via mobile due to the limited usage of other technologies is not correct, with statistics displayed by Telefonica showing that the average mobile user spends 55 minutes a day on their device compared to 42 minutes on a global basis.

Smartphone take-up is still low, with the countries boasting the highest levels of smartphone penetration Chile, Argentina and Mexico, still some way behind Europe and North America in terms of number of users. However, Birkenhead says that this should not deter brands because SMS advertising to feature phones is still a very useful way of conveying a message to consumers.

"Feature phones are used more over smartphones, but SMS marketing can get some great results," he explained.

One example offered was that of Pizzeria Monte Verde restaurant in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which scrapped leaflet marketing off the back of a 300% sales increase, generated by a mobile marketing campaign.

Telefonica said that consumers in Latin America – and the Asia-Pacific region – are much more open to sharing data than shoppers in Europe, with its research partly attributing this to a growing middle class that is keen to find deals for products they once could only aspire to purchase. As a result, it arguably makes the continent an intriguing target for both mobile advertising solution providers and brands that are keen to adopt a mobile-first marketing strategy.

Birkenhead rounded off his presentation with some key "takeaways for mobile success", offering advice to any businesses looking to explore Latin America as an area for growth in the near future.

He said: "Think mobile first; test and learn now; don't ignore feature phones; and strive for contextual relevance."

The MMA is an association partner of RBTE 2014.

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