Trends in the mobile sector in 2010

The 2010 Mobile Year in Review published by comScore highlights trends in the mobile sector over the past year. In this article we look at the key trends and discuss their relevance to the advertising industry.

Increase in full web browsing capability providers more opportunities for advertisers

By the end of 2010 nearly half (48%) of U.S. Phone owners and 61% of EU5 phone owners could browse the full web.

Graph showing share of mobiles with full browsing capability

Advertisers are increasingly using the mobile web as platform to reach consumers. Consumers are using the mobile web to make purchases, request more information about a product or service, watch videos and check out products. Whilst the mobile web provides advertisers with more opportunities to reach consumers, mobile technology is becoming increasingly complicated with more than 60 different browser versions being deployed across mobile handsets.

No surprises as smartphone adoption increases

Last year, more and more smartphone devices were introduced in both the U.S. And Europe. The UK showed a strong trend in smartphone adoption at 34.3% up from 21% the previous year. US smartphone adoption stood at 27% at the end of 2010, up from 16.8% the previous year. Android gained significant market share in 2010 passing Apple in terms of the number of devices.

Smartphone Adoption by Market

Smartphone user demographics vary by market. In Europe, where the smartphone market is more developed, the demographic is older, while in the US, the reverse is true.

Smartphones provide a platform for advertisers to engage consumers by delivering a mix of in-application advertising and branded mobile apps providing utility and/or entertainment. The use of social networks on smartphones have also provided a boost for advertisers.

Japanese mobile market is one of the most mature

By December 2010 Japan’s mobile audience reached nearly 100 million users with over 75% using connected media far, surpassing the U.S. And Europe.

A demographic analysis showed mobile media consumption to be more balanced across age segments and gender in Japan compared to the U.S. and Europe.

Social networking and retail content on the rise

Smartphone adoption and unlimited data plans are just two factors driving content consumption on mobile devices. Social networking was the fastest growing category among U.S. Subscribers followed by classifieds then online retail sites.

In Europe the fastest three growing categories were auction sites, shopping guides and general reference.

Growing Mobile Content Categories in U.S.Growing Mobile Content Categories in EU5

Mobile users can access content in two ways: browsing the mobile web or through applications. Despite applications receiving a lot of media attention in 2010, application usage is still slightly behind browser usage. However, the activities are not mutually exclusive. Most of the mobile web audience use both browsing and apps to access content.

More than half of Japanese mobile subscribers use their browser and accessed applications in December 2010, far surpassing the U.S. and Europe. U.S. users were most likely to access social networking sites or blogs in their mobile (24.7%), followed by Japanese users (19.3%) and then Europeans (18%).

Use of the mobile wallet set to increase

Using mobile devices in place of credit and debit cards for in-person purchases is starting to gain momentum in the U.S. and Europe. In Japan, where the mobile market is more mature, 9.8 million mobile users made a purchase using their mobile wallet in December 2010 accounting for nearly 10 of mobile subscribers.

Mobile advertising continues to grow but faces challenges

Although mobile advertising is still in its infancy compared to television, radio, print and PC internet, 2010 saw a continued growth as more advertisers recognised the vast reach of this platform. In the U.S. the number of products advertised via mobile has grown by 150% in the past two years. However, there is still a need for consistent metrics and simplified trading environments to accelerate this growth.

There are many opportunities for advertisers to reach consumers via mobile marketing from banner advertising to application ads along with location-based services. However, the vast range of devices, platforms and technology provides a significant challenge for advertisers in the deployment and measurement of their ads.