Mobile marketing in Africa is an idea whose time has truly come

Monday February 22 2010

By MOSES KEMIBARO

The mobile web East Africa conference held in Nairobi recently tackled interesting aspects of the African mobile communications sector, especially its commercial and social spheres.

Over the past five years, the use of mobile phones in the continent has grown by 550 per cent.

Three in 10 Africans now have access to a mobile phone but statistics point to Africa emerging as one of the largest mobile phone markets.

According to Admob, the largest mobile advertisement network in the world, Africa generated about 750 million mobile ad impressions for them last month.

Incidentally, Admob was acquired by Google last year for $750 million, which shows just how much interest mobile marketing is building up.

Given these figures, African businesses must start marketing via the mobile channel. For one, mobile marketing is inexpensive and easy to use.

A world of possibilities

By using a mobile ad network and a mobile landing page for offers or promotions, it is possible to be up and running in a matter of minutes through more accessible “mobile media” such as the SMS and the MMS.

Mobile marketing is also highly targeted and personalised, meaning a brand can reach a user based on factors such as physical location, the mobile network and even the specific mobile device or model.

Mobile marketing boasts high levels of interactivity, such that mobile ad campaigns lead to users instantly making a call, sending a message or downloading content.

Even more impressive is the precision with which mobile ad campaigns can be tracked and monitored, down to clicks, conversions and revenues.

The campaigns are adjusted “on the fly” to yield better results from the rich data.

When one considers the success of mobile money in Kenya, with Safaricom’s M-Pesa transfer service having over 9 million subscribers to date, it is plain that the combination of mobile marketing and mobile money will lead to mobile commerce (m-commerce) taking off.

Mobile marketing is bound to evolve over time into something totally different. But its marketing is more or less certain, given that the mobile phone is the number one communication device in Africa.