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2016 Analyst Predictions: Mobile Edition

by | Jan 20, 2016 | Blog, Mobile-Social

At the end of 2015, we released our annual analyst predictions for the coming year. In addition to the full report, we also gave a sneak peek of the top ten predictions from across BIA/Kelsey coverage areas. And we got the chance to unpack them further at BIA/Kelsey Next (see the full video here).

Now it’s time for another release. Below I’ve included the full slate of predictions in the mobile category. It’s a transformative time at the intersection of mobile and local, including mobile payments, app-based discovery, social media and deep linking to name a few.

See the rest below and stay tuned for our coverage throughout the year of how these predictions are panning out (right or wrong…).

1. U.S. mobile ad revenues surpass $29 billion.

U.S. mobile ad revenues will grow from $23 billion this year to more than $29 billion by 2020. Within that total, location targeted mobile ad spend will grow from $8.5 billion (37 percent) to $11.3 billion (39 percent). Overall ad market growth will continue to be driven by Google (roughly 50 percent mobile market share) and Facebook (78 percent of its ad revenues attributed to mobile). Both companies continue to evolve their mobile ad models and innovate with new formats, including native ad units and more push-based local discovery. Ad blocking technologies have been mostly overblown, and will have only a minor impact due to applicability to a narrow portion of mobile advertising (in-browser banner ads for iOS users who download and activate ad blockers).

2. Mobile payments and beacons face a moment of truth.

Utility-oriented features will be the defining success factor for mobile payments. So far, mobile payments have been held back by a classic “solution in search of a problem” mindset. A few companies have broken that mold with features that engender real utility. That includes skipping lines (i.e. Starbucks) or saving money. We’ll see in-aisle payments develop as a retail payment method due to its ability to skip checkout aisles. The winners in mobile payments in 2016 will be those that adopt these principles, as opposed to a promise of simply a lighter wallet. What’s at stake is finally bringing offline attribution to reality, with big implications for tracking ROI and efficacy in local advertising. Beacons, meanwhile, will stumble for consumer adoption due to opt-in friction at the app and settings level. Adoption will grow if beacon engagement is integrated more seamlessly for invisible or “background” functionality at the OS level. That means the next move is on Apple and Google.

3. Facebook emerges as a giant in local marketing and offline attribution.

Facebook is a sleeping giant in the classic local dilemma of connecting online and offline worlds. Because it has 1.3 billion signed-in mobile users that bounce around the physical/offline world, tracking behavior will become a key piece of the online/offline attribution puzzle. The company has taken steps in this direction through extrapolation methodologies with data partners like Datalogix. The next step is to track directly via mobile signed-in users. Facebook will close the loop on a larger scale by subsidizing beacons throughout retail and SMB locations. This ties in nicely with Facebook’s effort to onboard local businesses to Facebook Pages and other SMB-geared products such as Local Awareness Ads, Lead Ads and its new “Local Insights” analytics tool.

4. Social buy buttons and messaging apps emerge as local commerce engines.

Social media will continue to evolve from a branding medium to more of a commerce-enabled direct response medium. The proliferation of “buy” buttons will continue throughout social apps like Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These buttons are built with mobile in mind, in that they reduce friction for smaller screen experiences, and they’re popular with increasingly buying-empowered millennials. But because offline commerce is so much larger than e-commerce, these buttons will increasingly drive local commerce, such as Facebook’s “call” buttons, and buttons to message a local business. Speaking of which, messaging apps will grow as platforms for a wide range of commerce functionality, as opposed to just social use cases. This can include messaging directly with businesses for service questions, or deeper functionality to buy, reserve or schedule service. The leading indicator for this trend is seen in Asian markets where WeChat and others are doing just this. In the U.S. it will start with larger businesses and take a few more years to be adopted by SMBs.

5. Call commerce surpasses $1 Trillion (with a “T”).

Phone calls to businesses from mobile devices will surpass 100 billion in 2016, and calls overall (from mobile and landline) will have a part in influencing more than $1 trillion in U.S. consumer spending. This is about 15 percent of the $7 trillion currently spent in the U.S. on offline products and services. The size of this opportunity will compel a larger swath of advertisers to adopt call tracking and analytics platforms – with most of this growth coming from national brands. The winners in this increasingly crowded space will be those that can most accurately attribute conversions to advertising tactics. Call analytics platforms will also improve with the overall evolution of speech to text processing. Call tracking and analytics will broaden beyond marketing attribution to be a key piece of operational functions like call center profitability, customer service and CRM.