However, this figure is set to grow more than 300 per cent in 2008 and be sustained into next year driven by the growing consumer take-up of 3G data services coupled with attractive campaign pricing to entice advertisers.
The Australia Next-Generation Mobile Advertising Market 2007-2011 study from Frost & Sullivan is the most comprehensive examination of the local mobile display and search advertising market to date, involving interviews with 213 senior management-level executives with control or insight into marketing budgets and strategy. It also includes interviews with major publisher groups, mobile network operators and mobile advertising platform vendors.
The research highlights, however, that sustained growth of mobile advertising into 2009 will depend on a continued reduction in mobile operator data charges, the development of sophisticated mobile advertising offerings from more organisations, and enhanced technological capabilities and integration across the mobile advertising value chain.
At the same time, continued uncertainty about the mobile advertising medium among advertisers is still restraining its popularity. Indeed, mobile advertising spend currently is mainly driven by the media and entertainment, and banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) industries which together contributed more than 50 per cent of revenues in 2007.
Currently, the bulk of mobile advertising spend is based on campaign trials in partnership with mobile carriers and content publishers. This is concentrated in display (banners and video) accounting for 91 per cent of total revenues. Concurrently, search advertising on mobile phones remains very low, with most consumer activity still concentrated in the free-to-access, on-deck directories within carrier portals.
Frost & Sullivan's research shows that three main forces have now come together to create a positive market environment for rapid growth in mobile advertising marketing spend.
Early leaders in the mobile advertising space, including Vodafone, Hutchison 3, Sensis MediaSmart, ninemsn and Fairfax Digital have now reached a stage where they can offer marketers a proven next-generation mobile proposition.
In addition, the number of 3G handset subscribers is expected to mushroom with the corresponding adoption of mobile data services. Frost & Sullivan estimates there are now more than six million 3G handset subscribers (services in operation) in Australia and this will grow rapidly over the next two years as operators phase out their non-3G handset offerings. Adoption of Apple's iPhone is also expected to have very strong impact in the usage of mobile data services.
Finally, early success by advertisers deploying mobile advertising in their marketing mix, particularly with SMS/MMS broadcast and response campaigns, is driving further take-up and experimentation.
"2007 marked a watershed year in mobile advertising with the medium achieving a successful proof-of-concept stage. Indeed, advertisers which have adopted mobile advertising show a clear propensity to increase their spend with the medium. They are organisations which typically have large advertising budgets overall and have been wowed by the rich campaign ROI metrics available from mobile. At the same time, they typically have a strong commitment to digital advertising and are now looking for even more sophisticated mobile inventory," said Darryl Nelson, Frost & Sullivan Senior Research Manager, Digital Media, Asia Pacific.
The research identified Vodafone as the clear market leader in 2007 for mobile display and search advertising capturing nearly 40 per cent market share.
The Australia Next-Generation Mobile Advertising Market 2007-2011 study forms part of Frost & Sullivan's Digital Media Advertising Program. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants. Interviews with the press are available.
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