Mobile shopping, ads to accelerate in APAC

Some 80 percent of mobile Web users in Asia-Pacific made purchases via devices and market is set to expand further, especially in mobile Web-only markets, as region's smartphone penetration grows, reveals new report.

Mobile shopping in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to continue its growth as more consumers make online purchases via their devices, creating lucrative opportunities for mobile advertising and further underscoring the sustainability of this business model, according to a new report Tuesday.

The InMobi Mobile Shopping and Mobile Commerce (m-commerce) study, conducted globally between February and March, determined that 80 percent of mobile Web users in Asia-Pacific made purchases via their mobile devices. Conducted by InMobi, a global mobile advertising network, and in partnership with the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), the survey covered 14 countries including five Asian markets: Singapore, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Some 43 percent of mobile purchases in Asia were for digital content--specifically, music, movies and games--making it the top category among mobile shoppers in the region. Consumer electronics ranked in second, at 24 percent, followed by entertainment tickets at 15 percent, travel at 12 percent, and apparel at11 percent.

Users in every age group below 65 years preferred to shop via their mobile device over the PC, the report stated. This preference was particularly evident among mobile users aged between 19 and 24 years, where 44 percent indicated so, as well as those between 25 and 34 years, where 41 percent said likewise.

Furthermore, even non-smartphone users preferred shopping on mobile devices. This was a key finding because developing markets such as Indonesia and Malaysia were "mobile-first markets", where users surfed the Web only from their mobile device, noted James Lamberti, vice president of global research and marketing at InMobi.

"We see mobile innovation and adoption happening at a faster pace in emerging markets because mobile, not PCs, is the way they consume digital information, and non-smartphone users are even more likely to not have PCs," Lamberti told ZDNet Asia in a phone interview.

He explained that mobile shopping is gaining traction "much, much faster" than PC online shopping not only due to the ease of doing transactions via mobile, but also due to consumers' familiarity today with the digital purchasing experience.

In addition, the study found that the majority of respondents were "very satisfied with their mobile shopping experience". About 56 percent rated their experience as "good", while 18 percent said it was "excellent" and 22 percent noted it as "average". Only 2 percent described mobile shopping experience as "poor".

Explosion in mobile advertising
Given the statistics, Lamberti pointed out that mobile shopping is not only "commonplace" but "accelerating" in Asia. Mobile users will conduct more transactions more often as the industry develops, he added, noting this also spells huge opportunities for mobile advertising.

In fact, in each product category, over half of respondents said mobile advertising encouraged them to make purchases. The survey also highlighted mobile advertising as an important content discovery channel particularly for digital content shoppers, with 45 percent of respondents describing mobile ads as "informative and helpful".

Lamberti underscored the potential of mobile advertising in Asia where it is "definitely sustainable" in every market.

He added that the growth for mobile ads will be "phenomenal" in the region due to two underlying dynamics. First, the increasing smartphone penetration in Asia, especially for Android devices, will make it "easier and quicker" for consumers to shop via the mobile platform. Second, the advancement of technology will allow for more creativity, providing rich media ad experiences across all mobile phones, Lamberti said.

The InMobi executive also predicted that the adoption of mobile advertising among retailers, brands and manufacturers would "ramp up much faster" than the rate of mobile shopping. He said "compelling, engaging creative ad formats are now available at scale in Asian markets" and there is "heightened" level of interests among brands and agencies.

These will drive advertising spend in the mobile space as advertisers see the platform as another channel to drive and influence any form of commerce, whether at the physical retail store or e-commerce site, he added.

Mobile shoppers prioritize ease, convenience
Asked if the recent uproar over the collection of location data of Apple iPhone and Android users had heightened security and privacy issues and hamper mobile advertising, Lamberti said while it was an important area for stakeholders in the market, the "average customer is not thinking [about it] everyday".

He noted that much discussion today about mobile have revolved around hyper-targeting or location-based targeting. "[But], what consumers are comfortable with is good ol' fashioned brand building concepts, like a cool ad or an entertaining game," he said. "What consumers care about mobile is that it's easy and convenient. It's not about walking by a store and having a coupon land in my phone."

InMobi's positive findings on mobile shopping in Asia echo that of another survey from PayPal and Nielsen, which revealed that mobile shopping in Singapore was still nascent but offered significant growth potential.