Brands in Asia suffer from mobile strategy disconnect, reveals new survey

A new study, conducted by Warc in partnership with the Mobile Marketing Association on behalf of the Festival of Media Asia, today highlighted the fundamental disconnect facing marketers today. Brands in Asia-Pacific are struggling to develop formal mobile strategies, putting the future effectiveness of their marketing programmes at risk, even as they realise the power and potential of mobile.

The study, conducted in February 2013, was designed to gauge the attitudes of client-side advertisers and marketing services agencies towards mobile marketing. The survey gained 225 responses from 18 different markets in Asia-Pacific.

It found that an overwhelming majority of Asian marketers believe mobile will play a major part in next year: 90% of respondents, including 90% of client advertiser respondents, rated mobile as ‘very important’ or ‘quite important’ to their 2013 plans. However, only 29% of brand advertiser respondents admitted they currently have a formal strategy for mobile. Among agency respondents, 42% reported that the majority of their clients had no mobile strategy.

“The study underlines the marketing industry’s uncertainty when it comes to the rapidly expanding mobile channel,” said Edward Pank, Managing Director at Warc Asia Pacific. “Both brands and agencies in Asia recognise that mobile will be an important platform for reaching consumers. But the medium is so new and developing so rapidly, that many brands are still working out how best to use it. It’s clear that there’s a lot of work to be done in this area in 2013.”

“There’s no question now that mobile marketing will be an integral part of campaigns moving forwards,” said Rohit Dadwal, Managing Director, Mobile Marketing Association Asia Pacific.“The tools and technology are out there, but brands and agencies have to be willing to take risks in order to make the most of the opportunity.”

The survey asked which types of mobile marketing Asia-Pacific marketers were most interested in this year, and which they expected to be important in five years’ time. The top responses for 2013 mobile programmes were app development (cited by 49% of respondents), mobile display (48%) and mobile-based social marketing (46%).

“This survey bears out what we already suspect, which is that mobility is something that marketers desperately want to understand better,” said Founder of the Festival of Media and CEO of C Squared, Charlie Crowe. “In response to industry demand, this year’s Festival of Media Asia will be examining the different facets of mobility: national mobility, social mobility, and more.”

App development and mobile-based social marketing are still expected to be top priorities in 2018 (cited by 46% and 44%, respectively). But mobile display is expected to be less important – just 36% expect it to be a priority in five years’ time. Interestingly, mobile-based content is expected to grow in importance over the period: 32% rate it as a priority this year, but 40% expect it to be a priority in five years. Overall, expenditure in mobile is growing, but not exponentially so. Only 38% of respondents reported mobile spend growth of more than 25%.

Among the study’s other findings:

  • Samsung is the most admired brand for its mobile presence. It was named as an innovative mobile marketer by 10% of respondents, followed by Coca-Cola (9%), Nike, McDonald’s and Starbucks (4% each).
  • Japan (16%) and South Korea (15%) are viewed as the most innovative nations for mobile marketing in Asia-Pacific. Interestingly, China was in third place (11%), ahead of Singapore (9%).
  • The lack of skills in mobile marketing is viewed as the biggest obstacle to growth in the region: 33% of respondents cited this as a factor.
  • Mobile is most often used in conjunction with other digital media (41% report this as a frequent combination), followed by TV (39%).


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