Google Latin America

MMA: Brands are underestimating mobile opportunities in Latin America, says Telefonica’s global ad sales chief


By Jessica Davies, News Editor

November 11, 2013 | 3 min read

Brands are underestimating the mobile ad opportunities in Latin America, a continent in which mobile consumption is rocketing, according to Telefonica’s director of global ad sales Simon Birkenhead.

Speaking at the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) forum in London today, for which The Drum is media partner, Birkenhead said brands must look to tap into the mobile market in Latin America, where consumers have a more welcoming attitude to mobile ads than those in Europe or North America.

The number of people using smartphones across Latin America is set to double by 2017, while 38 per cent of Latin Americans are positive towards mobile ads, compared to 11 per cent in Europe and 19 per cent in North America, according to Birkenhead.

“Mobile advertising in Latin America is expected to grow faster than any other region, because of the cultural attitude to mobile advertising and people using their phones. But there are still a lot of myths to dispel.

“Marketers presume that Latin America is not ready for mobile advertising because it hasn’t taken up online advertising as much – but that’s not the case, the audience is ready for mobile,” he said.

He also said that a mobile-first strategy is even more important for brands looking to branch into the ad space in Latin America.

Mobile internet penetration is currently about 20 per cent in Latin America, but this is set to change “dramatically” in the coming years, according to Birkenhead.

“By 2015 about 35 per cent of internet users will be mobile only. That’s very different to Europe where everyone uses more of a mix [of devices]. Many don’t have broadband at home so their first experience will be mobile,” he said.

He also said that that the current land-grab occurring in the programmatic space, best illustrated by the increasingly complex number of suppliers depicted in the well-known lumarscape, has not reached Latin America.

“These companies haven’t even started launching in Latin America yet and it is likely that the winners of this battleground in Europe will be the ones that launch there, and the result is that it will get mobile ad tech right first time,” he added.

He also agreed with earlier MMA speaker – Google’s director of mobile and social ad sales Ian Carrington – who said the role of mobile is not being properly recognised in the overall path to purchase, which means it is losing out on necessary investment.

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