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New IAB survey shows that consumers buying on mobile more than ever, ads and social trigger interest


By Kyle O'Brien, Creative Works Editor

September 27, 2016 | 7 min read

Three-quarters of smartphone and tablet users said they have purchased a product or service on their devices in the past six months. This from a recent in-depth survey by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) titled “Mobile Commerce: A Global Perspective.”

The in-depth survey of mobile users in 19 countries found that mobile ads and social media can trigger interest in buying and can help with product discovery. It also found that those who use a mobile wallet make mobile purchases more frequently than average mobile shoppers.

23 per cent of mobile purchasers buy on mobile devices every week, found the study. Users in Turkey (44 per cent) and China (42 per cent) reported the greatest percentage of their total monthly purchases on smartphones or tablets. Those in the UK, Singapore and Australia said they make a third or more of purchases on mobile screens.

For those in the ad world, this shows that mobile advertising is working and translating into sales. 76 per cent of mobile purchasers said that they had engaged with a mobile ad in the last six months. On average, 33 per cent clicked on the ad to find out more information, while 28 per cent clicked to visit the advertisers’ websites, and 21 per cent clicked to purchase. Brazil, Canada, Colombia, the UK, and the US reported the highest levels of clicking to purchase.

Mobile wallets translate to more sales

The report showed that credit/debit cards on mobile web and online payment services are the most popular payment methods (40 per cent and 37 per cent, respectively).

Mobile wallet users are the most heavily engaged in mobile commerce, purchasing more frequently on mobile (36 per cent weekly vs. 23 per cent) than average mobile shoppers. In addition, they are more likely to engage with mobile ads (82 per cent interacted vs. 76 per cent). Driven by the ease of purchase, 18 per cent have used a mobile wallet for mobile purchases in the past six months. At 47 per cent, mobile wallet usage for purchases on smartphones and tablets is strongest in China, followed by Norway (42 per cent), the U.K. (24 per cent), and Japan (20 per cent). Online and off, mobile wallet users have leveraged the technology to pay for a range of items, including:

  • Mobile app downloads or updates (43 per cent)
  • Digital content, such as films and music (42 per cent)
  • Physical products ordered from a website or app (41 per cent)
  • Food or drink in a shop, cafe, or bar (40 per cent)

57 per cent of mobile purchasers surveyed said that they have been buying on mobile devices for over a year, with 28 per cent making their first mobile purchase in the last six months and Austria, Peru and Colombia being the key new adopter markets.

“We asked about various types of payment methods on mobile such as mobile wallet services like Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay; and specific online payment services such as PayPal, Venmo, QuickPay. Consumers can also use retailers’ and brands’ mobile websites and mobile apps to pay for products or services directly. So far, the most used payment method is via mobile web,” said Anna Bager, senior vice president, mobile and video, IAB.

Bager said that the IAB study didn’t track adoption from prior years, but she cited a study from Business Insider that projected increased volume in mobile wallet usage in the US of 80 per cent from 2015 to 2020.

“The IAB research shows that mobile wallet users are heavier mobile purchasers and more engaged mobile purchasers. They buy on mobile more frequently than average mobile purchasers and they are more likely to interact with a mobile ad and feel more satisfied and optimistic about their experience. Brands and marketers need to court this special group of early adopters to continue driving the growth of mobile purchases. Retailers in particular should work towards ensuring their store locations, mobile websites and apps are mobile wallet friendly, integrating their point of sale systems with compatible mobile wallet technologies, and creating a consumer experience that is seamless and secure,” said Bager.

Mobile purchasing continues to rise

So what’s leading to the rise of mobile purchasing? The convenience, time saving and price were cited by 80 per cent of those polled, and 62 per cent said they planned to make more mobile purchases in the next six months.

“Many factors drive the adoption of mobile purchase, from the increased adoption of smartphones and tablets worldwide to the improvement of mobile internet access through wireless data and WiFi services which allow consumers to research and purchase products and services on mobile devices, wherever and whenever they want. The growth of mobile advertising, including search, display and mobile video, has also helped drive increased mobile purchase behavior,” said Bager.

Social media also plays an important role. 60 per cent of mobile purchasers from around the world saying they often discover products and services to buy on social platforms. More than one-third (36 per cent) of mobile purchasers leverage social media to share their mobile purchase experience.

“Pressing the ‘buy’ button on mobile devices is now a regular occurrence the world over,” said Bager. “Marketers and media agencies need to fully embrace smartphones and tablets as a critical pathway for all shopping activities and increase investment if they want to build meaningful relationships with mobile consumers, driving them from discovery to purchase.”

Advertisers have been courting the mobile world for the last few years, and the advertising has finally hit its stride, according to the IAB.

“The great thing about mobile advertising is when consumers click on a mobile ad and make a purchase, the impact of that ad can be directly attributed. To help make a mobile advertising more effective in driving purchase, it must be relevant, serving up the right message in the right context to meets consumers’ needs and wants. For example, with the consumer’s permission, mobile location data can provide additional context to help brands deliver mobile ads with greater relevance,” she said.

But advertisers can still do a better job connecting mobile users, said Bager.

“To better tap the customer’s journey between social content experiences and mobile purchases, brands and marketers can partner with various social platforms to facilitate direct buy buttons (such as Amazon’s one-click payment system), and to create a seamless social-to-purchase experience. We also know that social is an important platform for the discovery of products and services and that consumers may be open to sharing their mobile purchase experiences with friends on social media. Brands and marketers should encourage their customers’ post-purchase sharing and recommendations where possible, especially in the context of loyalty and reward marketing,” she stated.

Ways to bring the consumer closer to the purchase include serving relevant mobile ads in the right moment and in the right context, ensuring that their mobile apps and websites are fast-loading and provide streamlined access to product and service information.

“Google, for instance has found that brands like Walmart have experienced increases of up to 2 per cent by reducing their mobile web site page load time by four seconds. In a nutshell, brands and marketers need to be hyper-aware of the user experience on mobile, to minimize frictions and glitches, to minimize clicks and enable seamless purchases, to make consumers’ lives easier, to provide convenience, value and security,” said Bager.

In a nutshell, Bager said what we have learned from the global mobile commerce experience is that mobile messaging apps are increasingly serving as a mobile purchase platform especially popular in Asia.

“It captures exactly where the consumers are and provides them a seamless experience to meet their daily needs. Marketers and brands in the US have started experimenting with major messaging platforms on this front and we expect to see more mobile commerce ingratiation within messaging apps,” she concluded.

New IAB survey shows that consumers buying on mobile more than ever
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