By Stefano Hatfield | Branded Content Editor

February 9, 2022 | 5 min read

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​The pandemic has catalyzed behavior shifts in the South East Asia (SEA) region, which have led to a permanent change in how consumers engage with smartphones – and brands everywhere will need to adapt to what is clearly now the mobile-first consumer in South East Asia.

Future-proofing your brand for Southeast Asia's mobile-first consumer

Future-proofing your brand for Southeast Asia's mobile-first consumer

This was the key insight in a session at The Drum’s Predictions 2022 Festival in which Rishi Bedi, vice-president and general manager of SEA, Japan and Korea at InMobi, made five confident predictions based on the “humungous” increase in consumers using smartphones during the pandemic; 40 million new internet users in South East Asia, with the total number of mobile connections now touching 900 million.

There was “a huge jump” in time spent on those devices (five hours plus per day). And, a record 4 billion+ mobile app downloads happened in Q3 alone. Almost 70% of South East Asia consumers use smartphones to research and explore new products or services. The same number made a purchase on the device, almost 50% using the mobile wallet.

“That is huge”, said Bedi. So huge, that it inspired him to make five key predictions.

1. The convergence of the ‘three Cs’

The evolving consumer media, browsing, and shopping habits point towards the convergence of context, content, and commerce:

Context - If brands spend time and invest in the right tech stack to analyze mobile signals, they can easily understand the context of the consumer: where they are, what locations they’re browsing, what apps or sites, their demographic, location patterns, what stores they visit. Are they gamers? Video consumers?... so on and so forth.

Content - Brands will need to make building immersive consumer experiences on mobile a part of their DNA. Already, there are innovative creative executions, which enable a combination of video and gamified engagement within the same creative work. These will be critical to inspire action and drive consideration.

Commerce – With consumers making most purchases online, brands will need to deploy frictionless ways for them to make purchases in that instantaneous moment of truth. The right online to online or online to offline experience will be critical for brands to drive growth.

2. ​​​​Gaming

Gaming is fast emerging as the gateway to the metaverse. In the pandemic, the time consumers spent gaming on smartphones doubled. Bedi added that gender was now no barrier in gaming, claiming there were almost the same number of males and females on gaming platforms. Initially, this was thought to be a temporary phenomenon.

“Now, when we compare data from 2020 and 2021, we see this is a permanent shift,” Bedi said. “More than double the gaming users that got onboarded, are still spending time in gaming platforms. Consumers on gaming platforms have already experienced avatars and connecting with people across various geographies. (And) there are various elements of VR and AR.” Therefore, mastering gaming advertising on mobile would be the first step to build engagements and experiences for the metaverse.

3. Purpose

“Brands long considered the four P's: product, price, place and promotion as the most important pillars of marketing. Purpose supersedes them all,” Bedi argued. Brands should reconsider their role in society and how they engage with consumers authentically. Brand messaging needs to be purpose-driven. Brands would then not only engage with consumers, but create real, meaningful connections.

4. Cookieless Personalization

Advertisers find it challenging to understand their audiences. “There's too much data to cultivate, process, and later activate,” Bedi said. Meanwhile, consumers want brands to engage with them in a personalized manner. “As long as brands are transparent about how data will be handled, and what value exchange will be created, consumers do not have any problem,” he suggested. “There will be more and more usage of deterministic audiences, built on the attributes and traits from online and offline behaviors of consumers.”

5. Mobile-first creative

Brands need to create, not iterate on assets from other channels when it comes to mobile. “Smartphones provide a plethora of opportunities to customize creative strategy,” Bedi said. Various environments and creative formats and the combination of rich media, video, AR and VR will help brands activate different elements of the smartphone: touch, gyroscope, camera and other features, to constantly enhance consumer experiences.

These five confident predictions will make a seismic difference and are already coming to fruition. Each have readily actionable change attached to them: adding commerce to context and content on mobile; viewing gaming as the gateway to the metaverse; creating campaigns with purpose for more meaningful connections; moving from cookies to deterministic data; designing creative from a mobile first perspective. And, Bedi is adamant that the changes in consumer behavior that led to each of these predictions were here to stay.

Watch Bedi’s full presentation from The Drum Predictions 2022 Festival here.

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InMobi is the leading provider of content, monetization and marketing technologies that help fuel growth for industries around the world. The company’s end-to-end advertising software platform, connected content and commerce experiences activate audiences, drive real connections and diversify revenue for businesses everywhere. With deep expertise and unique reach in mobile, InMobi is a trusted and transparent technology partner for marketers, content creators and businesses of all kinds. Incorporated in Singapore, InMobi maintains a large presence in San Francisco, London and Bangalore and has operations in New York, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Delhi, Mumbai, Beijing, Shanghai, Jakarta, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, Melbourne, Seoul, Tokyo, and Dubai. To learn more, visit

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