Mobile Ad Spend To Reach $240 Billion In 2020

Mobile consumer spend will exceed $380 billion and advertisers will invest over $240 billion in ad spend in 2020, according to App Annie’s “The State of Mobile in 2020” report which explores 2019 mobile macro-trends and offers marketing insights for the year ahead.

In 2019, consumers spent $120 billion globally in app stores for a record 204 billion worldwide app downloads. The number of downloads, which excludes re-installs and app updates, has grown 45 percent in three years since 2016 and six percent year over year. India, Brazil and Indonesia have largely fueled downloads while download growth in mature markets like the US, Japan and Korea has leveled off. Still, 2019 downloads in the US alone topped 12.3 billion, followed by 2.5 billion in Japan and 2 billion in South Korea.

Consumers spent 35 percent more time in mobile, 3.7 hours daily, in 2019 than the previous two years, with a heavy focus on gaming. Games now account for 72 percent of all app store spend. Non-gaming apps excelled via in-app subscriptions as 97 percent of non-gaming consumer spend in the top 250 apps was a result of apps with subscriptions. Three out of four top non-gaming apps—Tinder, Netflix and Tencent Video—use subscription to propel app store spend.

Given mobile games in 2019 saw 25 percent more spend than in all other gaming combined, advertisers are increasing spend on branding ad campaigns. This development is fairly new considering games have historically been used for performance advertising. Twitter’s app monetization company MoPub saw brand spend increase on video about 180 percent year over year in November 2019.

Games aren’t the only reasons consumers spent so much time on their phones—globally, consumers accessed finance apps over 1 trillion times in 2019, up 100 percent from 2017. Shoppers also contributed to the growth of mobile, with global shopping app downloads growing 20 percent from 2018 to 2019 to over 5.4 billion. Shoppers spent $33.1 billion on mobile in the US from November-December 2019, representing 40 percent of all online sales. Entertainment apps also saw a surge—globally, consumers spent 50 percent more sessions in entertainment apps in 2019 than in 2017.

As for social apps, TikTok continues to lead the way with global time spent in the short-form video app growing 210 percent year over year in 2019. Dating apps and food delivery apps also saw an increase in spend. App Annie notes that consumers spent $2.2 billion in dating apps, double what they spent in 2017. Globally, outside of China, sessions in food and drink apps grew 205 percent from 2017 to 2019 and 85 percent year over year.

Mobile will remain key for reaching young audiences as the report found Gen Z have 60 percent more sessions per user in the most popular apps when compared to Gen X and Boomers.

Mastercard Woos Digital-First Consumers With New AR App

Mastercard plans to release a new app that will allow cardholders to access their rewards via an augmented reality (AR) experience. 

Upon launching the app, cardholders must scan their Mastercard and then scan their surroundings. Doing so will present users with three interactive portals that correspond to their available benefits: experiences, everyday value and peace of mind. Tapping the peace of mind portal, for example, will bring to life a virtual spa in which users can look around and discover benefits, each represented by a relevant item. When tapping a set of golf clubs, the app will display a cardholder’s “Priceless Golf” benefits.

Creating an app that clearly communicates cardholder benefits is a surefire way for Mastercard to reach digital-first consumers, who may not be utilizing full benefits. As Mastercard notes, according to the J.D. Power 2019 US Credit Card Satisfaction Study, rewards are a main driver of consumer satisfaction with cards, but only a third of credit card holders completely understand all the benefits available to them.

“Digital first consumers are the first to explore and use technology enabled touchpoints across the entire payments journey. With the new Mastercard benefits app, these cardholders will experience an immersive and truly unique environment where every tap delivers the value and benefits of their card in a fashion never experienced before,” said Tim Sloane, vice president at Mercator Advisory Group, an independent research and advisory services firm focused on the payments industry. 

The Mastercard benefits app will launch in Q2 for iPhones, with additional regions and devices launching later this year.

Customer Experience With Jennifer Chase From SAS

During the 188th episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Jennifer Chase, senior vice president of global marketing and shared services for SAS. Chase has been with SAS for over 20 years and talks about the “secret sauce” that keeps her and other employees engaged. This episode was a part of a series of interviews conducted at the Internet Summit in Raleigh, NC.

Chase shares with us how data is helping SAS with their customer experience. She shares her experience on topics of trust, security and transparency. SAS is helping its customers see that “to do customer experience in a way that is meaningful, you have to start with customer obsession, and you have to learn all about your customer.”

Chase shares the importance of trust, noting “if you can’t create a high level of trust with your customers, you are not going to create a high level of customer experience.” She talks about the importance of instigating change before your customers are the ones to disrupt your company.

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Why Jennifer has been with SAS for more than 20 years. 01:05 
  • How SAS is helping companies with customer experience. 03:15
  • Keys for companies to make sure they are using their data appropriately. 04:59
  • How to use trust as a competitive advantage.  06:47
  • Examples of successful SAS customer experiences. 08:30
  • Five things marketers can do to “future-proof” themselves and their business. 12:21 
  • AR and VR: The future of customer experience. 15:18

Resources Mentioned:


Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.

Microsoft Bing Evangelist Christi Olson On Accessibility, Search And Voice

During the 187th episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Christi Olson, head of evangelism for Bing at Microsoft. Olson has led in-house digital marketing at teams at a number of companies for over a decade. This episode was a part of a series of interviews conducted at the Internet Summit in Raleigh, NC.

Olson, a search practitioner for 15 years, was the first full-time employee at Microsoft to manage search. She left the company to get outside experience before rejoining Microsoft in her current role.

Olson shares with us details about Bing search marketing, accessibility and the impact on SEO, voice as a search method and user interface and trust as it relates to customers. She notes, “most web developers and SEO practitioners don’t really think about accessibility first when they’re developing a site and content.”  Olson shares the importance of leveling the playing field for all people in search and discusses “why we should start thinking about it [accessibility] first and foremost and not as an after-the-fact process.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Christi’s background and journey to her current role with Bing at Microsoft. 01:12
  • Why accessibility is so critical at this moment. 02:09
  • Ranking factors and accessibility. 05:01
  • Good SEO practices to make accessibility a priority. 06:05
  • The future of voice in search. 08:00
  • What marketers should be thinking about when it comes to voice discovery. 10:22
  • The trust factor: earning customer trust for your products. 13:52 
  • Microsoft’s approach to advertising and trust. 16:10

Resources Mentioned:


Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.

As Doubt Continues To Be Cast On VR, New Devices Come To Market

From gaming, live concerts and sports, promotions and education, there’s no denying the appetite to use virtual reality and augmented reality (AR) across mediums and campaigns. Mixed reality, or XR, is a space that’s rapidly growing and expanding and it’s something we’re keeping a close eye on. 

To bubble up what’s happening in the space, we’re introducing a weekly recap of what’s developing in the XR world to better inform how we can use these current events to create stronger campaigns and be on the cutting edge of technology. Oh, yeah—it’s also pretty cool.


Phil Spencer: “Nobody’s Asking For VR

What’s Happening: Phil Spencer states that “nobody’s asking for VR” and Project Scarlett will not be focusing on VR features at launch. This is an interesting move considering Sony is moving PSVR hardware (4.2 million units sold since 2016 launch), Oculus has made huge efforts to fund and create new games built for VR (Sanzaru Games’ Asgard’s Wrath and Insomniac Game’s Stormland), Nintendo has explored with Labo VR, and Valve is getting even more into the VR game with the Index and the announce of Half-Life: Alyx.

Why It Matters: While VR may not be in a space right now where big companies like Xbox aren’t ready to jump in, there’s no doubt that they’re exploring the space. So when does one determine the right point to jump into developing console support for VR? Once we see a big win or killer app succeed (looking at you Half-Life: Alyx) this will dramatically shift the world’s perspective on the VR gaming landscape as adoption rates for VR hardware rise.


EDEN Labs Makes Snacker VR Headset For Museums, Stores

What’s Happening: The Snacker headset from EDEN Labs looks to provide opportunities for the public to experience VR in an accessible pickup and play setting. The Snacker isn’t targeting gaming, but looks to be focusing on museums, shops, and expos to provide attendees a ‘snackable’ VR experience getting first-time VR experiencers a glimpse at what the future of virtual reality has in store. The lack of straps and controllers should make it less scary for average people to give it a go.

Why It Matters: VR devices like the Snacker provide many opportunities for brands in the experiential space to look at how they can implement VR into their marketing campaigns. Additionally, marketers could identify and work with locations that support the Snacker to determine how they can get people experiencing their content in VR, while keeping in mind that many people trying this may have never used VR before.


Another AR Device Heads To Market: Nreal Light AR 

What’s Happening: The exploration of AR is still kicking strong as Nreal announces that their developer kits are now available for pre-order for $1,200. Consumer models will be coming in 2020 for $500. Looking more like sunglasses than something like google glass, the glasses feature 6DOF with inside out tracking, a 1080P display, and options available for prescription lenses with a “wide range of diopters for nearsighted users.”

Why It Matters: AR devices are continuing to diversify. Many tech companies are leaning more and more into AR. Google has AR map integration and search results, Instagram and Snapchat have AR filters, and even Apple is in the AR space.  


Users Adapt Sign Language For VR

What’s Happening: When it comes to gaming and social hangouts online, there’s no arguing that communication is key. What happens when deaf people can’t hear what’s happening? The community comes together to create a VR-adapted sign language. While current controllers don’t have as many options to support all signs in VR, this adapted version is letting users with and without hearing communicate together and it works

Why It Matters: Companies are spending more time and care on accessibility tools and features with good reason. We’ve seen gaming take a hard focus on accessibility from the Xbox Adaptive Controller to websites like caniplaythat.com focusing on accessible gaming. Tech advancements are constantly improving our lives, when it comes to building within this newer medium, we should be aware of and think about how we can integrate accessible features becoming more inclusive to everyone that might be in VR. 

Digital Advertising Alliance Introduces CCPA Tools For Publishers, Brands, Agencies

As the “Judgement Day” of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) approaches, the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) rolls-out new tools for publishers, brands, agencies and adtech in the digital advertising supply chain.

The tools from the DAA, an independent not-for-profit organization for digital advertising privacy practices, will introduce CCPA opt-out instruments, which will provide users with cross-industry control over the ways in which their personal information is being shared and sold. 

“The digital advertising ecosystem is incredibly complicated and interconnected, so we need tools that work both for individual companies and across the supply chain,” said Michael Signorelli, Partner Venable LLP and counsel to the DAA, in a press release. “Today we’re outlining the roadmap for our approach, so companies can begin taking the internal steps necessary to adapt their systems for rapid implementation with well understood and deployed technologies. Over the next few weeks, we will quickly roll out the tools, guidelines, and technological specifications needed for full adoption.”

CCPA Opt-Out Tools will be available in English and Spanish via desktop browsers, mobile web browsers and a mobile app, according to the release by DAA. The tools will include the following elements:

  • A text link and new green icon for publishers to display on their web and app-based digital properties. 
  • The text link and icon, which will take users to a publisher-hosted notice that will provide user information and control. 
  • An option to opt-out of the sale of customer personal information by any or all of the participating companies in the new DAA tools, including third parties collecting and selling personal information through the publisher’s site or app. 

It is important to note that the DAA’s tools are mainly consumer-centric and are built to provide the ability for consumers to opt-out of the sale of personal information by third-party businesses. It is publishers’ job to find their own technical instruments to meet their requirements under the DAA’s guidelines and the CCPA law, the DAA stated in the press release.

“These tools create a simple and recognizable mechanism for consumers to express their opt-out rights under the CCPA for the sale of data collected not only on any individual site, but also across sites served by third parties in the digital ecosystem that participate in the DAA tool. The tools also provide a timely implementation path for companies based on existing technologies and proven models,” said Lou Mastria, executive director of the DAA.

J.C. Penney’s AR-Enabled Campaign Lets Brides-To-Be Virtually Try On Rings

J.C. Penney is launching an augmented reality-enabled mobile ad campaign that lets brides-to-be virtually try on engagement rings to promote the retailer’s “Modern Bride” collection. The campaign is in partnership with Verizon Media, the phone company’s advertising and content unit, and will run through the end of the year.

When consumers click on ads that appear on HuffPost Life, Yahoo Sports and other Verizon Media properties, they’ll activate the AR ring try-on feature. Brides-to-be can also discover their wedding personality through ad formats that deliver a quiz about their lifestyle and fashion preferences. The experience then directs them to the J.C. Penney site featuring engagement rings that match their tastes.

The campaign also includes an ad sponsorship on HuffPost Life’s “The Look of Love” section to highlight J.C. Penney’s “Modern Bride” collection.

According to data from J.C. Penney, nearly one-fifth of wedding proposals occur in December. Aligning an interactive campaign with the holiday season could put J.C. Penney ahead of other competitors in the wedding jewelry space, which has seen more brands transition to direct-to-consumer models lately in order to fit millennials’ shopping behavior. 
The 117-year-old retailer has been struggling to turn things around amid declining sales and foot traffic. It hasn’t reported a quarterly sales gain since the 2017 holiday season and reported a decrease in annual sales of 6.6 percent last year.

The Data Anomaly Effect: Finding Errors and Opportunities In Data Haystacks

Originally published at AW360.

Anyone who has ever forgotten where they left their car at an airport car park or tried to search for a particular face in the crowd at a football stadium understands the meaning of the phrase “looking for a needle in a haystack.”

Yet these people do have one significant advantage; they know what they are looking for. The owner of the lost car knows the color, make and registration number of their vehicle, while the person looking for a face in a crowd can look out for clothing color, approximate height, or their likely companions. Even the proverbial needle seeker knows the difference between a sharp metal object and a piece of dry grass. Imagine how much harder these tasks would be if the individual didn’t have any information about what they were searching for.

The same principle applies to marketing data analytics. Analysts spend huge amounts of time trawling through data to identify patterns and trends, even when they have a good idea of what they are seeking and are expecting to find. If they don’t know what they are looking for, effective manual analysis of today’s vast and complex data sets becomes almost impossible, with vital threats or opportunities easily missed.

Fortunately, automated data discovery technology now exists to take over the tedious task of manual data analysis and identify hidden trends. Powered by artificial intelligence, machine learning and advanced statistics, these technologies can manage and analyze data from multiple cross-channel campaigns. They can employ specialized techniques such as anomaly detection to intelligently augment analytics with precise insights that would otherwise have remained invisible.

The anomaly detection capabilities of augmented analytics have widespread benefits for marketers, particularly in identifying expensive errors and valuable opportunities.

Identifying costly errors and hidden threats 

A blunder that costs millions might sound like the stuff of nightmares but it is entirely possible, as Google’s “Night of the yellow ads” aptly demonstrates. A small mistake by a programmatic training team led to a large sum of money being wasted on plain yellow display ads across the US and Australia. Although the mishap was rectified quickly–within 45 minutes–Google was estimated to be out of pocket by $10 million. Luckily, Google identified the error quickly, most likely by having some sort of anomaly detection technology in place, but for smaller businesses, it would have been catastrophic.

Having technology like augmented analytics with data discovery and anomaly detection in place today can make the difference for marketers, by enhancing the reaction speed to critical business events. These technologies spot errors or unusual patterns in data that may look completely normal to the untrained eye. Mistakes of this magnitude are rare but if it can happen to Google it can happen to anyone. Technology that identifies errors and anomalies of any size can prevent businesses from wasting money and increase marketing efficiency.

Proactively uncovering new opportunities

In addition to identifying and mitigating risks, augmented analytics and anomaly detection can positively help marketers uncover and optimize opportunities. Marketers don’t necessarily make the best use of their budgets, wasting around a quarter on ineffective channels and strategies, but this can be improved by finding the right insights and optimization potential.    

Augmented analytics and anomaly detection present marketers with meaningful updates on significant developments within their data that would otherwise go unnoticed. For instance, they may discover a particular creative is resonating unexpectedly well with a specific audience segment, or that a certain type of ad is generating greater response in one environment than in another. Blind spots that occur in manual analytics because of time limitations – or human assumptions and experiences – are avoided, allowing marketers a complete understanding of what is driving or hindering success.

Based on pre-defined campaign goals and KPIs, augmented analytics not only identifies opportunities but also makes spend recommendations that allow marketers to optimize these opportunities. Machine learning algorithms calculate how to meet desired goals, such as revenue or conversions in the most efficient way, delivering recommendations to optimize marketing spend within and across all marketing channels. This precise insight enables marketers to maximize in-the-moment impact and align campaign strategy with audience preferences and requirements.

Much like looking for a lost vehicle in long-stay parking, or a single face in a packed stand, finding anomalies in marketing data is time-consuming and tedious. And, when analysts don’t even know what they’re looking for it becomes unfeasible. Through automated data discovery and anomaly detection, marketers can benefit from insights they never knew existed, finding invisible insights in the data haystack that allow them to avoid costly errors and optimize opportunities.

What’s Working Right Now In AR Marketing

Back in March, eMarketer estimated that in 2019, as many as 68.7 million US customers will use augmented reality (AR) at least once a month. And this year, many brands seized the opportunity to enhance their user experiences with the advanced tech.

The world saw a myriad of innovative augmented reality campaigns: from Net-A-Porter’s AR pop-up window shop to the recent Disney and YouTube AR make-up experience for the roll-out of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and the latest Panera Bread AR ad unit for mobile that allows customers to rotate a menu item and share on social media. Another big plus—the tech is maturing quickly, and all the major tech giants–Apple, Facebook and Google– invested heavily in AR in 2019. 

Despite all this, there are still a lot of uncertainties around AR and its future in marketing. To help marketers understand the ways in which audiences consume immersive experiences, Rene Amador, CEO at AR tech company ARwall, breaks these experiences down into three modes.

The first mode, he explains, is “futurist,” where “AR is a novel illusion” and the target audience is those who seek futurist types of experiences. Avid consumers of media and technology are most interested in how well the experience explores or displays its futuristic and entertainment potential. Snapchat filters and Spark AR are a perfect example of futurist modes of  AR. 

The second mode is “realist,” which is likely how the majority of AR content is currently consumed for education or training. Here the goal is to provide informative content. Success, in this case, is typically defined by information recall, which is appropriate in the enterprise, industrial or educational setting.

The third mode is “escapist,” which is similar to what we expect from cinema. You lose yourself in the action on the screen and begin to identify with the story and its characters as if they were your reality. In these experiences, the content itself becomes far more vital, and a successful escapist campaign requires executing a technical and artistic experience that delivers story, fidelity and performance.

According to Amador, “futurist” mode is the safest choice in marketing right now.

He also predicts that AR tech will soon become flexible enough to be “objective-agnostic.”

“[This] means it [will be] able to lift the overall awareness of a campaign and support the full spectrum of business goals a marketer might have: whether that’s a product launch, recruitment drive or customer service. AR has been a tough nut to crack for marketers because it can feel disconnected from the rest of the campaign, but if you consider that it’s flexible enough to fit nearly any need, you can see that it’s just an immersive and interactive way to build experiences of any kind,” he said. 

Other analysts agree that AR marketing will keep rapidly expanding into consumer retail experiences. Earlier this year, Hanna Karki, principal research analyst at Gartner, said: “Retailers are under increasing pressure to explain the purpose of physical stores, and take control of the fulfillment and return process for cross-channel execution. At the same time, consumers are progressively defining the value provided by the experiences they receive from retailers. As a result of these pressures, retailers are turning to AR and VR to offer customers a unified retail experience inside and outside retail stores.”  

The main appeal of AR lies in increasingly convenient applications that customers can access on their mobile devices, which gives companies the advantage of creating immersive experiences that are highly visual. In addition, brands can put a fresh spin on products or services through gamification and other engaging tactics to increase familiarity and drive loyalty. 

If the predictions are right, by the end of 2022, the number of mobile AR users will reach 3.5 billion globally, which will give brands access to an extremely broad audience and will help them generate a high volume of qualified leads.

“For the brand, the richness of the experience opens up opportunities for opt-in capture of email, phone numbers and social media profiles. Those are solid meat-and-potatoes marketing milestones, and I think more and more marketers will realize AR can drive those traditional goals more effectively,” Amador said. 

Paid Search Becomes Mobile-First Experience

More than 70 percent of all paid search impressions and clicks were on mobile devices in Q3, according to a study from Kenshoo. The report found that paid search overall has grown over the last five quarters, with a seven percent year-over-year spend increase in Q3. 

The signs have been pointing to a future where mobile is the most popular channel for paid search, and it’s finally reached a threshold. Q2 marked the first quarter where mobile search reached 50 percent paid search spending. In Q3, over half (54 percent) of paid search ad spending was on mobile devices–up four percent from the prior quarter.

The rise demonstrates continued long-term growth for the last five quarters. Paid search remains the most consistent channel in digital marketing as brands have realized that keeping this channel “always-on” is a necessity, not just a best practice. Paid search impressions were up 29 percent YOY and paid search clicks rose 15 percent YOY, both growing faster than total spend. These findings reflect the fact that marketers were able to generate higher impressions and clicks without the need to increase spending. 

Meanwhile, paid search quarter-over-quarter (QOQ) gains only saw a two percent increase in spend, three percent in clicks and five percent more impressions than Q2. While click-through-rate (CTR) was down 10 percent YOY, the drop in ad engagement was offset by marketers paying less for their clicks as the average cost-per-click (CPC) in Q3 decreased seven percent from the year before.

Social advertising spend grew 32 percent YOY, driven by Instagram, video and product ads. Impressions grew roughly the same rate as spend while clicks on social were up 26 percent over the previous quarter. Dynamic product ads made up 37 percent of the Q3 total for social advertising. 

Social’s average cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) saw a four percent decline QOQ and three percent decline YOY. This suggests that the channel’s pricing remains stable, allowing marketers to increase spending while maintaining efficiency for their investment.

Findings are based on data taken from over 3,000 advertiser and agency accounts across 40 industry verticals and over 150 countries.