This phenomenon can be explained by the explosion in the number of portable multimedia devices such as smartphones and tablets, resulting in more and more company investment into marketing promotions via these devices.

In the United States, portable multimedia devices - smartphones and tablets - represent a major focus for company marketing. This trend, highlighted in a study carried out by Borrell Associates, stems from the increasingly widespread use of these tools, which are starting to replace both portable and fixed-station PCs. In fact demand for tablets is eating into that of portable computers, at a “cannibalisation” rate measured at 29% for 2011 and expected to plateau at around 20% in the coming years. However, according to Morgan Stanley, a contributor to the report, tablet sales will even overtake portable PC sales from end 2012. Meanwhile, the number of smartphones in circulation continues to increase (by 41% this year), taking the total number of smartphones now in use to 95 million units.

SMBs especially keen on mobile marketing

As one might expect, companies - especially SMBs - are showing strong interest in the marketing opportunities provided by this increase in smartphone and tablet use. Of the 484 surveyed, over 80% already had invested in mobile marketing, or were planning to do so during the year, with 20% even investing over 50% of their advertising budgets in this channel. And while SMBs’ total expenditure in this area is put at just $0.8 billion for 2011, this figure is expected to double every year, so that around 2016 it should reach over $18 billion. Looking at the market as a whole, the amount companies are investing is of course today much higher ($10 billion this year), but the year-on-year increase is expected to be slower than among SMBs, at just 60% per year.

Advertising approach is not changing

However it appears that companies are still using these tools in a very traditional manner. The study reveals that companies concentrate primarily on sending SMS/MMS ads (30% of total expenditure), and on advertising based on search engines (50% of total expenditure). Given that carrying out searches on the Internet is in fact Internet users’ second favourite use of the Web, just behind video games, this investment clearly makes sense. However, when it comes to the newer approaches – online coupons, sampling, etc – company expenditure remains low, despite growing consumer interest in such special offers.