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Wake up Germany. Mobile-First For Media Planning.

When Oliver Samwer, one of Germany’s most notorious entrepreneurs took the stage at this year’s Horizont Awards, his message couldn’t have been any clearer: „A new era has begun and it’s mobile“. In his speech in Munich he hinted at a mobile-first strategy for Rocket Internet, telling media industry representatives that the internet was now in a “post-war” state. His announcement ruffled the feathers of industry experts not because of the message, but rather its timing. As leading digital companies such as Facebook and Google declared a mobile-first strategy years ago, internet tycoons Rocket are a little late to the party.

Don’t miss the boat. Take mobile seriously.

A few days later at the BVDW’s (Germany’s Digital Economy Association) New Year’s gala in Hamburg, mobile was assigned a central role in the digital evolution. Mark Wächter, chairman of the BVDW focus group Mobile (German Chapter of the MMA) said “mobile became the main theme throughout all areas of the industry in the past year”. He went on to describe smartphones as a “personal hub in an increasingly interconnected world” and spoke of its central role in future topics such as the smart home, connected commerce and the internet of things.

Some of the boldest words at that gala came from Mathias Müller von Blumencron, Digital Head of German publisher FAZ who said “We have missed a great deal of opportunities and made our fair share of mistakes”. Speaking of the past failures of classic media companies and publishers, Mathias addressed those in charge of media planning: “You, dear agency founders, must learn to sell digital advertising. Unless you learn how to do this, we’ll all go bust, you first.”

Does Germany need a mobile-first media planning strategy?

Having chosen to go mobile-first years ago, this strategy has already paid off big time for Facebook and Google. According to the numbers released last year, 69% of Facebook’s revenue comes from mobile and it generates 29% of Google’s revenue, a figure that is rising steadily. As some German companies are still discussing the relevance of mobile and deliberating over the technical details, those two are enjoying two thirds of the mobile advertising pie due to their dominant market position and most importantly, their willingness to innovate and move forward with the times. It’s high time Germany followed suit.

Advertisers have an abundance of premium inventory to choose from along with polished technology. The infrastructure has been working, and constantly improved for years. The message resounding from Germany is clear; programmatic advertising and mobile data are the most promising trends for the foreseeable future. “The consumer should be at the core of all media planning, rather than the channel. Mobile data enables advertisers to address their audiences in the perfect moment, giving their ad message the most relevant context and ultimately, adding value for the user” says adsquare CEO Tom Laband.

There are many explanations for the restraint in budget distribution here in Germany. Gregor Fellner, Country Manager at Millennial Media believes the root of the problem lays with advertisers and the traditional thinking still attached to media planning. He explains: “To keep up with changing patterns in media usage, mobile should no longer be an exotic topic, but rather a crucial part of campaign planning. The industry needs to think more like Facebook and Google where mobile is a natural and pre-defined part of campaign planning”. Fellner also adds that to ignore mobile is “pure suicide”.

A mobile first strategy seems more like a long term vision than a point on the 2015 agenda to advertisers and media planners. But at least it is edging its way in to their minds. According to Nielsen, mobile budgets in Germany rose by 72.5% to €185 million and advertisers like Adidas ramped up their budgets by a whopping 700%. We can all take a leaf out of their book! Yet it still pales in comparison to the UK, where mobile is about to reach €2.7 billion and accounts for 27.9% of digital ad spend. Advertisers aren’t in need of any more complex studies, they need only take a look at their own media usage.

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About Daniel

DanielDaniel is adsquare's VP Marketing. He is a mobile evangelist and vice chairman of the MMA Germany / BVDW Mobile. Beyond the success of smartphones, Daniel strongly believes in the rise of the connected fridge.

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