Listening to the speakers at this morning's brand and agency briefing, hosted by the MMA, it is clear how quickly things have changed for the industry during the last six months. But it's all rather more symbolic of how quickly things are changing all the time in mobile.
Hotels.com is now working in 40 countries in 16 languages and has seen more than 15m downloads across seven different apps. “For us, this has really been a story of transformation,” said Yannick Barriol, director or mobile marketing at Hotels.com. But as 20 per cent of its bookings are now made through a mobile device, the channel isn't new for them any more. “Mobile is not the small fast-growth channel it was. It's already big and still growing fast.”
The company sees 70 per cent of mobile bookings made on the same day, with most of those done after 6pm - really last minute – and its TV ads continue to reflect that. Its latest campaign, which is currently running in Australia, sees a couple getting hot and heavy in a lift. 'Need a room?' the ad asks. Save your blushes and use the app to book on your way up. A previous victim was filmed booking while jumping out of a plane.
Hotels.com has been working with Fetch on its app marketing for more than two years. Matt Champion, media services director, said that the partnership has transformed his company as well. “A question that didn't exist two years ago – 'do we need local presence?'. Mobile makes it easy to scale globally but you always have to have some local presence.” The company is recruiting native speakers from South America and China to ensure they deliver the right mobile creative for their client.
Facebook is top five for mobile ads
In the last six months alone, Facebook has gone from being non-existent in hotels.com's mobile strategy to being in the top five mobile advertising platforms it uses. “Six months ago, Facebook was nowhere. It has now gone to being a top five supplier for us for hotels.com,” Champion said. “We've used 107 suppliers over the last two years. Today we are live with about 40. It's really gone from zero to hero in about six months and it is very interesting and I don’t think we’ve seen the end of that. Twitter will get on the page over the next year.”
Barriol said that mobile has changed the company from being an online marketplace to a full-blown retailer. “We now have to understand customers even better - where they are what they want – and be more clever about what we’re offering. They don’t have time to browse among thousands of hotel so we're trying to push relevant hotels and news to our customers at the moment they need it. It's forced us to become a retailer and a clever retailer."
They are now aligning all of their products, supply chain and marketing around mobile, including their email CRM and search strategy.
Mobile transforms King.com into just King
In another sign of just how much mobile is changing businesses, King.com, makers of the hit Candy Crush game, have rebranded simply as King. “It has changed so radically in the last five or six months. Being known as king.com isn’t really relevant anymore,” said Michael Bayston, international sales director.
King's Candy Crush is now the largest game on Facebook and the company has 50m daily active users across all of its platforms. This user base has grown by 27m in the last five months alone and 52 per cent of those are using mobile. From having an audience on desktop that was 75 per cent female, on mobile it is now only 56 per cent. Its audience is now younger and more affluent than ever before.
“Things really changed with Facebook,” he said, “35 per cent of our downloads are due specifically to cross promotion of Facebook games. With Facebook connect, it fully syncs so they can pick the game back up wherever and whenever they like. People who play and connect with Facebook, rather than just downloading the app, are more loyal, spend more time playing our games, spend more money and they promote our games with other people.”
Bayston said that people in China are joining Facebook just so they can play the Candy Crush. Over one sixth of the population in Hong Kong play it. He emphasised that they aren't simply games any more, calling what King now produces 'mobile digital content'.
More free downloads, more money
On the company's commitment to freemium mobile gaming, Bayston said that this makes it a lot easier to make your friend or get someone else to try it. “People expect it to be free. Free content is here to stay. You’d think it would be bad but 80 per cent of mobile games revenue comes from free games.” He also said that games acting as a service, like giving the user free wi-fi for a download, give opportunities for monetisation. “People don't realise that if the app is paid for, when downloads go down, revenues go down. With free downloads, as the number of downloads goes down, revenues go up because those users are more likely to buy within the game.”
Candy Crush now has more than 300 levels and King has to keep adding more content all the time. “Feeding the beast,” as Bayston called it.