LONDON: Mobile marketing has moved beyond "the toddler stage", with the development of new ad formats and the growing importance of "apps" set to play a key role in the medium's future, says Vodafone's international development manager of mobile advertising, Jeremy Makin.

While mobile expenditure could be seen as an obvious candidate for cutbacks during the downturn as marketers turn to more tried and tested strategies, devices such as Apple's iPhone are attracting major advertisers to the platform.

A recent study from ABI Research forecast that global mobile marketing spend will increase to $16 billion (€11.4bn; £10.1bn) by 2011, with Asia Pacific set to account for over 50% of this total, boosted in particular by the highly developed markets of Japan and South Korea.

Makin also reported that Vodafone's ad revenues rose by 70% on an annual basis in 2008, and he argued that this growth "would have been faster if not for the recession, which has pushed it back 18 months."

Looking to the future of mobile marketing, he added that "branded applications" will be "very important for us moving forward."

These tools are a "big branding opportunity, to build functional, entertaining, fun apps, which we've started to see with the iPhone," and could be developed "for every single device from every single manufacturer."

Among the revenue-generating opportunities offered by these gadgets are "injecting" ads into programmes at appropriate stages, or else mobile carriers developing applications that "we know customers want, and where we can go to brands to sponsor."

Despite the increasing prominence of these strategies, Makin confirmed that banner ads are still responsible for the "majority of revenues" at present.

With regard to the advertiser-funded model adopted by UK-based mobile phone network Blyk, he also agreed that this strategy has proved "very successful and customers and advertisers loved it."

However, while Vodafone would not "dismiss" such an approach, Makin suggested that "mobile advertising from our perspective is very much about growing revenues, not substituting one for another."

Data sourced from Moco News; additional content by WARC staff