The report compiled consumer mobile behaviour to identify top trends in mobile marketing.
"Understanding how consumers are using these devices is an important element of understanding mobile's benefits and risks," said Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner. "Mobile technology is the vehicle of immediacy, putting mobile marketers in the critical position of being masters of timing—knowing when and how to drop the right offer at the right time."
Mobile social networks: Vertical markets
Gartner expects mobile social networks to attract 1 billion users by 2014. According to the research firm's surveys, 15 percent of mobile phone users currently access social-networking sites via their phones. Given the market's competitiveness, however, by 2015 the pure-play mobile social networking market will likely consolidate around five or fewer players, said the report.
The firm also expects mobile social networking to affect many vertical sectors, particularly for companies that interact with large communities, such as education, retail, healthcare and government. "These vertical markets and their memberships can be sources of important contextual data," said Gartner.
Mobile application stores: Choose wisely
Focus on mobile application stores that have good distribution outlets and a large development community, advises Gartner. These platforms typically have better advertising support, user review, ranking and recommendation engines, and billing and reporting features.
Location-based services: Area of future growth
There is an ongoing convergence of location functionality with social networking, news, information, search and entertainment services, noted the report. By the end of 2012, Gartner expects almost 800 million location-based service users worldwide, and revenue generated by consumer location-based services is forecast to reach US$13.5 billion in 2015, of which advertising will be the dominant contributor.
Applications that will generate the highest interest in the near term will be navigation, location search and friend finder/social networks.
The growing availability of bar code and marketing campaigns designed to increase consumer awareness of what they are and how to use them will drive the mainstream adoption of the method within two to five years, predicts Gartner, particularly in direct-marketing.
"Bar codes are increasingly being used in mobile ticketing and check-in applications within the travel and entertainment industries," said the report, adding that the method increased brand loyalty and contributed to a "cutting-edge" brand image.
Mobile coupons: Learn from the leaders
While adoption has been slow, Gartner's surveys indicate a growing willingness among smartphone users to adopt mobile coupons. The recent launch of Apple's Passbook app with iOS6 creates a built-in platform for mobile coupons on iPhones.
"Digital marketing leaders can jump-start their mobile couponing efforts by leveraging lessons learned by retailers currently using mobile coupons and by using specialised technology providers to test alternative approaches," advised the study.
In the long-term however, mobile coupons need to be part of a multichannel e-coupon strategy that services consumers' desire to access and redeem coupons via any channel, said Gartner.
While AR reached the peak of its hype in 2010, it's only likely to reach mainstream adoption within five to 10 years from now, said Gartner. Its ability to enhance user experience as a logical extension of location-based and context-aware mobile interactions, grants it long-term potential, said the study.
The article first appeared on Campaign Asia