As we know, we are currently watching the shift between the economic centers of the world. The rise of China, an assertive India, an increasingly resurgent Russia and the digitalization of markets such as Latin America and Africa will change the mobile advertising market profoundly in the next years. Here we list the 5 main challenges for developers that do want to focus their apps in these markets:
1- Internet Connection
Emerging markets have very different scenarios regarding internet quality. While some of the most tech savvy countries out there are former socialist countries and Asiatic powerhouses, other emerging countries especially in Africa don’t have the necessary kind of internet connection for the app market to thrive. While gaming trends are shifting towards more collaborative, multiplayer-focused games (at least in the western world), developers must keep an eye for alternative options for places in which the internet connection isn’t as good as in the developed world.
One alternative is to develop lighter apps, using the “Lite” concept, presented on some facebook and google apps. This will enable users from emerging countries to use your app without exploding their budget on internet and also in less powerful smartphones.
2- Billing/ Credit Card penetration
In many emerging countries, credit cards are not widespread. This happens both due to the low levels of income and high cost of credit, both things that do harm the mobile ecosystem of a country, since in-app payments are mainly driven by people that use credit cards. So be aware: Your in-app purchases may not be the success you think they will be in emerging markets. Even with prepaid and gift cards on the rise, most of the in-app purchases occur in the “heat of the moment”, which will still make the lack of credit cards a problem for developers that want to sell tools and extra content.
As we’ve already mentioned, in-app payments are deeply affected due to the infrastructure in emerging markets. Even if you choose to monetize your games with ads (yeah!) instead of in-app purchases, emerging markets will deliver different results. While in some markets, such as India and China, the sheer number of users is huge, their payout is way lower than the payout of users in the western developed world. This happens because campaign inventories are normally smaller, while fraud control might also be harder to tackle, due to older OS versions and lack of GAID.
4- Languages (Localization)
Unfortunately (or fortunately) the whole world does not speak English. And if you want to reach emerging markets, you should learn other languages than English, for a few reasons. While the Chinese elite is well literate in English, most of the country huge population does not speak English. And this means that app developers interested in China – or elsewhere in the emerging markets – should adapt and localize their apps to the local language and culture, or conversion rates will be harmed. After all, there is no meaning in using an app that you don’t understand. And that’s why networks that work with local agencies and advertisers can present better conversion rates with local brands and traffic. 🙂
Also, we must not forget bureaucracy. Since governments normally can’t keep up with the advancements of technology, regulation can really be a threat to developers in countries in which you might need to do a lot of bureaucratic paperwork before launching your app. Also, payments might be delayed due to political reasons (sanctions) and internet services can also be censored, all of which will, for sure, harm the mobile ecosystem of any country.