The following article appeared in similar form on Mashable.
If you believe experts like Mary Meeker, mobile advertising is getting hotter every day, but a true revolution is still a ways off. The dollars spent on mobile marketing do not come close to lining up with the amount of time we spend with our devices, and “traditional” media like print and broadcast still attract the lion’s share of spending. In other words, we’ve had our mobile advertising “big bang,” but we haven’t yet fully adapted to life in our brand-new universe.
However, if the money’s not there now, it will be soon. Because while mobile might not yet be attracting its fair share of spend, it already owns serious share of mind. Industry trailblazers are setting the agenda for the mobile future and leading the way for the rest of the marketing world. As they evangelize (channeling Wayne Gretzky): “Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it’s already been.”
The advertising puck is careening towards mobile. Mobile is no longer a “nice to have” — it’s often at the core of everything, if not always first. It has changed far more than consumer behaviour, transcending its role as a connection and convergence device, and “impacting business through customer service, ecommerce, awareness and more,” says Jesse Missad, associate director of mobility at Starcom MediaVest Group. He feels its importance to marketing cannot be overstated: “We believe mobile will be part of every communications plan.”
We spoke with Missad and other industry thought leaders for actionable insights and best practices to help you join the mobile marketing revolution, right here and right now.
1. Be Mobile-Centric
Smart brands and agencies put mobile at the centre, and break out of the “silos,” with holistic approaches, says Paul Gelb, VP and Mobile Practice Lead at Razorfish. “Mobile’s unique characteristic as a device is that it is always on and with the consumer. So it can be integrated into and enhance other consumer touch points, including TV ads and brick-and-mortar locations. In the absence of another touch point, mobile interactions are part of a larger consumer journey. And, it is not just a single media channel. Mobile enables delivery of a wide variety of interactive paid, owned and earned experiences.”
Siloed organisations and marketing programs should be relegated to the past. While the phrase “mobile first” gets tossed around a lot, any doubt of mobile’s centrality can be assuaged by heeding Missad’s advice: “Reality calls for an integrated approach to mobility, not a separate strategy. Mobile is a full-funnel solution.”
2. Make a New Argument
Regardless of the fact that the dollars don’t yet match the eyeballs, smart brands are no longer asking marketers to “justify an investment in mobile,” says Gelb. Rather, “they are looking for agencies that have a comprehensive understanding of the mobile space, including back-end tech, application and site design and development, media, search, ad creative and analytics.”
Chris Silva, an analyst with Altimeter Group, says, “Maturity is the right strategy for agencies. It’s no longer about ‘build the app and figure out what it does later’.” This may sound familiar to veterans of Web 1.0, when, for many brands, a forward-thinking online strategy amounted to building a really expensive website and seeing if people found it.
3. Keep an Open Mind
While Silva believes the “discoverability” challenges for apps make mobile advertising a better bet for brands, Missad has seen that apps, mobile ads and sites can each play a key role in a campaign’s success. “It’s dependent on the KPI of the campaign and tailoring the right metric to the right goal,” he says.
Taking a step back, Gelb offers this useful viewpoint: Marketers can get too caught up in choosing from among an abundance of options at this dawning of the mobile age. While many of us believe that mobile has “changed everything,” he posits that one thing that “mobile hasn’t changed is the process for solving problems. Consistent success doesn’t begin with a technology. It comes from identifying actionable consumer insights, business objectives and the experiential message to communicate.”
4. Always Be Relevant
Mobile technology brings new possibilities to people’s lives, and new opportunities for marketers to deliver engaging content, messages, value and utility. While tablets are often a “lean back” medium used as a second screen while watching TV, or for shopping from the sofa, true mobile experiences often find us focused on a specific task (say, looking for a restaurant nearby), attending to one specific piece of content (a page of restaurant reviews), and in a specific place (on the corner of 5th Avenue and Carroll Street). The possibilities brought forth from that type of data are powerful and simply astounding.
As Gelb says, “Mobile is the most self-aware technology and channel in history. One common thread across all best practices for mobile marketing is contextual relevance. Research reports and pilot case studies consistently show that performance increases exponentially by any and all metrics, when the media plan and ad creative leverage context to deliver a relevant experience.”
That kind of relevance is shown to perform. When marketers leverage contextual information, they are able to understand the wants and needs of consumers who are already in-market for a product or service and help to move an interested consumer further down the marketing funnel, explains Missad.
Thanks to mobile, we’re able to deliver content and advertising experiences that are truly in the interest of the consumer. As Gelb says, when advertising is contextually relevant, users in overwhelming numbers “report not only a positive impression of the ad they saw but also the concept of ad-supported media.”
5. Follow the Leaders
Our experts pointed to a variety of mobile approaches as “best in breed.” Silva called out apps that “enrich” the bottom line — like those used by Starbucks and others to enable transactions. He also likes “engage” apps used by companies such as Toyota to build brand goodwill, let potential buyers learn and engage with content and information.
Missad mentioned an innovative campaign by one of MediaVest’s clients, Microsoft, who “put some game-changing messaging into market with their Windows Phone mobile demo takeover. This literally took over iPhone and Android operating systems with a demonstration of their WinPhone Mango interface.”
In his view, it’s important for marketers to consider that “it’s about mobility — mobile is guiding the consumer’s experience with content, brands, real-world and community 24/7. Taking these experiences into account when deciding which tactics to pursue is key. Commerce apps are incredibly powerful for brands and generate deep loyalty from their target consumers through ongoing engagement (e.g. Chase, American Airlines, Delta,Starwood and OpenTable). Campaign-specific initiatives are successful at generating awareness and eliciting a direct response.”
6. Be the Change
The industry has not necessarily kept in step with the pace of change. Whether through initiatives by trade groups such as the IAB or MMA, or through the force of will of top agencies or brands, changes need to come. “There is a serious lack of standardization. The industry needs to investigate mobile ad-serving solutions that draw us close to more accurate measurement and ROI numbers,” says Missad. He adds that while industry progress has been made through mobile ad-server development, publisher adoption of tags and attitudinal evaluation, “Measurement is simply not keeping up with consumer realities and the proliferation of technology.”
Positive industry change and development will be spurred most strongly by the shift of budgets into mobile, Gelb says. He feels that will be helped along by improved measurement and transparency across apps, sites and mobile devices. He also believes that increased uptake of second-screen technologies and campaigns — along with the coming ubiquity of mobile payments — will help to bring mobile to real maturity and truly make it part of a holistic marketing worldview.
Through the adoption of our experts’ advice, and our collective efforts to drive progress and accelerate change, we can all work toward building an ideal mobile future. Perhaps it is not too optimistic to hope for the world Gelb envisions, where “mobile marketing and advertising will finally operate like a perfectly functioning market, where resources are allocated to the investment with the highest return in real time.” Now that’s a mobile universe that sounds quite nice.
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