Monday, March 30, 2009

Being brave in mobile

I took the time to read Mobile Marketer's "Classic Guide to Mobile Advertising" tonight, all 52 pages of it. It consists of around 30 random articles on the topic with overlaps, contradictions and a variety of quality. Interestingly they were mostly from companies with names like "Admedion," all very techy sounding and unapproachable. Which kind of sums up the current state of play: the technology is slowly getting there and the consumer experience is mainly poor.

My main take outs:-

Lots of articles about text links and banners, but having experienced this myself I can't see the future being in this area. Much more interesting were articles about mobile search, widgets, games and content. Surely the future of brand's presence in your mobile has to be consumer driven? Interruption models might be getting reasonable click through rates now, when the banner takes up 25% of the screen, but that can't last and they will go the same way as banner ads online. So: content, utilities and entertainment are the way to go in my view.

Next up, an overwhelming lack of case studies - just fluffy commentary. Notable exceptions were J&J Baby centre's mobile presence with Hispanic Mums which was based on getting them to sms in their due date and providing them with trimester-relevant content and ads. The expansion of Playboy onto the mobile internet also gives a nod to the old adage that porn and gambling grew the internet - so why not the mobile internet? The Golden Compass was used as a research example - tracking the awareness and interest in the film amongst mobile users who were exposed to ads vs those that weren't.

Thirdly, there is a lot of talk about the technology disparities and platform issues - to run a broad reaching campaign you need to have a format that can be viewed on 5000 different devices which don't like html, can't use cookies, and have trouble with flash. Hence why we're still seeing text ads. Parallel to this, in order for mobile advertising to take off we need to get all the steps right from the carriers to the handset manufacturers, the software platforms (maybe Google's android and the iphone's open software will make this much easier), and through to the publishers of content and the advertisers. But as one author pointed out, the personal nature of your mobile phone means that ultimately consumers will vote on what works and what doesn't. And I bet it's not text ads that win the day.

One point that I did like in Oz Eleonora's article was that in order for mobile advertising to succeed, it has to bring a new value equation to advertising and that, he suggests would be personalization based on instant behavioural data, i.e. what you're doing now: where you are, who you're communicating with (let's not forget that's what phones are for) and what you're up to.

I am going to get myself an iphone so I can get more familiar with its web browsing capabilities. I hope it's better than my old Samsung - trying to watch football highlights was laughable. From what I've seen it takes mobile web browsing forward so that offers us hope.

My penultimate point is about integration. Right now, mobile advertising isn't a powerful medium in its own right, but it can be a great addition to other media to bring your audience into the conversation in conjunction with the internet.

At the moment, the reality of mobile advertising is a fair way behind what consumers expect - their expectations are built on the PC-Internet and hence we have to find ways to offer useful, personal brand experiences which are unique to the mobile or tap into how people use mobiles.

Getting involved in the mobile space requires a lot of bravery for most Australian clients right now, but with some careful thought and a reason to be there based on consumer insight and a good understanding of how they use their mobile, it should be worthwhile.

1 comment:

David D. said...

Hope you enjoy your new iphone. While I don't have one myself my partner does. You will find it is a very different experience to other mobiles as the internet is not acccessed within a walled garden or the "mobile" version of a webpage.
I think the iphone (plus others following suit)will over taken the need for "mobile advertising" (with the expection of applications on the phone) as such. Consumers can just interact with the tradtional webpage directly so there is no need for another 'mobile' interface.