Mobile advertising is becoming a challenge

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The world’s already gone mobile, we all know that and at the same time many folks are struggling to adapt to the new challenges it poses. Mobile is not another desktop, it’s whole new game and that’s why the big guns such as Google and Facebook have pivoted so (impressively) quickly to face the coming onslaught of mobile device, platforms and users.

With 25% of paid-for adverting clicks now coming from mobile device it’s impossible to ignore for any marketer worth his salt. It also seems to be a rich vein of opportunity waiting to be mined; lower click-costs, higher conversion rates and greater whole-of-life value coming from these new devices. There are some detractors and there is some evidence that all is not as rosy in the garden of mobile.

However, that’s nothing more than a smokescreen for the real issues. We are starting to see the coalescing of a number of trends which are conspiring to make marketers live’s very uncomfortable indeed.

The early adopters who took to the mobile and tablet space were more savvy, wealthier and deeply comfortable spending money and leaving data online. In that sense, the early peak of success was both predictable and self-fulfilling. The technology is now maturing, no longer the preserve of monied geeks and techo-singles, tablets and smartphones are now in the hands of the common man, every man.

Quantity is also playing it’s part: Around 7m iPad devices were sold in the last half of 2010 compared to 31m in the same period two years later. Greater volume will generate more searches which in turn generates more clicks and higher advertising costs. It also generates more return for companies in this space so we see more and more companies jumping on the auction-based bandwagon that is Google advertising. Supply and demand dictates that the cost per click and acquisition must go up.

Simply buying mobile advertising does not get you a seat at the mobile table. The other big investments entails building a viable mobile web-site. To make it viable requires a different approach to that used for the conventional desktop. Location-based services, big-thumb syndrome, slow Internet connections, conversion points and time-of-day/week all gang-up on the well-meaning marketer.

Agencies freely admit that they don’t really have a clue, at all. Over half in a recent survey claim to know nothing about the mobile space. If that’s a survey then I’d suggest the reality is a lot worse. Compounding the lack of knowledge is the scary fact that most companies are led by their agency. Eeek.

The App vs Mobile Web Apps fight has not, contrary to some believers, got a single winner. Yes, frequently-used applications and services such as Twitter, Facebook, Mail and Calendars all (generally) suit an App-style approach. But for occasional or immediate use almost no-one will search, download and use a dedicated App; they’ll use a web search and click on a web-page. So don’t be fooled by the App companies hawking their wares around the planet.

The mobile market for advertising will exceed $10bn this year and Google are moving fast to address this with initiatives such as enhanced mobile campaigns. These are being forced on marketing departments without consultation. Which begs the question, if Google and Facebook have gone fully mobile and you haven’t then where does that leave the business relationship? Historical supplier relationships see supplier meets the needs of clients. How odd.

The dominance of Google is forcing companies to re-think their marketing strategies as they struggle to keep up. Is it really right that Google uses it’s dominant position to force the play? It strikes that the big boys are slugging it out, largely deaf to the needs of companies. Which is true. They are listening to the real customers, the folks that use the search and social networks – not marketing departments.

Finally, tracking in the mobile world got a whole lot harder with the introduction of IO6 which hides some important information that marketing departments have relied on in the past.

Roll-up the issues and you have the equivalent of a marketing clusterf*ck.

  • Ad networks using their dominant position to drive (=bully?) marketing strategies
  • Operationally grounded marketing departments with insufficient resource to look forward … and have missed the mobile boat so far
  • Confusion over the real value of mobile and how to leverage it
  • Absence of ducks being lined up properly and in a timely fashion
  • The self-fulfilling prophecy of “if it doesn’t work for us now then it never will”

The charge to mobile, and tablet specifically, combined with the death of PCs is a challenge. One that we’re deeply embedded in and (here comes the sales bit) on hand to help folks out. Drop me a line or fill a form in and we’ll start working on your mobile fix straightaway.

By Martin Dower

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