Mobile Advertising – Is it REALLY all about apps?
I recently had the honour of being asked to judge the 2010 AIMIA Awards in both Best Mobile Advertising and Best Mobile Products categories.
This was a fascinating exercise on a couple of levels. Perhaps the first thing to strike me was the vast disparity between the number of entries in the mobile advertising category vs mobile product – six versus 21. Mobile products and services are starting to find their place in the world, but obviously mobile advertising has a lot of catching up to do.
Where’s the web?
The second thing that was interesting was that in the Mobile Advertising category there were a couple of iPhone Apps, and integrated Bluetooth campaign, some content offerings, some multi-platform implementations – but there wasn’t a mobile web campaign to be seen.
Given that according to AIMIA – 20% of the Australian population use the mobile web every day it seems odd that more effort isn’t going into creating innovative advertising campaigns for this channel.
It seems that every proverbial marketer and their dog wants an app – but mobile web is being shunned. My estimates are that less than 0.8% of the total digital display ad spend will make it into the mobile channel this year.
And it doesn’t look like the Australian community is all alone in the world either. An article published recently in Advertising Age in the US documents a similar trend in the world’s largest advertising market.
In the US, it seems, a vast proportion of “mobile” ad dollars are going into the creation of smartphone (read iPhone) apps.
The richer get richer?
The argument in the US (and I’ve heard it used here too) is that apps are a better way of fostering an engagement between a consumer and a brand because of the rich interactivity, the tactile nature of the device and the indisputable “buzz” that still surrounds high end smartphones.
The counter argument is that apps are not scaleable, they have to be redeveloped for each new platform and the numbers just aren’t there. A few thousand downloads gets you to the top of your category in the AU App Store, but these are not usage figures that are going to make many marketers at the top end of town fall out of their chairs.
Storm in an iCup?
The Ad Age article I mentioned earlier suggests that the hype surrounding apps will die down and that the mobile web will become the predominant mobile interaction between consumers and content/services/advertising. I don’t disagree with this assertion, however there are a couple of points media owners and marketers need to get their heads around before we start seeing some serious traction (ie spend) in this space.
Mobile advertising doesn’t (or shouldn’t) exist
At the end of the day, marketers don’t give a damn about mobile advertising. They don’t give a damn about advertising full stop. What they are trying to do is get a brand message to a consumer in an engaging way. That’s why the digital media industry (all of it) needs to stop thinking about “Mobile Advertising”.
Mobile devices are just another means for brands to access consumers. What’s interesting about these mobile devices is that they can be engaging in a way that previous media has never been able to be – they are location aware, motion sensitive, personalisable, and always with us.
They are also, primarily, COMMUNICATION devices.
Smaller, slower and more expensive ain’t ever going to work
One of the big issues that I’ve observed in the mobile industry (and I’ve been in this game since 2001), is that developers, creatives, brands and publishers seem to view mobile as a smaller, portable version of the PC and develop content and creative accordingly. So what we end up with is smaller, slower, more expensive versions of what we started with. And surprisingly consumers aren’t thrilled about this.
Don’t start with your current site, campaign, creative – start with your consumer.
It’s the measurement stupid
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Advertising in the mobile space will not be taken seriously until there are some standards. What is being measured? How it is being measured? And how is this related to the fundamental missing piece in much advertising (be it m-sites, banners, apps, SMS campaigns – you name it!). Return on Investment.
We can see a marketer putting $1 in – but where do we show the marketer getting $1.xx out.