Panel: Media Buyers Put Mobile In Perspective
That may not be the enthusiastic endorsement that mobile mavens wanted to hear, but it brought a welcome air of reality to the breathless hype that often attends discussions of mobile advertising. It also underscored that if text-message marketing is considered a first step in mobile advertising, it also remains the dominant format.
Much of the appeal of SMS campaigns stems from their relative simplicity and ability to add a direct-response element to traditional brand media, such as placing a short code on a billboard or in a print ad so consumers can text to get more information about a product or a discount.
With the confusion and complexity surrounding mobile advertising, any option that offers a straightforward approach is a virtue on the buy side. Andy Von Kennel, divisional director for Measure 2X, a joint venture of Rapp and Alcone Marketing Group, advised marketers to keep mobile efforts simple.
"It's not that different from other channels," he said. "You add a short code to print (ad) investments you're already making. It isn't about how do I do an ad on mobile, it's about how do I get more out of my current investments."
Greg March, media director at Wieden+Kennedy, agreed. "People try to sell mobile for its own sake," he said. Instead, mobile marketing and technology companies should look more closely at whether mobile fits with the advertising objectives of their clients.
"Get to know our clients. We're selling through a giant plan. If I have to spend a lot of time educating against a $100,000 (mobile) program, that's taking the wind out of sales of a very large plan," he said. In short, agencies don't want to spend a lot of time helping mobile vendors understand client goals for what will only amount to a small piece of a larger media plan.
Patrick Cartmel, managing director at MEC Interaction, also brought up the oft-cited difficulty of running a mobile ad campaign widely across the fragmented landscape of hundreds of different handsets, carriers and mobile operating systems.
In terms of mobile advertising, "the best things are very bespoke and hard to make scalable and repeatable," he said. As a widespread mobile platform, SMS text messaging is one way to get around that problem.
He mentioned that mobile had played a key role in Virgin Atlantic's "Love from Above" campaign last year -- which MEC Interaction worked on, in the form of short codes added to out-of-home placements that linked consumers to information about events tied to the campaign.
Against the panel consensus on SMS messaging, Walter Schild, CEO of digital agency Genex, championed that other major mobile marketing trend -- branded iPhone apps. Schild, whose firm developed the popular iFood app for Kraft, said the agency had shifted focus away from more traditional mobile ad-buying to developing mobile apps.
"We're avoiding mass buys," he said. "We find you can have breakthroughs with smaller campaign efforts." At the same time, he warned that an iPhone app is not necessarily the right move for all advertisers. "It's the shiny new toy. Everybody wants an iPhone app."