Kraft's Bough Backs Digital, Mobile Shift

by , May 8, 2012, 5:48 PM
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B.-Bonin-Bough-BIn a keynote talk at a "mobile upfront" event Tuesday, B. Bonin Bough, VP, global media and consumer engagement at Kraft, said he was committed to shifting budgets at the CPG giant increasingly to digital and mobile platforms.

He cited Kraft’s partnership with Nokia earlier this year to create a mobile innovation lab as a sign of the increased focus on emerging media platforms he is bringing to Kraft. “You’re going to see a lot of projects rolling out of that,” said Bough, who served as digital strategy maven at PepsiCo before joining Kraft in February.

Kraft grabbed attention in the early days of mobile app development with its iFood Assistant app for finding recipes and building shopping lists. Bough said continual iteration was the key to keeping the Kraft app fresh -- most recently integrating functionality with connected TV so users can watch cooking-related videos. He added that the iFood Assistant still has “phenomenal engagement” rates because it is still centered on utility.

Bough also spoke about building “digital fitness” at Kraft by looking outside the organization for new ideas, emphasizing experimentation and innovation, and updating the marketing mix in favor of digital media. Whether he can follow through on shifting marketing spend at Kraft toward mobile and other digital areas, of course, remains to be seen.

Bough led off the Jumptap-hosted Mobile Media Upfront in New York featuring a series of panels mostly with agencies and holding companies showcasing their mobile marketing services. The lineup included Aegis Group's Isobar, Havas Digital’s Mobext, IPG’s Mediabrands and Ansible, and WPP mobile arm Joule, and Publicis’ Phonevalley. It may be the only upfront event that focuses on media buyers rather than sellers.

Despite talk of “mobile first” strategies springing up, agency executives expressed frustration with clients’ conservative approach to mobile expansion. They lamented the failure of marketers to optimize brand sites and ad landing pages for mobile screens as well as extending traditional Web ad units and metrics to connected devices. They also faulted publishers for not offering more innovative ad opportunities in mobile.

“I hate seeing a 250 x 300 ad on an iPad,” said Johnny Won, mobile and gaming platform manager at Hill Holliday, arguing that existing ad standards for the desktop Web should not be shoehorned into tablets and other connected devices. That’s partly because few companies -- with exceptions like Flipboard -- are trying to reinvent media for mobile devices, he added.

Colleen Soriano, SVP, managing partner, U.S. integrated investment and digital innovation, Universal McCann, acknowledged that agencies themselves are still figuring out the mechanics of mobile advertising as they were more than a decade ago with online campaigns. “I don’t think we’ve done a great job of it,” she said. “We want to change behavior [via mobile] and not buy or sell crappy ads that won’t get us there.”

That means moving beyond  banner ads and metrics like click-throughs or “tap rates” for mobile campaigns in favor of more innovative ad approaches and a focus on post-click conversions.

Even so, Soriano and other agency panelists said clients are clearly interested in exploiting mobile platforms, especially when it comes to clients like card companies and big retailers that want to build out mobile payments and m-commerce businesses. “The issue is that it’s a bigger task,” said Soriano. “It’s not just a media delivery partnership. It becomes a business partnership.”

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