MMA's Greg Stuart: Let The 'Age Of Mobile' Begin

by , Dec 13, 2012, 9:22 AM
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Greg-Stuart"We are so over declaring a 'year of mobile'," claims the Mobile Marketing Association's CEO Greg Stuart. As Stuart argues in our year-end check-in with the head of mobile marketing's most important coalition, let's just call it the "age of mobile" now. There are enough end-of year "predictions" flying around the trade press this month. We were more interested in what the MMA's agenda for 2013 was all about. Stuart tells us that the MMA consulted some of the leading brands about how and why the industry needs to get behind a new positioning for itself in the marketing mix.

Mobile Marketing Daily: One of the memes around mobile marketing is that usage/spending "gap." As you talk to brand marketers about their mobile marketing spend, what do you glean as holding back marketing dollars?

Stuart: Simply put, marketers need the security of research. With the data uncovered in the MMA's Mobile X% Solution, brands should allocate on average 7% of their overall advertising spend to mobile. Marketers will achieve better sales from their overall campaign if they invest more in mobile. However, reallocating investments is a challenge for marketers, which is why the MMA is providing additional evidence that proves mobile’s strength as an ROI builder.

SMoX.me (Smart Mobile Cross Marketing Effectiveness) will scientifically assess the interaction of mobile channels and platforms in relation to the broader marketing mix (TV, radio, magazines, Internet, etc). This research will help marketers understand how to optimize their marketing mix by rebalancing investments. We have lined up category-leading marketers, as well as research partner Nielsen, to perform the cross-marketing studies. I expect the initial findings mid-next year.

While research will inspire marketers to rethink their overall marketing strategy, the gap between usage and spending goes beyond just numbers. It has a lot to do with brand readiness. Marketers like Mondelez International that have committed to spend 10%+ on mobile are eons ahead of the majority of brands that spend less than 1%. I attribute that gap to a lack of education across mobile platforms and tools. Michael Collins, CEO of Joule, explained that many marketers think mobile is just apps so when their app is less than successful, as many brand apps are, they believe mobile doesn’t work for their company.

MMD: In talking with the brands, do you think there is a better and more convincing way to position mobile marketing as integral to their mix?

Stuart: The MMA created a new positioning for mobile marketing that speaks to the effectiveness of mobile as a channel and the advantages mobile marketing offers to the industry at large.

The positioning, "Nothing gets marketers and consumers closer than mobile," is part of an overall promise that mobile presents an intimate, emotional and physical connection with consumers that far surpasses the ability of any other channel, digital or traditional. It was created amongst members of the MMA Global Board under the guidance of former P&G CMO Jim Stengel, who initiated an exercise on mobile’s potential and power.

Through this exercise, we identified the strongest offerings that mobile presents to marketers -- including its ability to optimize ROI, transform businesses and marketing models, as well as connect with next-generations and emerging markets. Consumers are already mobile-savvy. It is a screen they feel confident to use for entertainment, social, communication, gaming, and now commerce. If our objective as marketers and providers is to "go where the consumers are and get there first" then when it comes to mobile, we are trailing behind.

That is why we positioned mobile with language that simply explains the value it offers marketers today and for their future marketing strategy.

MMD: Why do you think it is important to "reposition" the mobile value proposition at this point? Is it a course correction or a natural part of the platform's evolution?

Stuart: It is both a natural evolution and course correction. All marketers understand that any "product" -- in this case mobile marketing -- needs a unique positioning.

Initially some marketers approached mobile as an afterthought or as the "second or third" screen. Today it is the first screen -- when a consumer travels throughout their day they turn to their mobile device to review their social profiles, check the weather, read the news, play games or watch a video. Mobile is with them every step of the way -- not only on the go, but now more in the home as well.

That said, the language and messaging on mobile needs to evolve at an equal pace as the media, and so the MMA is leading the charge to provide content that speaks to the reality and potential of mobile marketing. I am not sure I would call it a "reposition," but rather a positioning that finally fits the magnitude of mobile.

MMD: Another commonplace complaint about mobile is its relative metrics weakness, and that it is hard to buy against what you can't measure, or at least measure in ways comparable to other media. How true is this, and how and where will it change when the market is inherently fragmented?

Stuart:  Hard has little to do with it, as the decision to invest more in mobile, or any channel, should be based on its value or ROI. And as previous studies on ROI indicate, and SMoX.me will further prove, mobile offers significant value. Marketers should also look at the competitive advantage that mobile presents to get ahead of the pack.

Focusing on measurement, there is more work to be done for mobile metrics, as we are just scratching the surface. But data rules all. Having intimate consumer knowledge that your competition doesn’t is powerful. Mobile goes beyond impression count, and when properly implemented can be used to monitor consumer engagement across the entire "path to purchase." Application engagement, push notifications, mobile Web traffic, ad response, etc. are all platforms that can be tracked, and thus reveal more quantifiable and quantitative data than many forms of traditional measurement. Truth is, mobile metrics are not only scalable but also provide breadcrumbs of data in which consumer behavior can be tracked and targeted.

I also believe that marketers are shaken by the growth of mobile and overwhelmed with how to get their brand ready for a mobile-first strategy. So while their concern over metrics is somewhat valid, as mobile metrics are still in its infancy, I also see it as an excuse to resist investing more in mobile even though there is research that strongly suggests otherwise.

MMD:  In its first years the MMA was extremely effective in establishing best practices around respectful use of marketing channels (double opt-ins, etc.) that essentially became encoded and enforced by the carriers. Those days of carrier-enforcement of best practices are long gone. Moving forward, how does the MMA help promote standards, both in ad formats and in marketing policies (privacy, opt-ins, metrics)?

Stuart:  Enforcing carrier practices is still important component of the mobile ecosystem. In fact, we recently released “US Consumer Best Practices for Messaging” (CBP 7.0) which provides standards and guidance for mobile messaging.

In 2012, we issued standards and white papers on areas like mobile analytics, messaging, web-based advertising measurement, ad unit specs (Universal Mobile Ad Package) and rich media metrics. Additionally, the MMA led the charge on a recent FCC Declaratory Ruling in which one of our members, SoundBite, filed a petition stating that a confirmatory stop text message, a text sent to a consumer in response to an opt-out request, does not violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). It was a huge win for the MMA and for messaging as a marketing platform.

In 2013, we will be authoring a number of guidelines and best practices based on MUIDs and privacy, video standards, as well as additional work with apps, mobile analytics and commerce.

MMD: What are the MMA's priorities for the next year? What would you like it to have accomplished by this time in 2013?

Stuart: 2013 is the year we revolutionize mobile marketing. We will be tackling a number of industry challenges with the SMoX.me study as well as applying our positioning not only as language for MMA members to adopt but also for the industry to use as a battle cry to increase their investment and education on mobile marketing.

However, I hope that 2013 is not classified as another "Year of Mobile" because I think we have moved past defining the turning point for mobile marketing. We are in the "Age of Mobile" as mobile devices continue to alter our society, completely revamp how we interact not only as brand to consumer but person to person, and provide a new canvas for creative campaigns.

My "resolution," if you will, for mobile marketing in 2013 is to reduce industry friction and confusion by providing direction, best practices and informative papers that educate the industry on the evolution of mobile as a viable marketing tool. We have a number of research studies, whitepapers and standards coming out in the first few months of 2013, setting the tone for the MMA throughout the year. The only way mobile marketing will progress is if brands are ready, educated and prepared, to tackle a dynamic mobile vision. And that is the responsibility of the MMA -- we are the leading global trade association for mobile and it is up to us to provide direction for our 700+ global members and the industry at large.

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