A lack of analytics, audience size and fragmentation are among the still face mobile marketers despite the growth mobile media consumptions, according to a new report from digital agency 360i. When it comes to research on mobile usage and advertising, for instance, the firm points out that it's often not as extensive as that covering Web sites and Internet users.
That puts the onus on marketers to focus on gathering data from their own mobile initiatives. Marketers need to analyze how mobile users are accessing their mobile sites and how those behavior patterns match up with what users are doing online," advises 360i. "This can be even more complicated if there separate mobile sites and applications."
The agency also acknowledges that fragmentation among handset types, operating systems is an ongoing hurdle that confronts advertisers in the mobile realm. The fractured landscape makes it tougher to target audiences and develop creative units that work across all devices included in a media plan.
Closely related to the fragmentation problem is that of audience scale in mobile. In the coming years, for instance, mobile search will grow faster than global Web searches, but mobile query volume by 2012 will still only amount to about a quarter of searches on the PC-based Web. That often leaves marketers with a choice of targeting iPhone users or trying to reach a broader audience across different devices and operating systems.
The 360i report also highlights the paradox that advertising costs in mobile tend to be too high or too low. Ad rates tend to be higher than what marketers are used to paying for equivalent inventory online. While the premium can be justified by higher brand impact, it can also make ads harder to sell.
"Alternatively, marketers will often run mobile campaigns with minuscule trial budgets so the impact underwhelms, and there isn't a chance to optimize the campaign," according to 360i. Advertisers then end up dismissing the medium as ineffective.
Mobile also simply involves formats and technologies distinct from online advertising from text messaging to check-in deals to mobile barcodes. That means marketers face a big learning curve before exploiting ad and commerce opportunities via mobile.
That all said, the agency encourages marketers to overcome these obstacles because of the growing audience shift from the PC to connected devices. "We're now at a turning point where mobile usage is prominent enough for it to be a viable marketing channel for any kind of marketer or brand, the report states. "At some point, mobile media usage will likely rival and surpass Internet usage, and this will fundamentally change how marketers find and build relationships with their target audience."
Gartner predicted earlier this year that mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access devices worldwide by 2013. It estimates the installed base of smartphones and browser-equipped phones will reach 1.82 billion units by 2013, eclipsing the total of 1.78 billion PCs.