Q&A: 360i's David Berkowitz On Mobile Marketing

With the release of 360i's Mobile Marketing Playbook last week, Online Media Daily asked David Berkowitz, who leads the digital agency's emerging media and innovation practice, to discuss some of the topics covered in the guide including a range of topics that span mobile advertising, applications and m-commerce. Berkowitz is also a contributor to the MediaPost's Social Insider column and a contributor to Ad Age's Digital Next blog. Here's what he had to say about the mobile landscape:

OMD: Mobile still isn't a mass medium. What's the main reason marketers should care about it?

Berkowitz:I can't say I agree with the question. iSuppli just reported it expects worldwide subscriptions for wireless subscriptions to reach 5 billion sometime this month. Pew's latest research shows 82% of Americans use mobile phones. Sure, various aspects of mobile -- Web usage, apps, smartphone penetration -- have plenty of room to grow, but mobile is unquestionably mass today. That's one major reason marketers should care about it, and the other is that within a few years it will attract wider and more frequent usage than online.

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OMD: What is the key consideration in deciding whether to focus on apps or the mobile Web in mobile efforts? Will that distinction become less important over the next couple of years?

Berkowitz:The first thing a marketer should do is check their own Web site analytics and see how much traffic is coming from people using mobile operating systems today. That may make a clear case, if the traffic is high enough, that it's time to focus immediately on a strong mobile Web presence. Mobile sites are increasingly resembling apps today, and the line will blur much more in the coming years. Apps do have some advantages today -- especially for attracting repeat usage -- but they tend to have high development, maintenance, and promotion costs depending on what they're designed to do.

OMD: Should retailers hold off on using barcodes as part of mobile promotions for now in favor of more established ways of offering special deals or coupons via mobile like text messaging?

Berkowitz: It depends what the goals are for retailers using barcodes. If it's about testing and learning, now is a great time to try barcodes. And some barcode scanning apps such as ShopSavvy are starting to gain traction. There can also be some buzz and public relations value for programs reaching early adopters. Text messaging will still be the best way to gain mass reach via mobile marketing for the next couple years.

OMD: What's the most overhyped technology or format related to mobile marketing? Augmented reality, perhaps?

Berkowitz: It's funny you mention augmented reality. I'm still waiting to see a use of augmented reality on mobile devices that provides a better experience than lower-tech options. If you're trying to find a nearby restaurant, for instance, it's so much easier with a 2D map or list of text links. As for the most overhyped app, I'm in awe of Shopkick's marketing machine. They may be on to something, but it's a little early for all the coverage of them in the mainstream press.

OMD: What's the biggest shortcoming of agencies in developing mobile campaigns or other mobile initiatives for clients?

Berkowitz: The biggest challenge for agencies and marketers is integration. Mobile marketing tends to work best when it ties in with various consumer touchpoints across online and offline media. Mobile is also so vast that institutional knowledge must be spread across a range of people and not just siloed specialists.

OMD: Is social media marketing on mobile all about location? If so, is it more geared to small businesses than big brands?

Berkowitz: Location is central to many forms of mobile social media, but it's much bigger than check-in apps. People are already using Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other social media services on their mobile devices, and not all of those uses involve location. There are plenty of other uses of mobile social media, such as logging into a mobile game with Facebook Connect or writing a blog post on the go.

As for the location-based check-in apps, small businesses can get a lot of value out of them, but location tends to be relevant for all brands. Retail is more obvious when there are physical locations, but even consumer packaged goods are bought and consumed in certain locales.

OMD: Will Google be as dominant in search in mobile as on the desktop, as now appears the case in terms of market share?

Berkowitz: Google has a running start. Microsoft has a deal with Verizon that will help, but long-term the default deals won't matter nearly as much as consumer preference. Android will only help Google's mission, and the new Windows Phone models coming out will have a lot of catching up to do.

 

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