Rachel Pasqua is vice president of mobile at digital agency iCrossing, where she works with clients including Toyota, Marie Claire and Slacker Radio. Prior to joining iCrossing in 2005,
she was director of strategy at mobile media consultancy Consect. MediaPost recently spoke with her about mobile marketing in 2012, how clients approach mobile and what lies ahead next year.
MP: What developments or trends in mobile marketing or advertising in in 2012 jump out?
Pasqua: Elevated interest in using mobile for both brand and revenue-driven purposes. We do a great deal of search marketing. But we’ve seen a strong and steady increase as mobile becomes a bigger share of overall traffic to the brand Web site.
MP: Where were clients most focused on?
Pasqua: We have some clients this year that were interested in investing in the sexy stuff like Augmented Reality or experimenting with NFC (Near Field Communication), things more on the future-forward fringe. The biggest trend across the board was a lot of clients coming to us and saying we need to figure out our mobile strategy from A to Z.
A lot of our clients -- at least a quarter -- have come to us and said -- we are going to redesign our site next year and we’re going to go the responsive [design] route. They ask for help in doing that and serving mobile users in the interim.
MP: What about clients’ budget allocations for mobile? Much has been made of time spent outpacing ad spend in mobile by something like a 10:1 ratio.
Pasqua: Theoretically, if you’ve got 15% to 20% of your traffic coming from mobile users, then clearly you’d think you’d be spending 15% to 20% of your media budget on trying to capture those users. The challenge is that users are looking at your site with a mobile device and then performing an online action on the desktop or an offline action in the store that can’t be tracked to that ad. So it’s not just a “cookie” problem. But it’s keeping brands from maximizing their investment in mobile to match the opportunity.
MP: Because people aren’t making purchases on their devices after seeing an ad?
Pasqua: If you know the customer is looking at your [mobile] site while in front of the shelf trying to make a decision, you can give them all the information they need to hopefully purchase your product. But if they’re picking it up and taking it to the register, there’s no way for you to measure that action.
We need to come up with a different set of assumed metrics for that type of issue. To assign value to a mobile page view, a mobile unique visitor, a store locator request or a click-to-call. When it comes to media, we’ve been very spoiled by the trackability of online actions, and we don't have an easy way to track that mobile page view to the in-store purchase.
MP: A number of digital wallet initiatives were launched this year that might eventually help close the loop on mobile purchases. Do you see NFC as the leading technology in that race?
Pasqua: Personally, I’m a believer in NFC, and I was disappointed not to see it in this iteration of the iPhone. But I’m also not a believer in anything in digital marketing being a zero-sum game. NFC is going to make a strong push -- you can use Google Wallet almost everywhere you go now if you have Google Wallet. But I also think the Square model with proximity payments is really interesting.
MP: Facebook made a much-publicized push into mobile advertising this year, and a new eMarketer report says it will end the year with the largest share of mobile display ad impressions. Does that make it a must-buy for clients in mobile?
Pasqua: It’s too early to tell. Obviously, many -- if not all -- of our clients are invested in Facebook to some degree. It’s still the biggest social network and has a tremendous amount of traffic both domestically and globally. YSearch is still very intent-driven, so if you’re looking to reach new customers, that’s still the primary focus.
MP: Do you have any big predictions for mobile in 2013?
Pasqua: We’ll see an increase in brands using Passbook, and brands using mobile as a loyalty channel. I do think we’ll see overall spend in mobile increase, especially with brick-and-mortar brands, and increased interest in doing locally oriented and targeted campaigns. Whether it’s through something like shopkick or through Wi-Fi or geo-fencing, I’m see more interest in targeting to location and user preferences.