The Promise And Pitfalls Awaiting Mobile Marketers

As a speaker at the recent Mobile Media Summit in San Francisco, I met up with many like-minded mobile executives who all agreed that mobile advertising will continue its tremendous growth in 2013 and beyond. The current forecast is for worldwide mobile advertising revenue to reach $11.4 billion in 2013, with expectations taking it to a level of $24.5 billion in 2016, per tech research firm Gartner.

In meeting the promise of those figures, brands and agencies will need to evolve just how they utilize mobile as an advertising vehicle. They will need to look at different mobile advertising models compared to traditional desktop advertising in order to get in front of their audience at the right place at the right time.

Here are several current examples of different mobile advertising models:

  • Kiip is a mobile app rewards network that enables brands to provide consumers with tangible rewards for virtual achievements. An example of this type of advertising is when a user passes a certain level while playing a game and  are served an ad for a $5 Best Buy gift card. Kiip’s model is based on “every achievement deserves an award.”
  • LocalResponse allows brands to respond to real-time consumer intent on social platforms like Twitter. Imagine a consumer tweeting “I’m hungry!” A quick-service restaurant (QSR) could retarget that consumer with an ad seconds later, offering them a coupon or incentive to visit the restaurant.
  • Zoove’s StarStar offering is a new type of phone number that allows brands to deliver a mobile experience to any phone through a simple phone call. After the consumer dials the phone number they receive branded audio content and are immediately sent a text message with further information, such as a link to download an app. A recent campaign I came across that integrated Zoove’s technology was from Home Depot.  The commercial promoted Home Depot’s bath products and featured a CTA at the end of the spot: “Dial **THD to learn more about our bath products.”
  • Facebook’s mobile advertising products allow brands to get in front of consumers while they check their social network activity. A significant example of these mobile ad products is Facebook's app install ad unit, designed to drive downloads. The ad unit shows up in the user's NewsFeed with an ‘Install Now.” Once users click on the ad, they are driven to the iTunes App store or Android Google Play Store.

A further promise, and very interesting challenge, is the opportunity to integrate mobile within traditional channels such as TV, print, and in-store. Many brands are still looking at mobile as its own separate channel and/or line item; but truth be told, for those seeking success, brands need to have a mobile-first approach.  Starbucks is a good example of a brand that has the right mentality. The coffee giant has implemented its own mobile-first strategy that creates an ongoing relationship between the brand and consumer. Starbucks utilizes many different facets of mobile including SMS, mobile Web, applications, QR Codes, mobile payments, and mobile advertising. Although Starbucks utilizes other media channels as well, they clearly see the value in mobile.

Using Apps

Brands that are utilizing applications as part of their mobile marketing strategy are also capitalizing on one of the leading promises of mobile.  With roughly 120 million smartphone devices and 40-50 million tablets in the U.S. alone, many brands are already looking at apps to increase awareness and brand loyalty.  On average a user downloads roughly 50 applications throughout a two-year contract, but only uses about 10 of these applications on a regular basis.  

To increase awareness and brand loyalty, these applications need to create motivation for the user to come back, otherwise the application just sits on the phone or is deleted.  Not surprisingly, industries such as finance, travel, retail, and social, because they provide everyday utility to the consumer, have an advantage over other industries when it comes to the shelf life of an application.


As marketers move forward in mobile, they need to watch out for certain pitfalls that can not only obstruct business, but may permanently alienate customers. These major pitfalls include: 

  • Taking a one-size-fits-all approach

It’s important to develop a cross-platform strategy for mobile. Different devices have unique requirements.  The key is to be sure the consumer experience is consistent across all devices.

  • Directing users to a non-optimized mobile experience

Because of the growth of mobile advertising, the focus is largely centered on the advertising itself, and not the experience after clicking on the ad. Brands need to ensure that the experience after clicking on the ad is optimized for mobile.

  • Using the same strategy for PC and mobile

Brands need to take advantage of specific mobile device features such as the camera, GPS, and, accelerometer.  Utilizing these specific device features can enhance mobile advertising campaigns.

  • Creating an app for one platform

Just creating an iPhone application these days won’t cut it. Due to the growth of different operating systems (OS) such as Android and Windows, consumers now have numerous devices options.

As we head up the road into 2013, using mobile is no longer an “if” but a “when” question for most brands.  Marketers with a better understanding of how to fit mobile into their marketing mix, coupled with wisdom to acknowledge and avoid its major pitfalls, are those most likely to be the leaders  in making use of mobile’s full promise and value.

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