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Mobile Marketing - The Elephant In the Room for Marketers

"A difficult situation that is very obvious but not discussed or addressed."

That's just one of I'm sure many definitions of the phrase "elephant in the room." Frankly I don't really care which definition you subscribe to. The fact of the matter is that mobile marketing - despite all it's continued hype and promise has been severely under utilized by marketers of all shapes and sizes.

English: A female African Bush Elephant in Mik...

And the word "continued" is absolutely the operative word in the sentence above.

Last week in a piece for Digiday, Brian Morrissey wrote of the Ad Industry Lies and at the top of his list was mobile:

"1. It’s the Year of Mobile (for the fourth year in a row)
Everyone talks about the power of mobile and how it will change advertising. But the truth is, no one has figured it out yet. Mobile advertising is like going back to the internet 1995, except on a much smaller screen."

Did you catch the "fourth year in a row" reference? Think about it. How many times have we all heard that this year is the year of mobile?

About a month ago I wrote a piece entitled Mobile Marketing Too Large For Brands To Ignore which featured a very telling quote from  Mark DonovancomScore SVP of mobile: "“With nearly 86 million Americans now shopping on their smartphones, this pronounced shift in consumer behavior is simply too large for retailers to ignore, with the future of their business depending on how well they adapt to the new environment.”

According to eMarketer:

  • Time spent using mobile devices for activities such as internet and app use, gaming, music and others has more than doubled in the past two years.
  • This year, the amount of time US consumers spent using mobile devices—excluding talk time—will grow 51.9% to an average 82 minutes per day, up from just 34 minutes in 2010

So we know consumers are more and more turning to their mobile phones to do well, pretty much everything but first and foremost they are using it to spend money, to buy your products, services and wares.

Then how do you explain that, according to the Chief Marketing Council, a mere 16% of companies have a mobile marketing strategy to establish and foster customer engagement which theoretically leads directly to more sales?

Or, also according to eMarketer, that less than 2% of all U.S. marketing spending, or just $2.6 billion, to go toward mobile advertising?

Is The Price Not Right?

As per a recent infographic the Wall Street Journal released "the cost and market for mobile ads remains relatively small compared to other outlets like television and the Web."

I realize these are estimates and best-guesses and all that but the infograph clearly shows that mobile ads are the least expensive medium for advertising at just $2.85 which is half the price of ads on the internet and ten times cheaper than those on tv.

And by no means am I stating that all marketers should suddenly shift all ad dollars into mobile. Of course not.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge proponent for creating an integrated marketing strategy.

The point is that marketers can obviously see the massive shift into mobile marketing and mobile advertising. There is most assuredly a tremendous opportunity to set yourself apart from your competition by taking full advantage of the fact that more and more consumers are going mobile. And isn't that Marketing 101? Be where your customers are. Get your message in front of the right people at the right time on the right platforms?

Sounds easy when I put it that way.

Sources: eMarketerWall Street Journal

Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred, Steve Olenski is a senior content strategist at Responsys, a leading global provider of on-demand email and cross-channel marketing solutions. 

Join The Conversation

  • Nov 10 Posted 4 years ago CBD

    Great post, I am into mobile marking at the moment. I would like also to see some data about sales. I think local business have a lot to win with mobile marketing.

  • Nov 6 Posted 4 years ago jennmschultz

    This was an interesting and comprehensive post addressing an issue that was hidden right in front of us, so to speak. As a current undergraduate student interested in pursuing a career in advertising, I see that mobile is generally not a widely-discussed topic in the IMC field, and is often treated as more of an afterthought to a campaign rather than a vital component. Considering how quickly mobile has been growing, it is puzzling as to why marketers have not taken advantage of the considerably-sized and untapped audience that exists on mobile platforms, especially because of mobile’s relatively low costs to reach such a large audience. 

    I completely agree that mobile should only be one facet of an integrated marketing campaign, but this aspect is severely lacking at the moment: as you mentioned in your post, only 16 percent of companies have a mobile marketing strategy. It seems that mobile marketing has so many possibilities, but marketers have not figured out a way to creatively integrate them and have not capitalized on trends that are at play in the market today. App usage has overtaken web browser usage on mobile devices, but companies seem to create apps as more of a public relations strategy as opposed to an advertising strategy, and the advertisements that are placed in apps use the relatively ineffective “spray and pray” technique that the Wall Street Journal article mentions. Another trend in the mobile market is obviously texting, but marketers have not seemed to make use of this, either, except in the PR-style dissemination of information or in direct marketing campaigns that users can easily take for spam. Do you think there is a way for advertisers to combine many of these trends to create a solid and effective campaign, or would it be more effective for them to devote their energies into entirely new mobile strategies?

    Additionally, when I think about mobile advertising, I cannot think of any particular campaign that has been extremely creative or innovative, or one that has stuck with me. From my experiences, it seems as though mobile advertising is relegated to banner ads or quick shorts before applications launch, or in a completely different sector as text messages largely seen as junk mail. Could it simply be that we have not seen a campaign that has brought mobile platforms to the forefront of advertising discussions, especially in terms of creativity? Or does mobile just not lend itself to the creativity that advertising agencies have come to pride themselves on?

    Your post was enlightening and drew attention to problems in the advertising world today, and I would be interested to hear in which direction you think the mobile field is heading. Though most people would probably not want their phones to be bombarded with advertising campaigns, hopefully we will see a better usage of marketing tactics in the mobile sector soon.

    -Jennifer Schultz

  • Nov 5 Posted 4 years ago DavidGraham

    Hi Steve

    Thanks for a wonderful piece of writting as you really zeroed-in on this topic.

    I've been in the marketing & technology areas of large corporates for almost 40 years so you can work out I'm almost a 'Senior' as we say here in Australia. My jobs required me to be available 24/5 back in the 70's & 80's, and then 24/7 as I moved into 2nd, 3rd and 4th Gen models. 

    While I could make many observations on this topic, the most inportant one is that Ads. being made for today's 4Gen devices must be produced specifically for them. 

    I'm a heavy iPhone 4s user and despair at the quality of Ads. that are pushed to me each day.   

    As the newer cell phones seem to be growing screen sizes, this will be more critical. It would be a real shame if advertisers just think they can send downloads of TV ads. and then wonder why they get so little take-up.


  • nikosrentas's picture
    Nov 4 Posted 4 years ago nikosrentas

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the article! We just launched a new product that creates mobile marketing apps. What we thought would be an easy sell to the majority has been quite the opposite.. we are finding that a certain amount of education needs to be applied during the sales process if the company is not in the "now" for technology... its not like social media that is more or less feeling like a requirement for most businesses.

  • RGBSocial's picture
    Nov 2 Posted 4 years ago RGBSocial

    Hi Steve – Thanks for the great post. I agree that huge opportunity exists to ‘figure out’ mobile. As of now, when you look at the ad units that are available, they all seem to essentially be mobile versions of ad units for PCs; mobile banners and posters are highly reminiscent of leaderboards, and pre-roll is – well – pre-roll. Unless I’m unaware of inventory that’s available, I don’t think there’s been a killer mobile ad unit created to fully take advantage of the platform, which I think is a big problem/opportunity, and something I think is necessary for mobile advertising to gain traction.

    As a quick second comment, I would be very interested to see some data such as sales, affinity, or awareness scores overlaid on the CPM figures for TV, online, and mobile ads to see which yields the greatest conversion rates despite the cost discrepancy.

    Thanks again for the post.


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