Mobile forging new partnerships
As the mobile marketing channel begins to grow up, there are many different kinds of vendors and agencies working in the space. Playboy, for example, is working with Quattro Wireless on its mobile Web efforts, while Kroger is working with Cellfire on mobile couponing. AndAgency.com is trying to meet with as many partners in the mobile space as it can, which now include publishers such as Reuters on the publisher side and Enpocket on the vendor side.
“There are so many players in the market right now with so many different offerings, but I think as we evolve out of the infancy phase we are going to see some convergence as the leaders in the space begin to emerge,” Winter predicts.
While mobile marketing is still only a small part of advertising spend, it is increasing, Winter adds. “Most Agency.com clients move money away from display ads to do mobile testing, as it is still difficult to convince anyone to take budget away from traditional media,” he explains. Average mobile budgets for Agency.com clients, he says, have shifted from 2% of overall spend last year to 7%-10% this year.
As the channel blossoms, it is not without its challenges. One issue is the learning curve. Both brands and consumers often don't know what is possible. To address this, marketers are trying to educate consumers about features and to make them simpler to use.
“Even though the device is ever-present, it is going to be a while before the consumer is ... engaging with the brand all day, so the interactions have to be quick,” Winter says. “The campaign should be about immediacy and urgency.”
Another challenge is that measurement is not standardized — a common issue faced by other marketing channels, including the strongly established e-mail channel. “We need to develop a standard way to measure response rates for the industry, because at this point every operator has their own way to differentiate ROI,” says Marriott, who adds that the MMA is working on a plan to define common metrics including terms such as “impression” and “click.”
The industry self-regulates its best practices as well as its metrics. Among other things, the MMA recommends a strict opt-in process for the mobile phone. The organization also encourages marketers to be clear in their messaging and make sure consumers understand if they are signing up for a subscription, as costs are sometimes incurred on the part of the consumer.
Despite the challenges, Marriott believes that the mobile world is an open playing field. “Mobile will become the first screen, since it is a way to reach the consumer with relevant messages in the moment where they are,” he says.