Agencies develop formal mobile units

Forward looking direct marketing agencies are bolstering their mobile marketing capabilities to offer better expertise, broader options and greater integration with other advertising and marketing solutions. Although some agencies have incorporated mobile into campaigns for years, many firms are now establishing their prowess with the platform to make it a standard offering for clients, say industry experts.

In the past three months, integrated firms Draftfcb and Alterian have announced formal partnerships with mobile marketing firms, while Omnicom Group media firm OMD and ad agency Mullen have established their own internal divisions to oversee mobile strategy. Their common goal is to incorporate mobile into clients’ marketing more effectively, providing the most current tools and research for this rapidly evolving platform.

“We have to build out mobile as a discipline, as a delivery strategy and a technology piece,” said Chris Miller, EVP and group management director of digital for Draftfcb Chicago. “At the same time, our approach isn’t to deliver mobile only, but to really build it across the many integrated solutions of advertising and marketing.”

Draftfcb Chicago is moving beyond to the common piecemeal approach mobile tactics. While it conducted campaigns under different pricing schemes, the goal of its partnership with mobile marketing firm Velti is to give clients standardized mobile offerings.

Miller points to Draftfcb’s recent “Refuel with Chocolate Milk” campaign, conducted with the Milk Processor Education Program, as an example of how to use mobile to engage consumers in a large mass media effort. The campaign featured customized workout tips from athletes, but it also included print, digital and out-of-home advertising to promote the health benefits of chocolate milk.

Michael Harrison, EVP and chief strategy officer at Razor, an Alterian agency partner, said brands can use mobile to engage consumers more quickly than through other media.

“It’s 11 o’clock and they get a text about a value meal or a discount of ‘x’ percent off — those people are going to be engaged,” he said. “We know they’re going to see that message in a timely fashion, whereas with e-mail, you’re not guaranteed.”

“Mobile is wide, deep and very complex, if you look at all the pieces that are possible,” said Neil Strother, analyst at technology market research firm ABI Research. “There are so many ways of using it that many marketers are daunted by it, asking, ‘Do we do an SMS campaign? Do we do a mobile video campaign? Do we do coupons?’ You can get lost in the complexity.”

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