Growing mobile usage calls for more budgetary allocations
The outlook for mobile advertising, marketing and media is bright for 2014 – but it could be brighter. What is obvious is the wholesale consumer migration to mobile media for content, commerce and communications. But marketers have been rather slow in catching on.
As this edition of Mobile Marketer’s Mobile Outlook 2014 points out, marketers across categories are embracing mobile in the multichannel – OK, omnichannel – marketing mix with gusto. But their progress seems at times a little too cautious for their own good. This is not the year to prevaricate or wring hands or even ask questions over the efficacy of mobile – that horse has long bolted. The discussions this year should center on budgets and integration.
Plumbing and wiring
Marketing spend follows eyeballs, but that is not happening with mobile. Why advertising agencies are still coy about mobile spend is a puzzle. Why marketers are not questioning conventional wisdom on media spend allocation based on audience aggregation is also puzzling. If they are waiting for a catalyst or a hallelujah moment, do not expect that in mobile.
Indeed, mobile usage is growing by stealth. By some accounts, more than two-thirds of all mobile phones in U.S. hands are smartphones with the ability to do everything a computer can and then some. Consumption of some categories threatens to become a one- or two-medium affair: news, books, travel and entertainment, for instance. But advertising is not trending in that direction, and for that brands and agencies have to jump off the fence, pull the trigger, show their hands – choose the cliché, but they have got to integrate their brand presence into consumers’ mobile lifestyles or else.
As time passes, it is also becoming clear that mobile may not be the panacea for certain sectors. News publishers, much to their chagrin, are learning that advertisers are not migrating ad spend to mobile in the numbers they had anticipated. Add to that woes resulting from programmatic buying. The process of media buying now is commoditized and ad rates are not holding up. The only way out for media then is to charge for consuming content – take a hit in the first year or so, but readers will come around if the content is unique and the media brand strong. But that trigger has to be pulled this year and next. The deterioration in the fiscal health of media brands is a danger to the growth of mobile advertising. There is no sugar-coating that. And no, native advertising will not pay the bills, not when advertisers realize that it is hard to measure and that consumers may get turned off if ads get confused for content.
On the other hand, retailers are getting mobile right, even if brands are overly cautious. Mobile has become the wiring and plumbing of retail, with impressive progress in integrating mobile calls to action in-store and in the vicinity. Much to their credit, retailers in the Fortune 100 are developing sophisticated mobile programs including everything from acquisition to retention to reactivation initiatives. That is where other sectors should look for inspiration.
Overall, mobile usage is up. Online companies are restyling themselves as mobile firms. Smart marketers are integrating mobile across departments. The discussion this year has to center on how much more money to allocate to integrate mobile into overall marketing and retail initiatives. Those sitting on the fence may find the land sold on either side.