Saturday, October 4, 2008

Executives from AT&T and Verizon, Coke, Quattro and AdMob fearlessly lead mobile marketing while MMA pulls a rabbit out of it’s hat.

Laura Marriott, MMA’s president opened discussions by announcing that 2009 is the year of mobile advertising, really. I was reminded of Bullwinkle’s asides to Rocket J. Squirrel, “this time for sure Rock,” we’ll see next year if the MMA can pull a rabbit out of it’s hat. Notwithstanding, the industry has more than a few new tricks up its sleeve.

The panel discussions themed Mobile Advertising Insights, featured an impressive cast of characters from advertising, interactive, mobile agency and telecommunications. Google’s director of mobile advertising, Diana Pouliot shared some of Google’s key findings on mobile traffic. One major point worth noting, already far more people surf the mobile web than with ye old desktop computer. As it turns out, people work on desktops and play on mobile phones.

Commentary from AT&T’s executive director of media innovation, Jordan Berman included particularly animated discussion on branding over mobile platforms, establishing subscriber relationships and mobile wallet coupons. T’s case study on 1 800 Flowers revealed a 40% contest conversion rate with 25 percent of participants being acquired virally. Tom Daly, Coca-Cola’s group manager, strategy and planning, global interactive marketing (who is also incidentally MMA chairman) offered a narrative on mobile applications, one of which engaged consumers in voting for commercials that brought Coke an 80 percent response. Similar successes were hailed by Richard Williams, executive director digital media operations, Verizon and Quattro Wireless CEO Andy Miller.

So why wasn’t 2008 the “the year of mobile advertising” as had been previously predicted? If mobile is such an effective channel, why haven’t advertisers moved more of their budgets to these miraculous mobile media channels. I am an advertiser, objective audience attendee and a mobile media evangelist, but if I didn’t know better I might have gotten the impression that I was being pitched on mobile media by panelists.

“Set the Way-Back machine Sherman.” In 2004 mobile carriers didn’t want advertising running amuck with network operations. Meanwhile Back in Frostbite Falls, US carriers had dropped the iron curtain around carrier networks and imposed heavy restrictions on media making it extremely difficult to deliver content on cross carrier networks. So why are carriers suddenly pitching advertisers on the mobile channel? Why Natasha? Because Fearless Leader has a right to change his mind. Secret formula driving wireless carriers’ interest in advertising isn’t network traffic darling, is financial transactions! Nothing else, my little babushka, makes for Moose and Squirrel to spending American greenbacks like advertising media.

No, 2008 was decidedly, not the year of the mobile media boom, but the promise of financial transactions has started the thaw of the mobile media Cold War and with anarchists like Android and Apple, the walls around walled gardens are crumbling like a fractured fairy tale.

The plot thickens this November in San Diego at the MMA Mobile Marketing Forum. Don’t miss our next exciting episode entitled,
“Carrier to Credit Card Network” or “Who Swiped My Mobile Wallet?”

Saturday, August 9, 2008

mobile media by the masses

Mobile is fast becoming the ultimate referral based media channel.
Applications for user generated content, social networking, connectivity, blogging and social media marketing and mobile media access -- available to just about everyone -- are speeding the process.

Applications like Twitter and Loopt are keeping personal networkers in remote contact while social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn aggregate mobile contacts and updates. With Ning, CollectiveX, KickApps and a host of social networking platforms for white labeling your very own network app, it doesn't take a team of web monkeys to build your own social networking application. You can do build your own social networking site in a few hours. The same is true for managing blogs using apps like Typepad and Blogger. If you find professional web development WYSIWYG applications like Dreamweaver daunting, anyone who can point and click can download complete web templates from sites like Hypertemplates and easily update them with Adobe Contribute.

All of this media technology innovation puts more media control in the hands of the masses than ever before thought possible. Which means that media attention may soon be subject to competition from more independent channels. Channels like the guy next door, your friends, your mom. People that don't need additional permission to contact you and people -- according to Harris Interactive -- whose referrals to products and services you trust 60 percent more of the time than the "expert" opinions.

It shouldn't be long before advertisers catch on that Mom is better media placement than media networks. She may have a smaller reach, but her conversion rate is much greater. I'm surprised that all of Internet advertising was still below 10 percent of media spending in 2007. I am not surprised that Internet media (including mobile) was the only media channel with a significant increase in ad spending (15 percent over 2006, nearly all other channels were flat or down from the previous year). Mobile media is just 8 percent of online today but that's pretty decent growth for a media that didn't exist in the US a few short years ago.

The mobile media channel has distinct advantages that no other media does. What other media is as portable, by permission and personalized? The mobile media channel is assured of success for these reasons and more but it is really going to flourish with the adoption web based applications available for the masses.
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