Brand and Deliver
Every year for at least the last five years has been declared the ‘Year of Mobile’ by those predicting trends in media. Every year, huge growth in mobile ad spend is predicted. The reality is, this year, just like every year before, mobile is still a long way from claiming a revenue share which reflects its growing importance in the media mix.
This year’s IAB/PwC mobile advertising report showed that in the UK, mobile ad spend had increased to £203m for 2011. An impressive figure at first glance, yet this is still only around 5 per cent of brands’ spend on TV or online’s. This despite that fact that mobile’s share of media consumption is around one third that of TV or fixed internet; or even more if you factor in mobile’s increasing dual/triple screen usage.
So what are the reasons for this discrepancy? Primarily, mobile is a challenging environment; there are actually multiple media being consumed when mobile is used, each with different formats. There are tightly-controlled ways of accessing each of these, and each operating system has different regulations.
The impact of all this is simple – mobile ads are hard to target, hard to manage, and restrictive in terms of what they can measure. Mobile can potentially provide great geo-targeting, but by restricting third-party cookies, Apple’s iOS platform lacks the usual mechanism to track users for data-driven or behavioural targeting. As a result, most ads are sold on a cost-per-click basis, to allow a simple ROI to be managed.
Brand advertising on mobile is largely conspicuous by its absence. Other than through digital print and a small but growing number of branded apps (almost certainly both representing test campaigns rather than general marketing), the majority of brands have yet to venture onto mobile platforms.
Brand advertising relies on delivering against three fundamental requirements, in order to be successful; (a) reaching a target audience; (b) conveying a message; and (c) measuring the brand impact of that message.
Mobile has challenges in all three requirements; (a) audience information is hard to collect and even harder to maintain in an environment where cookies are strictly controlled; (b) messages are limited to either basic formats or require multiple creative executions; and (c) the same limitations as every other medium apply – traditionally, brand impact can only be measured using expensive, post-campaign market research.
Thankfully, things are beginning to improve. Certainly, mobile-specific ad platforms have improved dramatically in their ability to deliver rich formats across operating systems and mobile web environments. Technology vendors, like ourselves, who have specialized in brand engagement tools in digital advertising, have succeeded in creating audience and brand measurement tools for mobile.
With these advances, a brand advertiser can (a) choose an audience based on social demographics and product preferences; (b) deliver a rich, engaging message to them on any phone; and (c) understand what portion of the total audience they’ve reached, and the impact it has had on brand recognition, brand affinity and intent to purchase.
In reality, the only thing holding back brands from embracing mobile more fully is time. The technology exists, the audiences exist, the medium is maturing, and the opportunity is rife. As media owners begin to implement the latest technology on their mobile properties, the long-awaited ‘Year of Mobile’ perhaps tiptoes slowly towards becoming a reality.
Ben Humphrey is country director, UK and Ireland at nugg:ad