Media: Double Standards - Can mobile become fully integrated this year?

Mobile is still a developing medium, but clients are now waking up to the potential of reaching nearly everyone in the country, two experts say.

NICK ELSOM, head of digital, PHD

- How has mobile developed in the past year?

Mobile has become the front line of the battleground between the major players. Google bought AdMob, and at a stroke became the world's largest mobile ad network. It also became the largest mobile operating system when Android overtook Nokia's Symbian. Apple introduced iPhone 4 and iOS4 to consolidate its market position, and launched iAds, which could bring significant increases in brand budgets due to its sophisticated offering. Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7, which it is relying on to stay in the game. New ad formats were launched such as click to call and iPhone calendar entry ads. And increasingly sophisticated tracking became a hot topic, with publishers coming under pressure to allow third-party ad serving.

- How can mobile be efficiently integrated into a media plan?

Mobile needs to be briefed, planned and reported on alongside other media. Currently, mobile is one of the last areas to be allocated budget. Mobile concepts should be both supportive of other media and be able to lead them. To deliver this level of integrated planning requires comms planners to work closely with mobile specialists.

- What are the challenges in making this happen?

Mobile is an immature medium, and the same planning challenges exist as elsewhere in digital. KPIs often don't lend themselves to mobile and its tracking limitations, hence greater thought is required from the outset. Central concepts are needed that can be translated into mobile, but mobile also needs the ability to drive concepts that are the hub of activity. This type of planning will require significant investment in education for comms planners on mobile, as well as changes to working methods.

- How important is mobile marketing now?

The 2009 Internet Advertising Bureau/PricewaterhouseCoopers figures showed that mobile accounts for 1 per cent of digital spend (£37.6 million), which suggests it's still potentially important rather than reality. Consumers are on board, with 38 per cent of them having used their phone for surfing the net, and there are more phones in the UK than people! The challenge is the mobile ad model hasn't really been figured out yet, and there is no killer ad format, in the way that search rose to the fore on computers.

- How interested are clients in the medium?

Most clients own a smartphone so they get the potential but, until volume exists, they are not putting too much emphasis on mobile.

- How much do clients understand the medium?

There is limited understanding among clients, with most of them not running more than limited search or display activity at present.

SHAUN GREGORY, managing director, O2 Media

- How has mobile developed in the past year?

Figures from the Internet Advertising Bureau show that mobile advertising grew by 116 per cent last year. It's the fastest-growing advertising medium and remains the most exciting way for brands to enjoy personal dialogue with consumers. Richer formats, personalised messaging - such as O2 More and Orange Shots - and location based-targeting have all now landed. Equally, the big players have stepped in and started to invest. Mobile Media Metrics and the Wholesale Application Community are two great examples of how the industry, and the players within it, are changing. The days of questioning "is this the year of mobile?" seem behind us all, at last.

- How can mobile be efficiently integrated into a media plan?

Planners, buyers and marketing directors need to stop looking at bolting-on mobile, and see it more as the glue that holds everything together. There are endless opportunities that range from creating experiences (app or site based), right through to formats that integrate "click to call" and other functionality, including making payments with your phone.

- What are the challenges in making this happen?

The existing trading models make it challenging for mobile to scale. It's also time complex and time consuming to plan. It's possibly much easier to plan something more traditional, but the agencies and brands need to challenge themselves more. All the major players, including O2, are now better equipped to deliver on the mobile promise.

The primary challenge for brands is to move from "test" to "invest", and not to get hung up on pure response.

- How important is mobile marketing now?

A global marketing director recently told me that online and mobile investment will move from 5 per cent to 50 per cent within the next five years. People are starting to realise that the channel has a greater role than first envisaged. Browsing from fixed line to mobile has accelerated faster than people thought, and because consumers are more engaged through mobile, brands can steal market share, like they did in the early days of online. There's been a step change recently, with all the major players restating the importance of mobile. Eric Schmidt, the chairman and chief executive of Google, recently said that if you don't have a mobile strategy, then you simply don't have a strategy.

- How interested are clients in the medium?

Hugely. I cannot think of any client who hasn't been impressed with what we have to offer. It's not just the appeal of mobile, it's the data that excites people. Mobile goes beyond media personalisation and offers rich targeting and data. Clients are starting to see the value of what that data can offer, to both new and existing customers. Data will change the game forever. That's why mobile is perfectly positioned.

- How much do clients understand the medium?

It's getting better. Clients understand it all a lot better now, and can even see the value of opted-in audiences, a real development. They're starting to understand the different ways you can use the medium. Starbucks, for example, was our launch partner last year for "You are here", which demonstrated the client's understanding of the offer's potential. This was quickly followed with a whole host of brands signing up.

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Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).