Get mobile, or stay in the past
UK advertisers’ wait-and-see approach to mobile belies the consensus view among agencies that, without this specialism, no strategy is fit for the future.
Welcome to the second year of Campaign’s Digital Focus – a series of expert views on various digital specialisms.
First, our contributors are zoning in on Mobile; next up will be Social (in July) and Online Video (in October). These were once areas in which a clearly defined route-map was a nice thing to have. Increasingly, a sense of direction across these digital terrains is becoming business-critical. If you don’t have a mobile strategy, you don’t have a future strategy, it has been said.
With almost as many mobile-phone subscriptions as people in the world – six billion SIM cards among a population of nearly seven billion in 2011, according to the United Nations agency International Telecommunication Union – it’s a statement that’s hard to argue with. Not only that, but the consultancy Strategy Analytics believes there are now more than one billion smartphones globally – some of them more powerful than laptops, as LBi’s Ilicco Elia reminds us.
Yet, despite the ubiquity of such potent and compelling devices, and the vertiginous rise in tablet ownership, mobile adspend remains minuscule in the UK. If you ask Erfan Djazmi at Essence, our first expert, he will attribute this to psychology and the fear of change. ’Twas ever thus when new media channels emerged, he notes: radio scripts were applied to the first TV ads, and print ads to digital. But now that fear has to be addressed: “Judgment day is upon us.”
And judgment day is indeed upon us at Campaign – and at all our publishing compatriots, Kaldor’s Jonny Kaldor and Jon Marks warn. Print brands have to be stripped back to their DNA, they suggest, and rebuilt in a new shape for a digital future. (You can go to the App Store and download the very lovely Campaign app now.)
The same is clearly true for all brands that are interested in connecting with a mobile audience. But don’t be lulled into thinking that responsive design is the way to do so, Elia cautions. Making an effort to apply insight and structured thinking to a mobile site is far more likely to reap greater rewards.
Ultimately, as agencies embrace the change that’s required for life in a digitally integrated world, they cannot jettison the fundamentals of creativity upon which the business of advertising has been built. For MBA’s Paul Munce, these days it’s in the “delicate balance of technology and age-old creative craft where we think the magic lies”.
Suzanne Bidlake, consultant editor, Campaign
More investment is needed in a medium that is effective, efficient and provides a key point of difference, writes Erfan Djazmi, head of mobile, EMEA, at Essence.
As the printed page resigns itself to becoming the vinyl of the publishing world, the only winners will be publishers that significantly evolve their product to adapt to a new breed of consumers, write Jonny Kaldor and Jon Marks.
Responsive design is not enough - think about different contexts to our web behaviour and how structured thinking can improve our experience, says LBi's Ilicco Elia.
Agencies must adapt to keep up with mobile without losing sight of the fundamentals of communication, writes Paul Munce, managing partner at MBA.
Read more on mobile...
Essays from Digital Focus 2012: Mobile, by writers from Google, Isobar Mobile, JWT London, LBI and MBA
Making the most of mobile
Welcome to the first incarnation of a new element in Campaign in which we invite experts to burrow beneath the surface of the catch-all that is "digital".
We've done away with the previous bulky Digital supplement that we've been publishing each year for almost a decade. Though still popular and thriving, its descriptor and the lumping together of the entire digital panoply felt increasingly flabby and generalist to us.
Instead, we are asking contributors to delve into more specialist areas – the nitty-gritty of digital communications – where we can be brought up close to the granularity of agencies and marketers operating in these specific areas.
This, the first, focuses on Mobile. Coming down the line later this year will be Social Media and Gamification.
These were the topics mentioned more than any others when we talked to agencies and marketers about what they wanted to read about digital in the pages of Campaign.
Interestingly, very few, when it came to it, felt able to write about mobile. It wasn't an excuse, since they were keen to contribute in other ways. It seemed they were working hard to build their mobile capabilities but that the learning was steep and extensive, and that the confidence to declare an expertise was still not entirely fully formed.
There will be many, then, who will be keen to see just who are already putting themselves on the line and positioning themselves to clients (and potential agency partners) as mobile-ready.
We've got a huge media owner, a big network agency, a specialist digital agency, an integrated agency and a digital marketing and technology agency. With such a fantastic and eclectic spread, the chances are that some of the answers you're looking for are in the essays below.
Suzanne Bidlake, consultant editor, Campaign
As consumers integrate every aspect of their digital lives, it's crucial that brands do likewise, says Ilicco Elia of LBi.
If brands are to succeed with mobile marketing, they need to understand human needs and balance the convergence of creativity and technology, says James Devon of MBA.
Clients are missing out on valuable business if they do not yet have a mobile-optimised website, says Stephany van Willigenburg of Google UK.
Sensible brands looking to nurture mobile relationships with potential customers need to take it steady, not come on strong on the first date, says Tim Dunn of Isobar Mobile.
Brands struggling to activate sales in-store should welcome the latest mobile innovations that will deliver more engaging customer experiences, says Gavin Crouch of JWT London.
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