November 03, 2011

Realistic Thinking About Mobile Media Mobile media makes marketers drool. Unfortunately they are focused on the rapid adoption of the technology and the increasing use of smartphones, apps and mobile-enabled services. They are thinking about all those people they can intersect and message on-the-go. But they are not looking at the attitudes and adoption patterns of users. Most people don’t necessarily want media intrusions. They want to use a mobile utility on their terms and on their timetable. Is there any surprise that getting an ad on your cellular phone is still considered bad form? Does anyone really question why there are so few opt-in lists available for SMS or graphical mobile campaigns? Users want to drive. They want information, search keywords, comparison shopping data and rewards and offers when they want them; not when marketers want to transmit them. We are also seeing distinctive use patterns by device type. iPads have become news and entertainment media that in some psycho-demographic segments challenge TV while smartphones are being used as more practical utilities. Comparing behavior by device, we see that some tasks like applying for a mortgage or filing in complex forms are still the province of desktops and laptops while quickly checking balances; directions, movie times, medications or calendars are done by phone. And while publishers and portals like AOL are changing design parameters to create bigger ad units and expanding their reach, these moves correspond to corporate revenue goals rather than consumer preferences. Ironically as mobile ad spending increases to $1.8 billion by the end of 2012 according to eMarketer and brands plough more dollars into rich mobile media and mobile video ads, the devices themselves make it easier and easier to skip or ignore advertisements. Outside ads embedded in apps, users can easily sidestep the messages targeted to them. The persuasive path or brands is to create or associate with mobile content, games or utilities valued by your target customers rather than SPAM them in a new media.
Why Living Social Will Crash & Burn National advertisers are extremely skeptical about daily deals. They abhor the 50/50 split, they doubt the targeting capabilities and they are convinced that deal shoppers either don’t return or won’t ever again pay full price. But the real reason Living Social and the army of also-rans will fail is that they don’t know how to engage agencies and sophisticated marketers who can provide them the credibility and scale they crave. After months of convincing my client that these guys provide value and can engage customers who don’t consider their brand, we craft a test plan in a key Southwestern market. The logistics and operations of getting a Living Social deal designed and approved are kluge-y. The initial design comp omitted their logo. The reps seem inexperienced and mostly clueless. Following a yeoman effort at sell-in, we prep the clients, hold endless conference calls, salve internal political and personality disputes and get everybody prepped to handle inquiries, social media reactions, PR, purchases, redemptions and potential competitive responses. All eyes within the huge national client organization are on this pilot deal slated to run on Monday. Thursday night before we push the button, we are told that it has to be pushed back to satisfy some arbitrary new policy cooked up by Living Social’s management. Everyone on our end goes bat shit crazy. None of the daily deal guys understands why this is a big deal. Now nobody cares how it turns out. Moral of the story -- If you want to play with the big brands you have to understand our world and service us in context. You need us more than we need you.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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