The ubiquity of the Mobile device and the nature of the personal relationship we have with it presents marketers with the greatest opportunity and at the same time the greatest challenge. Bruce Braun is a media pioneer. He learned video and branding at CBS, USA Networks and Turner Broadcasting. Learned direct marketing as CEO of TMT Media, one of the largest direct response media buying firm in the US. Then in the early days of online advertising helped develop the online ad serving industry by bringing the Australian company Sabela to the US. While Sabela ultimately became 24/7 Real Media, Bruce went on to InfoSpace Mobile and then lead the Mobile advertising efforts of Vivendi Universal. Now Bruce is at the center of the Mobile industry again launching Agent M, a firm supplying the third-party tracking and verification of Mobile marketing campaigns.
I asked Bruce to catch us up on the industry and share a little more about his new venture.
Can you help us understand Mobile Marketing…what it mean, where it is today?
Mobile marketing is the only truly personal medium of communication and interaction. We’ve all heard Mobile referred to as the “third screen”, after TV and the computer I would suggest that Mobile is actually the “first screen”. Every day, each of us leaves home with three indispensable things: wallet, keys and Mobile phone. Mobile is the only interactive device that is 1:1 with the owner with a phone number, unique to that consumer. In comparison, TV and the computer are in most instances shared devices and experiences. Smartphones such as the Blackberry and iPhone are in reality, small hand-held computers capable of Internet connectivity, GPS location services, music players, TV channels, personal information managers etc. What this means is that through your Mobile phone, you are now completely interconnected to all forms of media content and information and to anyone else on the planet with a Mobile phone.
The implication and opportunity for marketers is without historical parallel. Twenty years ago, it would have been inconceivable to think it would be possible to know your advertising message would be directly deliverable to an individual consumer, seen by that person, responded to (or not) and perhaps a transaction made. As importantly, Mobile in this total context becomes the ultimate CRM tool.
As a medium, compare the daily Mobile audience to the Superbowl. NBC reported that 95M people in the US watched the game in 2009. That is just one game, on one day of the year for, four hours. The NBC number is an estimate and does not account for the attention paid to any advertising. In contrast, Verizon customers are north of 85M, walking around with their Mobile phones 24/7/365, and AT&T subscriber counts are at 78M customers! Add Sprint and T-Mobile and you are pushing just under, 200M people. For marketers the Mobile market represents unparalleled opportunities and challenges.
Where’s the opportunity for marketers?
The tremendous opportunity in Mobile should be viewed in proper perspective and with demographic usage. For most people, the Mobile phone is still just a phone. This is particularly true for those over 50. However, the under 50 crowd and especially those under 30, see their Mobile phone as a primary communication device with all of the above mentioned capabilities. Text messaging has exploded and continues to grow. Smart marketers are realizing that today’s 15 year-old might be married, out of college, a parent and several into their career in less than 10 years! This scenario hold true for every unique demographic and psychographic group. Understanding each of them today becomes the key to successfully reaching them tomorrow.
What does all this mean? Simply, for marketers, the playing field is becoming far more complex. Building relationships with consumers and establishing brand recognition is all about understanding where those consumers are going or maturing into. Consumption of media is taking place in more and more different ways and for different lengths of time. Four hours in front of a TV every night has become history. Media consumption (with associated advertising content) has become snack media. Four hours at night in front of a TV has morphed into snacking on minutes of media in different venues. People want information and entertainment on their own terms, unbeholden to types, durations, set program schedules or locations. Understanding your customer, how they consume media, what they consume and what messages resonate is the new paradigm.
Mobile is the Rosetta stone for gaining that understanding!
How does Agent M play a role?
Agent M is to Mobile what Nielsen is to TV, Arbitron to Radio and ABC to Print. We provide the missing components for Mobile advertising campaign performance measurement:
- Independent & objective third-party verification of publisher & creative Mobile campaign performance
- Actionable analytical insights for improved ROI Intuitive campaign recommendations & optimization capability based upon client-defined goals
- Consolidation of all Mobile campaign publisher & creative activity into a user-centric & customizable dashboard
Is Mobile marketing effective?
Most certainly it is very effective. Mobile is very similar to what is available to Online marketers. Display ads, ad networks, Search plus messaging capability. We have seen response rates to Mobile advertising coming in at three to four times those of other media channels. Mobile advertising is projected to grow in the US to over $2.2B by 2012! Advertisers are redirecting hundreds of millions from traditional media that is almost impossible to measure response levels with, into digital media. Accountability and ROI are the keys and Mobile provides them.
Is it welcomed or considered an annoyance?
If you ask most anyone if they like advertisements, the answer is generally, no. However, if that advertisement is targeted towards you, based upon your interest levels, is informative and helpful, those ads are welcomed. I can’t think of anyone in Mobile advertising that would advocate sending your phone an automated call hawking some product or service. The only people who do that sort of advertising are politicians!
What types of Mobile campaigns can marketers do and which ones work best?
Most advertisers using Mobile these days see it as a direct response medium, just as they did in the earlier days of Online. That said, there is also a tremendous amount of branded advertising going on in Mobile. The best campaigns are those that speak to the consumer where they live. Using Mobile requires understanding how consumers view text messaging, browsing the Internet on their phones etc. Relevant ads that do not require a lot of clicks to reach the information are the best response generators.
Marketers should deploy dedicated Mobile websites specifically built for Mobile and not just bastardized versions of the Online site make a huge impact in terms of accessibility and ease of use. Display ads work very well as long as they are designed and built for the Mobile handset’s smaller screen displays.
How can a marketer stay smart on the subject Mobile marketing?
I suggest starting with the Mobile Marketing Association and the Internet Advertising Bureau sites. Each has a tremendous amount of research and FAQ’s along with links to in-depth information and services.
What things will I be doing with my Mobile device in the future that I don’t do today?
You will be surfing the Internet much more due to higher network connection speeds and HTML Mobile browsers. Your phone will become more of a universal device. For example, there is an iPhone app that will allow you to use it as a remote control for your home theater system! Mobile banking is growing like crazy and location based services, utilizing the GPS chips in your phone are becoming more pervasive.
Where do you see the best opportunities for entrepreneurs to create value and make money with Mobile?
VC’s are pouring millions into Mobile related technologies and services. Search, Location Based Advertising (LBA), and anything that involves improving the user experience (applications, content and services) with monetization scale are seeing significant investments.
To learn more about Bruce’s Company, Agent M, Click Here