Every story needs an antagonist. This article might not make me more friends in the brand world, but that is not my intention. This is not an article about mobile worldwide ad spending growth (incidentally, 62 percent in 2012), but rather it's an article about the wrong way that many brands are leveraging mobile.
In short, mobile is not a branding tool. Rather, it is the great game changer for direct response marketing.
All the factors that make up the mobile ecosystem combine to form a ready-made solution for direct response marketing. What other advertising platform has a direct personalized component to it, as well as trackable methods (mobile web and m-commerce) for direct response?
Consider this hypothetical example: A direct response marketer puts out a banner ad or an email offer for which the marketer is paid on a cost-per-acquisition or cost-per-lead basis by the advertiser. The consumer clicks on the banner or email at work, and the form asks for a phone number. Which phone number would the person use? Home number? Cell number? Office number? Is the person's computer cookied at work? If it is, that person might not want to fill this out.
These issues never arise with mobile campaigns because the devices are so personalized. In fact, mobile is the only end-to-end solution for direct response marketing, from its form-fill-out element for lead generation to the phone component that enables call centers to reach and upsell consumers directly.
At present, 85 percent of mobile inventory remains unsold, according to TechCrunch. Likewise, mobile inventory is increasing at lighting speeds due to worldwide device adoption, and we're seeing an increase in buying options (e.g., via DSPs) in the mobile space.
With a glut of inventory, low ad rates follow. These factors support the argument that mobile is for direct response advertising. Likewise, the following points speak the challenges facing brand marketers on mobile:
- Slow video load speeds
- Fake clicks and pocket dials on mobile that distort actual performance
- Slower connection speeds for large branded engagements
Mobile behavioral targeting
Mobile is also changing behavioral targeting in a way that lends itself specifically to direct response. Mobile behavioral targeting will not be behavioral targeting as we traditionally think of it on the web, where targeting is cookie based. Rather, it is based on psychographics that are uniquely mobile, such as device and location. This will only enhance direct response marketing, as marketers will know where a user is and what they have interacted with. Furthermore, via mobile, marketers have 24-hour access to consumers and can even call them directly, when appropriate. This is a direct response marketer's dream come true.
Mobile purchases are on the rise, demonstrating that people are just as apt -- and in some cases, more apt -- to take action and buy goods and services on their mobile devices as they are via their computers. This trend has surprised many. According to Ann Frisbie of inMobi, "I'm struck at just how rapidly consumers are becoming comfortable making direct purchases on mobile devices. Think back to the late '90s -- it took forever to get the majority of consumers comfortable buying on the internet. In six months, we saw more than a 40 percent change."
In light of these trends, I predict we'll see the following developments when it comes to direct response marketing via mobile:
- Call centers will rise again and get more sophisticated in the upsell.
- New measurement benchmarks will be established for mobile.
- Revolutionary behavioral targeting methodologies that make web behavioral targeting look very "2000s" will emerge.
- We'll continue to see more shopping on mobile devices.
- Protecting the integrity of mobile data will become paramount, and we'll see a rise in mobile security products.
I have been on both the agency and performance marketing side, and mobile is the only advertising platform I've ever seen that is within three feet of a user 24 hours a day. Sorry, brand marketers: Mobile is a game changer for direct response marketing, not branding.
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"Touch screen mobile phone with businessmen" image via Shutterstock.