One of the biggest handicaps with mobile, like with any other nascent technology, is the death of the old and the birth of the new -- and in this case, we are dealing with the birth of a new form of consumption. Without question, mobile today has reached critical mass with 91.4 million mobile web users, of which, 80 percent are smartphone users. In a survey by Ovun of 300 brand marketers, 51 percent suggested they already treat mobile as mainstream display, with 72 percent suggesting increased send, and more than 35 percent suggesting more than 50 percent growth in spending.
Despite the widespread adoption, many premier digital companies remain behind the mobile monetization eight-ball. However, a late start does not mean all is lost; instead, one of the biggest advantages of being behind is the ability to innovate and invent paths to success undiscovered by the market.
Experiences designed as mobile-only destinations with mobile or tablet behavior as the true North Star must be top of mind. We saw this successfully executed when AOL’s iPad magazine, Editions, teamed with BMW on a recent execution. In this case, the market saw a premium ad sponsorship that provided an opportunity to reach affluent, early adopter audiences with creative ways to express brand messaging; it’s a great alternative to bring branded content to key marquee brands (in this case Editions) where content and advertising are fairly interchangeable.
Mobile and tablets have opened a Pandora’s box by allowing touch screen advertising. However, the market has not been super receptive due to sheer lack of evidence. There is a "negative" perception about canvas size available on the phones as well, even though data suggests that consumers spend more time interacting on mobile and tablet devices. The interactive quality of the new and ever-evolving rich media formats of mobile allows the user to tap video, tap to map, or tap to make a phone call. With the wide range of format options available, advertisers can buy a simpler turn-key expandable, or build a custom experience that pops off the mobile screen. The companies that win will do so by providing industry-leading research and by pushing the envelope both on touch-based advertising and usage of gravity, 3D, etc.
One of the largest challenges for advertising is scaling audience -- with an embedded loyal base, companies like AOL, Google, Facebook, and Yahoo are poised to engage their audiences across the screens. However, mobile technologies like Apps (with no cookies) create a challenge. This is the billion dollar challenge -- the ability, both on the consumer and advertising end, to solve this will help solve for all of the key issues advertisers face today in the industry. There is almost a feeling that solving this will really open the pipes to bring digital dollars to mobile.
For companies to succeed and really win in the three-screen (maybe four-screen) format, they must think holistically about advertising and digital. At the end of the day, the goal is to follow the consumer and reach them where they consume branded content. This is where having a cross-media strategy across screens is useful and the dream of one-tag and one-brand comes to life.
The companies who will succeed and win will do so by helping advertisers and agencies consider a cross-platform approach with their digital advertising buys, and consider across all screens -- web, smartphone, tablet, etc. At the end of the day, we expect dollars to go where the users are, and they are definitely going mobile right now.
It's very clear: Branded campaigns at scale for mobile and tablet are the No. 1 priority. Location-based assets where companies can serve categories like retail, CPG, travel, and auto for performance are the next tier, followed by scaling audience. Branding dollars and location dollars will follow mobile first, then audience. By solving for these challenges, there is no losing in the mobile advertising space.
Mandar Shinde is senior director of mobile monetization for AOL.
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