What’s wrong with mobile marketing

I spent the day in New York at the OMMA Mobile conference.  As I’ve blogged before, I’ve started covering mobile marketing and advertising as part of my day job.  But 2008 isn’t going to be the year that mobile makes it big – and the longer recession looms over us, the longer mobile’s emergence will be delayed. 

However, I’m just starting my research so I’m building up to identify how to make mobile marketing work now and in the future.  Today, there were some very smart minds sharing their thoughts – I’ll share their reasons why mobile isn’t prime time yet.   My biggest takeaway: mobile marketing has lots of potential, but is currently trapped in an immature adolescence, at best.  Sure, we’ve started to notice mobile – deeper voice, more curves, whatever – but this thing ain’t ready to drive a car, vote, or drink a beer yet.

If you want to know why, here’s what I heard today:

From Evan Neufeld of m:metrics: "what is driving us forward and holding us back"

  1. Pricing:  consumers are getting nickled and dimed to death for data.
  2. Devices:  need better devices to spur usage.
  3. Bandwidth:  consumers want to drink from the hose.
  4. Subsidization: Largest audiences for text messaging, a low value ad play.

From Jeremy Wright of Nokia, formerly of Enpocket.  "Why isn’t mobile advertising bigger today?"

  1. Fragmentation.  Buyers say it’s hard to make a deal.
  2. Measurable ROI.  Reporting isn’t great.
  3. Engagement post-click.  Lack of ecosystem partners and campaign integration.

From David Verklin, CEO of Aegis Media Americas.  "The biggest barrier to mobile advertising."

  • Speed.  2.5G isn’t fast enough.
  • But most marketers don’t even know what we’re talking about, 2.5G, 3G and so on.
  • We need to use mass media to drive people to concentrated places, i.e. from TV to web.

Manish Jha, CEO of Vantrix (and formerly of ESPN Mobile).

  • His company deals with interoperability issues – they have a database of 13,000 phone types.  Think about it.  You may have enough of a headache building your website for PC and Mac.  Or just on PC, for IE and Firefox.  Or just in IE, 6 vs. 7.  Think that’s bad?  Try 13,000 phones.

Verklin actually came out and said it:  2008 isn’t the year of mobile.  2009 is.

What that means is you should be preparing yourself now for mobile, just like you did with social media – by experimenting.  Upgrade your mobile plan to include data.  Text in a vote to American Idol (in a few weeks) or submit a code to My Coke Rewards.  Visit ESPN mobile and notice the banner ads.

(Naturally, the flip side of this is how to mobile marketing work, which will be covered in an upcoming piece of research.)

Being: Peter Kim