Mobile Takes Center Stage in the Marketing Mix

Spring always seems to bring big change. With nature it’s obvious. But reviewing the season’s digital marketing buzz, I am getting a distinct feeling that Spring 2015 may be the watershed for mobile’s emergence as the priority marketing platform from this quarter forward. If so, what could that mean for marketers? A lot. Let’s consider four areas in which integrated marketing communications (IMC) consulting might be affected by mobile’s unequivocal kingpin status in the marketing mix.

Audience Measurement – Shifting media consumption habits have been slowly wreaking havoc with advertising, marketing and PR budgets for the past decade. In barely two years, we have seen preferred metrics change from “impressions” to “estimated media values” for PR and from “likes” and Klout scores to “click-through rates” for social media and mobile advertising. Remember when Nielsen’s diary method for measuring audience types was used to spend millions in ad campaigns? No more. The folks stroking checks for their products and services want more data, less conjecture. The check writers–who should now probably be called “revenue enablers”–can get more credible data, thanks to mobile. Mobile media analytics providers–such as Google Mobile Analytics and Mixpanel–can measure the potential customer’s behavior, buying habits, search habits and geographic locations in real time. Other mobile metrics providers can even tell you if a mobile device user is walking, seated or slightly reclined when viewing content. These new mobile audience “profiling” tools mean more homework for marketers, unless they want to present a campaign without the answers to Big Data questions that likely will be asked in a future presentation. After all, information is not just power in the digital age, it’s pervasive.

Reporting – While related to measurement, reporting about an IMC campaign that rests heavily on mobile engagement can produce spotty results over the course of the campaign. As a result, IMC crafters need to practice the art of managing expectations and the routine of educating potential and current clients. Everyone generally knows that attention spans of mobile users are shorter, but it’s critical for marketers to now educate clients and potential clients that in a mobile environment any event or Twitter trend–an earthquake in Nepal or a local shooting–may skew mobile engagement by a targeted audience segment at any given time. Preparing the potential client for these blips in engagement will be key for   cross-marketing in the mobile era.

Multichannel Balance – Clearly, the transition to mobile screen dominance dictates that multichannel campaigns must be carefully crafted to build a client’s mobile contact databases and directly and regularly provide mobile content. Google’s change in ranking websites that are mobile-friendly also will create the need for a stronger campaign emphasis on search and mobile ad buys. The Mobile Marketing Association has a new study [Cross-Marketing Effectiveness] making this case and caps a roadshow about it in Dallas later this month.

Content Creation – For the mobile consumer, content must be succinct and readable in small doses. While this is the current trend of content delivery, mobile screen dominance will force content creators to find creative ways to produce even more visual elements for sharing top-line information. The trend toward short online video content is yet another case in point. Innovators in the field of content management on the mobile platform, like Aussie SaaS start-up Mobit, will be well-positioned to take advantage of the mobile platform shift in marketing.

As an observer of media and marketing, I am giddy about the realization of mobile’s dominance in the marketing mix after so many years of forecasting. But as a practitioner, I am sobered by the work that lies ahead to re-calibrate mobile-dominated IMC for maximum efficacy.

Making Gains: Mobile Advertising

The buzz around the industry for the past 15 months has been the role of mobile ads in the marketing mix. My Webcomic client, Trilogy-Media, is a great candidate for mobile ads because of the rich media product they will unveil this month. The product, The Adjusted Webcomic, will introduce a soundtrack to enhance its science-fiction online comic series. Its target market, comic book enthusiasts, are good candidates for mobile ads given the upsurge in sales of mobile devices, from the iPad to iPhones. To promote its product, visual ads in the form of MMS messaging makes the most sense. But with the financial contraints of a start-up marketing budget, the strategy we seek must take cost into account. So our execution will involve finding low-cost mobile advertising through social media platforms, like Google and Facebook. Independent Webcomic publishers that sell banner ads will extend the reach on mobile devices with access to the Internet. So there is no reason to buy separate mobile advertising for small mobile campaigns. But there is a glitch in this process: the analytics. How can you differentiate from the click-throughs whether your prospective customer came from a mobile version of the platform or from a desktop? I suspect there is no way to make that distinction without paying handsomely for it. So for small-budget clients, measuring ROI for mobile advertising is only effective with text or SMS campaigns. One alternative for measuring the effectiveness of mobile advertising with rich-media (MMS) is to run a separate mobile-only banner campaign using one social media platform. Stay tuned.