Why Marketers May Finally Get on the Mobile Advertising Boat

I originally posted this piece on Forbes, but it bears revisiting.

I was a bit surprised by a stat that esteemed industry analyst Mary Meeker recently shared. While print media represents only 8% of consumer time spent, it accounts for 27% of marketers’ media spending. Mobile media, on the other hand, represents 8% of consumer time, yet only .5% of marketers’ media spending. Why the disparity?

I believe there are three reasons:

  1. Mobile advertising has yet to show scalable reach that has a demonstrable ROI. The reach of print advertising is clearly known, and the way consumers interact with print ads has been well researched for decades. Understanding mobile ad engagement is still developing, which has led to less than successful attempts to apply PC Web banner advertising principles to this nascent medium.
  2. Buying highly targeted premium inventory has not been easy for agencies to do in the mobile ad world. It is easy in the print and online world, but early mobile ad networks that brought some scale to the table also placed advertisers’ messages in environments where they did not want them to be.
  3. Creating ads for smartphones is different than creating them for print ads or online banners. Most agencies have not created them nor have they been asked to. This problem plagued online advertising 15 years ago until firms like PointRoll made the “rich media” ad unit easier to produce.

These issues are going to go away soon. According to Jason Young, former CEO of Ziff-Davis and now CEO of Crisp Media, “The infrastructure for buying quality mobile ad placements and creating engaging mobile ad is getting significantly better.” And he is staking his future on it. Last week, Smart Media Devices, a year-old venture that provides advertisers with scalable and targeted access to high-quality mobile-accessible content, merged with Crisp Media, a pioneering platform for rich-media mobile ad creation. Mr. Young will lead the combined companies.

“The mobile ad market is at the critical stage where premium brands are wanting to play significantly,” said Young. “Yet because barriers to buy still exist, the premium market demands an integrated set of solutions optimized for its unique needs.  We hope to be a catalyst for the industry, by bringing together an unrivaled combination of platform, products and services.”

So as the inhibitors to rolling out mobile campaigns begin to diminish, look for savvy marketers to begin aggressively testing new ways to engage their markets via smartphones.

Mobile ads for Amex, Audi and Sherlock Holmes 2 recently appeared on my smartphone. Any mobile ads caught your attention recently?