Posted By ] Mickey Alam Khan
While projections on mobile advertising still can’t be trusted – safe to say that brands will spend more than $1 billion on display, rich media, search and text ads – one thing can be said for sure: 2011 is mobile’s year to lose.
As editors and reporters Giselle Tsirulnik, Dan Butcher and Rimma Kats so ably demonstrate in Mobile Marketer’s Mobile Outlook 2011, all facets of mobile marketing are gaining currency with brands, ad agencies, publishers and retailers. Thank-you to them for this Classic Guide that should be read cover to cover.
Of course, for all the enthusiasm about mobile, budgets are still not where they need to be.
After all, it is expected that sometime this year or next, one out of two subscribers nationwide will have smartphones enabled with Internet and applications. Just imagine how that will change consumption of content and marketing, communications and conduct of commerce.
Marketers will get religion. As reported daily in Mobile Marketer and sibling publication Mobile Commerce Daily, the nation’s leading brands are now increasingly bringing mobile to the front of the bus.
Marketing needs to be where consumers are, and consumers are on conducting much of their work, play and personal lives on mobile devices, be it phones or tablets.
So here are some trends and influencing brands seen from this perch in mobile and the overall digital space:
Social networking: Facebook will cross 700 million users. While social networking is now ingrained communications behavior, the jury’s still out on Facebook’s ability to monetize. It is hard to see a networking audience buy from a store on Facebook, but who knows?
Moreover, Facebook still relies on a 1990s revenue model: clicks on banner ads next to user-generated content. And how to monetize the Like feature when brands are already using it and launching Facebook pages to great success – for free?
In the mobile context, around 200 million Facebook users use the service on their mobile phone. Facebook hasn’t shown how it can monetize mobile when eventually in three years or so mobile will be the primary form of social-networking access.
Privacy: A Do Not Track law may not harm mobile as much as online since it is hard to cookie mobile sites. But marketers do collect data via applications, especially the app stores. What will such legislation from the Federal Trade Commission mean for mobile advertising and database marketing?
Silence from mobile marketers in the privacy area may mean consent to straitjacketing mobile advertising and marketing to a point where neither the consumer nor the marketer benefits. Speak up and speak now.
Apple dominates: Does Steve Jobs ever rest? Expect Apple to dominate the airwaves, newsprint and online chatter with a new version of the iPad tablet, an iPhone for another wireless carrier besides AT&T and milestones achieved in applications – a half-million sometime this year.
Of course, banish the thought that Apple will share application usage and deletion data on an aggregate basis or that it will lower its 30 percent take from revenue generated in the Apple App Store. Flash on mobile devices? Not on Mr. Jobs’ watch.
Google dazzles with numbers: Google will dangle stats on the number of Android-supported mobile phones and devices and how it surpasses any other smartphone platform. Well, if only those numbers could be monetized.
Google has yet to show how it will monetize its mobile offerings, aside from display ad revenue derived from the AdMob mobile ad network purchase last year.
Indeed, Google’s danger is that these new mobile ventures are still backed by a company whose primary source of revenue is search engine marketing on the traditional Web – how 1998. And what happens when all search activity migrates to mobile – can Google support its 20,000-plus engineers on mobile revenue?
Oh, and what if Facebook launches its own search engine within the new walled garden?
Research In Motion plays catch-up: The BlackBerry maker just cannot articulate what it stands for and why new customers should buy its devices over Apple’s or Android’s. How long before Apple and Google crack the enterprise market?
Microsoft – spend now: Please buy a mobile advertising or mobile commerce company – or Research In Motion. Microsoft cannot let Apple and Google divvy up the mobile field between them.
Tablet remedy: Sorry, the category belongs to the Apple iPad. It’s not just the device, it’s the experience and the applications and the marketing and the buzz and Mr. Jobs. What does Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and Research In Motion’s PlayBook have over the iPad? A smaller screen, Flash and faster Internet? Wait till iPad 2 is out.
Mobile commerce boom: This year and the years ahead belong to mobile commerce. All retailers must have mobile commerce sites and applications. To not have a mobile presence is to lose a customer, once and for all.
Mobile Web: Betting long on mobile Web. Mobile sites will be a requirement, while applications will remain a preference.
Amazon: The world’s largest online retailer is set to change the world of retail. Its mobile application and site are a Trojan horse in a retailer’s store. Expect more consumers to use Amazon’s mobile presence to search and compare prices while at a rival retailer’s store. A race to the bottom for offline retail? Perhaps.
EBay bids for success: The world’s No. 1 mobile retailer will hold on to its title. Eventually, most eBay transactions will close on mobile. The one online-only retailer, along with Amazon, that has got mobile right.
Publishers: A mobile presence will not save publishing, but it’ll be a must. The biggest dilemma will continue: how to monetize mobile readership? Mobile ad revenue will not suffice. And consumers have shown a marked reluctance to pay for news content online or on mobile – bar The Wall Street Journal, Consumer Reports and the Financial Times.
The mobile editions will sooner or later cannibalize online and print. Publishers are running out of time to come up with new ideas. Tip: ditch print, stick to online and mobile, cut overhead and stay lean and mean. But knowing publishers, these steps will be forced on them.
Mobile advertising: Agencies need to bundle mobile buys with online. Don’t discount mobile. Mobile ads – banners, rich media, search, SMS, voice and sponsorships – will boom with more inventory becoming available.
Fragmentation: Here to stay. Live with it – disparate operating systems, browsers, screens, units, phones and devices and app stores. No solution in sight, so why worry? It is what it is.
People to keep an eye on: Steve Jobs, Marc Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Angry Birds.
Mickey Alam Khan