BLOG: Tamara's Tech Marketing Tips

March 18, 2010

Musings from the Mobile Upfront

This blog has been cross-posted on the Crisp Wireless blog “Crisp Voices.”

Matisyahu performing

Matisyahu performing at the Mobile Upfront

A crowd of nearly 500 representatives from agencies, publishers, and technology vendors gathered on Tuesday, March 16th down in the Lower East Side of Manhattan for the first annual Mobile Upfront Conference, hosted by Jumptap.  The day and the venue were both jam-packed, with discussions from the people out there on the front lines executing mobile advertising campaigns.  If you want a full overview of the conference, you might want to read through the tweetstream, but I’ll summarize some key takeaways here.

  • Mobile BRAND advertising is still in a testing and trial mode but all major brands are incorporating some form of mobile advertising

Isobar recommends that all their advertisers start with approximately a $50K ad spend in mobile to experiment, test and measure.  They also recommend that everyone commission a brand study to help judge effectiveness.

  • Mobile advertising spend from brands will continue to grow

Tara Moss from Isobar stated that mobile is approximately 5-10% of the mobile ad spend now, but expects it to represent 40% of the online spend in a few years, and R/GA feels that while mobile ad budgets have been slow to develop, they will be quicker to grow than what we saw in the early days of online.

  • Mobile advertising is effective

While measurement is a concern for all the panelists throughout the day, what they have measured so far has been an unprecedented success with three to four times the results of online.  Measurements vary depending on campaign goals (acquisition, retention, brand awareness, commerce, foot traffic, etc) so measuring both engagement and conversion across all campaigns is critical.  John Hadl from Brand in Hand described how he has an assistant dedicated to compiling reports from various ad server and ad networks — clearly that problem needs to be solved for mobile advertising to scale (and Crisp Wireless has some solutions for this.)  Marriott has actually had amazing success with revenue driven from their mobile site exceeding that from individual country sites.

  • Mobile expertise needs to be integrated throughout the agency

Instead of chasing shiny new objects, mobile needs to be leveraged according to the campaign goals and objectives.  Everyone needs to understand mobile to be able to properly advise clients, develop compelling creative, and execute media buys.  Isobar has taken bold steps in this direction and now has 150 mobile specialists spread throughout their 3000-person organization.

  • Mobile web is the future

We heard this from Brand in Hand but most eloquently from Sony Music who believes in the mobile web because it reaches across all platforms and countries and “hits more people.”  Panelists believe that HTML5 will change the course of mobile and lessen the focus on apps.

  • Mobile ad networks still dominate

Media buyers want scale and to achieve this in mobile they’ve worked with ad networks.  Brand in Hand spends 65% of its budget through mobile ad networks and prefers to work with just a few organizations and publishers to manage resources.  Premium publishers expressed a clear desire to sell direct and offer greater value to brand advertisers with sponsorships, cross-platform buys, and association of brand with premium content.

  • Creatives need to understand mobile

It is great to creative-types to play and experiment with each new thing, but ultimately someone needs to set the marketing communications objectives and figure out how mobile incorporates into that.  For some audiences, it is central.  For others, it is a sideline.  But because mobile is quickly becoming the “first screen” it needs to be a piece of all.