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Mobile marketing: a moving target and a higher bar

by Nigel Hollis | December 05, 2012

Tectonic shifts continue to take place in the world of media. Online is now challenging TV for the top media slot in the USA. In 2012 to date, Google alone generated more ad revenue than all newspapers combined and nearly as much as magazines. But yet another change is taking place. In a few years, smartphones will be the dominant means by which people consume digital content and interact with apps and ads.

Mobile is the do-it-all, emerging giant of the digital domain. The growth figures are staggering and as penetration of smartphones permeates beyond the richest in each country, we can expect the vast majority of people to access the web and apps via their phones. In the G20 countries, by 2015 smartphones are expected to make four times as many connections to the web as PCs.

With this in mind, Millward Brown has just released its AdReaction 2012 study focused on consumer attitudes to mobile advertising. The study was conducted using qualitative and quantitative methodologies across 18 countries. It was designed to understand what marketers need to know to explore advertising in the mobile space with confidence.

If you thought digital marketing was tough – and you should do – mobile is even tougher. As the AdReaction data reveals, few people around the world welcome the idea of advertising on their phone. Attitudes are even less favorable toward mobile advertising than telemarketing and much lower than online display ads. Of course, this attitude differs by country: people living in Kenya, Nigeria and India are the most positive – where mobile is the main source of access to the Internet and people are more eager to learn about brands. North Americans and Western Europeans are the least positive about mobile advertising. 

Key to successful mobile advertising is respect for user needs and mindsets. People expect certain things from mobile. They want mobile to know who they are and their needs, to get a tangible exchange for their attention, and for it to be competent: clear, functional and focused. As the AdReaction report notes, mobile marketing can perform many important roles, but it can also evoke very negative responses if it comes across as a clumsy invasion of personal space. 

As we test more and more mobile ads, we are finding distinct similarities between what works for display ads and mobile ads. Given the size of the typical smartphone screen maybe this is not surprising. Small screen size means that mobile ads need to be simple and communicate really easily. It is even more important to make a good, first impression than when people are accessing the web by PC. 

And as with online, people do not expect to be interrupted and will react badly if an ad tries to insert itself between them and the content they really want.

The AdReaction report sums up the principles for mobile marketing success with an acronym: RESPECT. To learn more check out the full report here.

It seems to me that the report suggests that the advent of mass mobile is going to set the bar even higher for marketing. What do you think? Please share your thoughts.

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