Mobile marketing still lacks success stories

Market players describe mobile advertising industry as "over-hyped" and underscore need for better education and objectives to create "successful" campaigns.

SINGAPORE--Mobile marketing may be growing at an exponential stage but it has yet to see a "success story", say industry players who call for need to establish guidelines to measure effectiveness of campaigns.

Aditya Save, head media at Marico India, attributed the lack of "success" to campaign concepts for mobile marketing, which should be medium-based instead of concept-driven. Speaking at a panel discussion at the Mobile Marketing Association Forum here Wednesday, Save explained that unlike campaigns for traditional mediums, ads for mobile platforms have to be designed based on the phones or tablets on which companies intend to push the campaigns.

Danilo J. Mojica II, director of head wireless consumer division at Smart Communications, added that there is no fixed opinion or guidelines on the measurement of "success". "Ask 10 people on the street and you will get 10 different answers," said Mojica, who was also a speaker on the panel.

However, he stressed that mobile advertising will soon be experiencing a "second resurrection", thanks to the proliferation of tablets, and this may in turn push the industry to produce a commonly acknowledged success story.

He added that the increase in size and features on such devices will give marketers and companies a new medium to better engage consumers.

Sophisticated campaigns such as 3Ds ads and augmented reality, for example, are beginning to take off, and one such ad agency that has seen success here is Cherrypicks, a 10 year-old Hong Kong company which counts major financial institutions and consumer brands as clients.

Its CEO, Jason Chiu, shared that for mobile ad campaigns to be successful, brands must first establish its marketing objectives, have a good set of KPIs (key performance indicators) and a system of measurement.

Chiu explained: "First of all, what is your marketing objective? If you're going for [audience] reach, then don't do apps. If you do so, then you're bound to be disappointed." Referring to a recent campaign to highlight this, he said: "Hennessy VSOP, for example, is a premium spirits maker. They thought that smartphone users are a natural segment [in Hong Kong] because these users belong to the middle-, high-class [customer] group.

"However, survey has shown that there are only approximately 70,000 spirits drinkers [in Hong Kong] out of a population of 7 million. With that target in mind, it would be absolutely amazing if you get 20,000 downloads [of the app]," he noted.

Hence, the outcome would be different and client "bound for disappointment" if the campaign is executed without having such background information, he said.

These measures can ensure advertisers are prepared for the expected results, rather than be caught unawares at the end of the marketing campaign, Chiu said, but was quick to add that he has yet to personally encounter such situations.

Client education necessary
Heather Wee, head of new media at Malaysian mobile operator, Maxis, shared similar sentiments and lamented that many brands that wish to engage in mobile advertising come onboard without a proper digital strategy, and yet, "want to do something beyond their capability".

Wee explained that the biggest challenge today is managing such expectations and to educate clients about potential end-results of a mobile advertising campaign.

"I have brands thinking that they may be able to achieve this amount of [customer] acquisition [with a particular campaign], but have forgotten the means of measuring it," she highlighted.

She noted that her team's responsibility encompasses helping brands and creative agencies roll out mobile ads to suitable form-factors to reach subscribers' devices.

She said the mobile marketing industry is "overhyped" and urged companies that plan to launch mobile campaigns should first be more "educated" on digital strategies.

Regardless, echoing her peers in the industry, Wee believes mobile advertising is poised for a bigger future, noting that most of her clients that have embarked on mobile advertising have reached a point of "no turning back".

Recent figures from mobile advertising agency, InMobi, showed that smartphone-based ad impressions in the global mobile market grew 33.6 percent in the first quarter of 2011, compared to 21 percent in the previous quarter.


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