Google Grabs AdMob To Push Further Into Mobile Advertising

[Posted by Neil Strother]

Google has just announced an all-stock deal to purchase mobile ad network AdMob for $750 million in a bid to solidify its position as the leader in mobile advertising.

By acquiring AdMob, the search giant gets a mobile ad network that has leveraged the power of the mobile Web and in-app advertising, particularly on the iPhone. Now, as more people adopt devices that mimic the iPhone experience (Androids, of course, as well as BlackBerrys, Palms, etc.), Google stands to gain from a growing audience that will be increasingly attractive to advertisers.

The deal also signals a shift in the landscape, and it will be interesting to see how competitors like Microsoft, Millennial Media, Quattro Wireless, among others, respond.

Big picture: mobile advertising remains a small fraction of the overall interactive marketing spend (see our forecast report if you are a Forrester client). Google, however, expects mobile to be a key growth driver in the coming years, and the acquisition of AdMob plays right into that strategy.

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Consumer Forum Recap: Clients Share Their Challenges

[Posted by Neil Strother]

I enjoyed the many conversations I had with clients this week at Forrester's 2009 Consumer Forum in Chicago. It was interesting to listen to some of the best in the interactive marketing business. They shared with me the challenges they face regarding mobile strategy, budget issues and campaign measurement. Key takeaways from my discussions:

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Working with IT Need Not Be a Drudge

[Posted by Neil Strother]

Chances are you work with IT people on a fairly regular basis. And sometimes you face challenges. You might struggle to be on the same page, or have to work around conflicting team priorities. If this happens to you, then our latest report can help. It's now up on our site, and is available in full to clients: "How To Work With IT To Get (Most) Of What You Want."

We found from our survey of interactive marketing professionals that half work with IT on a regular basis, and that they expect this level of collaboration to increase. Marketers who work successfully with IT make sure they have aligned goals, and they carefully document the project scope to avoid the urge to do too much. Those are just the starting points.

What's your situation when it comes to working with IT? How do you make the process works so you reach your goals? Post a comment blow.

Securing Interactive Budget Takes New Skills

[Posted by Neil Strother]

As interactive marketing has taken on greater influence within businesses, leaders of IM teams have emerged to shape strategy and win approval for the interactive marketing budget. We've identified this team leader as the senior interactive marketer, and we've outlined some of the unique challenges facing this person in a  new report now up on our site: "How Interactive Marketers Can Secure Budget From Their CMOs" (full version available to Forrester clients).

The senior interactive marketer must not only gather essential data for budget proposals - including the crucial metrics and ROI expectations - he or she must skilfully present plants to a CMO (and other senior management in some cases) that demonstrate the value of interactive, that align with corporate goals, and that get delivered in a manner befitting the CMO's style. The savvy senior interactive marketer must master this part of the job to have success.

What works for you in seeking new budget for interactive marketing campaigns? What budget approval challenges have you faced and how did you solve them? Post a comment below.

Rich Search Ads Hold Promise, But...

[Posted by Neil Strother]

A quick note to say a new report is up regarding marketers experimenting with rich ads (images and video) in search: "Rich Search Ads: Too Early For Most Advertisers" (available in full to Forrester clients).

The promise of these newer search ads is greater user engagement while on a search results page. The user can view product photos, watch a short video clip, or get to detailed information quicker, such as an insurance rate quote. We like the idea. These richer formats can help facilitate transactions, as well as put brand elements at key decision points.

But the major search engines (Google and Yahoo!) have so far restricted access to these rich formats to a select few advertisers, and the formats themselves are still under development. Some early results have been favorable, but how these rich formats do over time is still unclear. For now, most search marketers can delay significant spending until more results are available and the buying process becomes more automated.

What do you think? Do rich search ads make sense for your brand? Will rich search ads become part of your future plans? Post a comment below.

Marketers' Interest in Mobile Coupons Unabated

[Posted by Neil Strother]

Mobile coupons continue to spark interest among marketers and vendors alike. The notion of marrying digital coupons with cell phones is just too powerful, especially in a sluggish economy. The latest moves:

  • JC Penney is testing a new 2D barcode scanning system at its stores in the Houston area
  • HipCricket is introducing a new point-of-sale (POS) system to help simplify the redemption process for retailers and quick-serve restaurants
  •  M-Dot Network is promoting a new POS platform for retailers

These are all positive signs pointing to a healthy future for mobile coupons - which, as I said in an earlier report (available in full to Forrester clients), should be part of a retailer's strategy. But, admittedly, these are interim steps leading to a time when mobile coupons become much more common.

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Phonevalley and Microsoft Turn Up Mobile Marketing Heat

[Posted by Neil Strother]

Microsoft and Phonevalley - a Publicis Groupe agency - have announced a deal to push mobile marketing to new heights.

The deal calls for creating customized mobile ads, technology and metrics that will run across Microsoft's mobile Web properties (Bing, Microsoft Media Network and MSN). The packaged offerings will concentrate on six verticals: luxury, retail, entertainment, automotive, financial services and travel. The products will be offered in 14 global markets, including the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

This deal further binds a relationship between the software giant and Publicis. Just last month, Paris-based Publicis agreed to acquire digital agency Razorfish from Microsoft.

So, what does this mean? It is the type of focus the mobile market needs to attract more advertising dollars. Can this partnership truly move the needle? I think so. These two have the market heft to make a significant difference. Remember, Microsoft has a mobile search and ad deal with Verizon Wireless. The opportunity is there. Now they (Phonevalley-MS) need to execute and not screw it up. Google is ever lurking.

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Mobile Numbers Tell an Interesting Story

[Posted by Neil Strother]

Some interesting numbers you might have missed in the past few days. VeriSign said it delivered a record 94.8 billion mobile messages (SMS, MMS, A2P) worldwide in the second quarter, up more than 82% from the same quarter a year ago.

OK, but now the clincher: the company delivered nearly 179 billion messages globally in the first half of the year. To put this into perspective, that equates to 26 messages for every person on the planet (6.7 billion). Staggering.

Premium content (alerts, ringtones, voting, etc.) also rose, with premium SMS transactions growing 36% in the quarter compared to the second quarter of 2008, VeriSign said. Marketers continue to recognize that SMS is the most efficient way to reach a wide audience on mobile, something we pointed out in our recent report on best practices for mobile marketing. So, in spite of all the hype surrounding marketing via mobile applications - which we like, mind you - text messaging still delivers the reach.

What do you think? Post a comment below.

FCC Probe Has Mobile Ad Implications

[Posted by Neil Strother]

The FCC is launching a wide-ranging investigation of the wireless industry. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wants to "look more broadly at all of the elements that affect the mobile marketplace."

Included in the sweeping study will be mobile application developers, software makers and mobile content providers, many of whom have an advertising component as part of their business models.

Marketers need to keep an eye on this probe. It could lead to some significant changes for carriers, and by extension how advertising fits in with mobile applications and mobile Internet services. With a probe this open, it's hard to tell how far it will go, and what new regulatory changes might be imposed. But one thing seems certain with this more hands-on commission: the landscape is about to shift.

What's your take? How will the FCC probe impact the mobile landscape and mobile marketers? Post a comment below.

Mobile Web Audience Is Larger Than You Think

[Posted by Neil Strother]
Marketers take note: mobile audiences continue to build. Two major Web destinations offered some new evidence this week:

  • Weather.com attracts 12.5 million monthly unique visitors to its mobile site
  • People.com's site generates 18 million mobile page views a month

Moreover, Weather.com's 'repeat rate' among mobile visitors is nearly 100 percent, says Cameron Clayton, VP of mobile for The Weather Channel Interactive.

Other popular mobile destinations - Yahoo! (34 million monthly uniques) and ESPN (6.7 million), for instance - boast significant audiences as well. Expect these mobile audiences to grow as more people access sites from devices like the iPhone, BlackBerrys, and Android handsets, which deliver a more satisfying mobile Web experience than standard mobile phones. If you're looking to target the growing mobile Web audience, Forrester can help you frame a sensible strategy. See "Best Practices: Mobile Marketing" as a place to start (if you're a Forrester client, it's available in full).

Have you placed ads on mobile Web sites? What was your experience? Post a comment below.