Is mobile really *that* big a deal?

**Correction: Actually, we forecast that direct mail will be at about $67 billion by 2012.  So to my comment below, the astronomical forecast of mobile at $20 billion would be closer to a third, not a half of dm spend by 2012. >Both Josh James and Shantanu Narayen, the CEO of Adobe mentioned mobile in their keynote presentations and now I'm listening to RIM also talk about the power of the mobile browser.

While I can't deny the ubiquity of mobile devices, I'm still cynical about the present marketing application mobile provides.  Josh quoted a stat that $2billion will be spent in mobile marketing this year.  But I can't see how that could be.  That stat is certainly not ours.  In fact, we place  mobile marketing closer to about $560 million this year, and growing to just $1.2 billion by 2014.

As an aside, the RIM speaker just suggested that mobile advertising would reach $20 billion by 2012 (which would be larger than search marketing, represent more than half of all interactive spend and almost half the size of direct mai, BTW).  Does that sound as impossible to you as it does to me?

I certainly believe in the potential value of mobile...it is an extremely targetable medium, allows for a new type of brand and community engagement.  But right now the opportunities around mobile marketing still seem so focused on creating "cool" apps or ads.  Which is counter to the principles we all want to embrace around other interactive media: measurability, accountability, ROI.  I'd like the mobile marketing conversation to focus less on how cool mobile could be, and more about how infrastructure, data and economic hurdles in the mobile space will be overcome.  I just don't think mobile marketing can advance to the degree we all want it to without it first developing some standards that marketers can count on to make their investment worth while.

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re: Is mobile really *that* big a deal?

Shar:

Excellent post. Your last paragraph is right on the money according to a recent survey conducted by R2integrated.

We found that while mobile marketing is recognized as an integral component of digital marketing strategies in 2010, uncertainty looms over its return on investment.

Quantifying the ROI was considered the most critical area of improvement for planned mobile marketing campaigns among respondents at 43 percent. It appears that 2010 will be a year of experimentation and education on mobile marketing as marketers struggle to come to terms with its practicality. This shouldn’t suggest that marketers ought to table their mobile marketing plans, but that they should pay considerable attention to how they can connect the dots back to driving revenue.

The biggest impediments to executing a mobile marketing campaign were “not knowing how to develop the business case,” 32 percent, and “not enough analytics to measure the ROI,” 30 percent. Sixty three percent of respondents said they’d only allocate up to 15 percent of their budgets on mobile marketing.

Another indication that mobile marketing is nascent - more than half (52 percent) of respondents said that their mobile marketing campaign would focus on mobile Web site development channel, while 40 percent said they would focus on mobile application development.

Because the technology is still working to fully prove itself, most marketers are playing it safe by focusing on the mobile browsing experience where they can leverage existing Web assets, rather than on mobile marketing where the ROI proposition is still being evaluated.

re: Is mobile really *that* big a deal?

Matthew -- thank you for your comment and for sharing such great stats. I think mobile marketing development gets further complicated by the proliferation of mobile handsets. Apps built for one handset won't work for all...

re: Is mobile really *that* big a deal?

I've been a skeptic about the efficacy and ROI of mobile marketing for at least the past 9 years, however, I believe 2010 is the turning point. Smartphone penetration is currently around 17% in the U.S. and growing rapidly, and what that means is mobile internet browsing will suddenly make mobile important.

I think the argument you're making needs some parsing. Where does the Internet end and mobile begin?

If you're a retailer, CPG, or automaker, you better understand the ramifications of your consumers having internet access at shelf or in the showroom, and augment your digital strategy according. Most brands didn't create branded content, applications, or marketing activities with this in mind.

I also predict location-based mobile services will be the killer apps of 2011-2012. In the late '90s, marketers complained that the Internet was too disconnected from brick and mortar. Mobile is now becoming the dashboard to the world for millions.

re: Is mobile really *that* big a deal?

I'm in the same book but not the same page, and perhaps a bit more optimistic. Mobile marketing will evolve quickly, but I think mobile as a payment device is much more interesting. The advances in smartphone screens and brightness are going to give near field communication some problems, except for maybe transit. No one wants to miss their commuter train because their cell phone battery is dead. The cycle of novelty giving way to utility will take place much faster in mobile. We'll be there sooner than we think.

Steve