Whatley Wednesday – Mobile Advertising

I read this article last week entitled “Why 2008 won’t be the breakthrough year for Mobile Advertising”. It was originally published in the middle of Mobile World Congress.

It makes for very good reading and clearly outlines the one caveat that is currently preventing the mobile advertising boom that has been promised for the past seven years: Advertisers simply don’t have the money to buy mobile ads. Nate Elliott also goes onto theorise that interesting things may happen in 2009 and the real (European) breakthrough will come in 2010.

After spending a few days digesting, I have to say that it is one theory that I buy into… It’s nearly here and the recently announced Mobile Ad deals laid out in that piece show this. Combine that with the consistent month on month growth rate of companies like Blyk – who have bet the farm on this particular return of investment – and you can see that we’re almost at tipping point. But, again, as the article points out, we’ve been almost at tipping point for just shy of a decade.
By way of comparison, in the UK there’s a TV programme called Skins, (it’s young, a bit good, knows its audiences and once you’ve watched a few you’re hooked) and recently E4, the younger, digital sister channel of Channel 4, started airing Season 2.

This in itself is really no big deal. However the amount of cash spent on the blanket marketing is.

You can’t get away from it!

And not in a bad way either. The TV spots are stylised; hinting at character development and yet still keeping the dark, surreal undertone that flows throughout the show. The ‘skincasts’, Podcasts containing interviews with the cast members are there for you to download to your MP3 player of choice, the community is there.

One of the interesting side effects of the first season, and something the UK media like to jump when there’s a slow news day, is the amount of young teenagers throwing themed ‘skins parties’ and, if you’ve ever seen the show, they don’t leave much to the imagination.

The new campaigns around season 2 are aimed at these people. Tapping into this (youth) market, this mindset is a genius move that has (probably) done wonders for their ratings. And it’s not just TV ratings these days either. Other KPIs include web hits, unique visitors, content downloads, podcast listeners, community members etc… There’s a lot to be measured.

So what about Mobile? Is all the money in mobile ads? Probably not.

Is there money to be made from mobile ads? A little, although not the billions that everyone thinks. Not yet anyway. Not without some joined-up thinking around context vs content etc…

2yrs ago I was told “Content is King”, I said then what I still say now. Context is King. You can send me as much content as you like but if it doesn’t speak to me, I ain’t buying.

I digress.

Taking a look at the E4 mobile proposition.

Screenshot0075

Simple, optimised content which is easy to consume – Basic Mobile Web 101 (but I’ve talked about this before)

Taking a closer look – There are three tabs: Telly, Goss and… SKINS!

Brilliant – Not only that but you can watch a clip from Skins Episode 3 right now – one click away.

That’s great. Not just for the end-user experience but it speaks shedloads about the level of internal buy-in from all parties within the offices of E4.

Skins is clearly their “hero” show for this season and is one of the channel’s better IPs.

This is a fantastic example of a blanket marketing campaign.

Mobile advertising needs to adopt similar thinking. You can’t just throw something into the mobile web and just expect it to work. You need strategy and process. Without this mobile advertising will never be the goose that will lay the golden egg. But it could well be a part of a few select bronze egg laying battery chickens.

The point I’m trying to make with the Skins example is that agencies and big media brands are finally coming to realise the amount of potential that lies in digital media. Mobile is part (albeit a new part) of this space.

And it won’t be long until they catch on. It just needs someone, or something, to make that first leap into the unknown.

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