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Brands, ad agencies want simplicity in mobile advertising: CTIA panelists

CTIA panel: What do brands and ad agencies want?

The crowd at CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment 2008

SAN FRANCISCO - As mobile saturation approaches 80 percent in the United States, there is little argument that mobile provides an incredible opportunity for brands to interact with nearly every consumer demographic.

Even given that potential, though, mega-brands and the agencies that advise them are reluctant to dive headfirst into mobile campaigns. Panelists discussed why this is so at the CTIA I.T. & Entertainment 2008 panel "Mobile Marketing Ecosystem: What Brands and Agencies Want."

"We play in all parts of the ecosystem, as an ad network, a publisher and an advertiser, and I can tell you that brands want to sell things, they want money," said David Katz, vice president of mobile advertising and publishing services for Yahoo, Sunnyvale, CA.

"As a publisher, we need to deliver real value to brands, we need to aggregate large audiences in ways that are easy for brands to access," he said.

Concerns of advertisers range from lack of dependable reporting and metrics to fragmentation in the industry and the costly nature of newer technologies such as MMS and mobile video.

"Between the brands and carriers there are all of these piecemeal offerings, a challenging milieu of different players, none of which provide a clear path from brand to consumer," said Julie Preis, general manager of North America for Ansible Mobile, New York.

"We have to clarify what the different paths to consumer are going to be and reduce fragmentation," she said.

Often times, the newness of the space is off-putting to brands.

"Today mobile is tremendously difficult, and the complexity of the mobile ecosystem is a factor," Mr. Katz said. "At times we act as a concierge service, helping brands think through what they need to get this campaign live, which is a problem for scale.

"We need to turn mobile marketing into something replicable and scalable over time," he said.

The moderator compared the concierge model to "hand-holding," which is expensive for publishers, as opposed to the more-or-less self-serve model of the Internet.

"Today we spend a lot of energy building creatives and landing pages, helping brands to get the assets in place they need to run a mobile campaign," Mr. Katz said. "We need a partnership between ad networks and agencies to create a much better understood flow to how you bring a campaign live."

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The time it takes to launch a mobile campaign is a serious concern.

"The process of moving brands from traditional and Web advertising to mobile has a longer runway than is necessary," Ms. Preis said. "We're having to go through all these different steps, and it's taking 12 weeks of set up and certification to get from the point of inception to actually launching the campaign.

CTIA panel: What do brands and ad agencies want?

Ansible Mobile

"I'd like to eliminate 11/12 of that time," she said. "We want to be able to implement immediately but there are challenges, from a lack of trust to not utilizing the medium properly."

Accountability and metrics were hot topics of the day.

"The harder stuff to accomplish is measurement, accountability for mobile campaigns is very difficult," Mr. Katz said. "It's hard for a brand to know that the ads ran where and when they were supposed to."
Still, despite challenges, when run properly, mobile marketing can be a profitable venture for all parties involved, and the potential for growth is limitless.

CTIA panel: What do brands and ad agencies want?

Yahoo's booth at CTIA

"Mobile Internet usage is on the upswing, and while traffic is still pretty small compared to online, the monetization per thousand page views is pretty good," Mr. Katz said. "As the audience grows, the more money we'll make."

Sometimes, a more direct approach gets results.

"Mobile marketing is about building a relationship between the consumer and the brand and simple, clear calls-to-action with specific incentives are the most effective strategies," Ms. Preis said. "Successful campaigns are easy for consumers to participate in, and there's not necessarily a distinct brand message but definitely a dialogue and a focus on utilizing that dialogue to let consumers speak back to the brand.

"That's how brands will figure out what consumers want to see," she said. "We need to figure out how we move our brand partners from dabbling to real participants in this space, getting them to understand power of the mobile medium so they become ongoing participants in this new market."

Related content: Associations, CTIA IT and Entertainment 2008, CTIA, San Francisco, David Katz, Yahoo, Julie Preis, Ansible Mobile, mobile advertising, mobile marketing, mobile

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