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Why marketers should pay attention to mobile media

By Jordan Greene

Considering the financial events of the past few months, it is clear that a wake-up call is being sounded across the entire business community.

The ramifications are forcing virtually every company to re-think how they do business and determine where they are susceptible to losses and financial waste.

It should be blatantly apparent that the same old methods have not been working for awhile, and now consumers are the ones exposing those weaknesses.

Starbucks, once the shining star for branding and daily decadence, announced that their profits for the past quarter dropped a staggering 97 percent year over year.

This is just a recent example of how all kinds of companies need to address their audience better and make their expenditures go further.

The demand for advertising accountability is climbing faster than a scared spider monkey. Yet media plans remain so focused on traditional areas that lack the effectiveness they once had.

However, sitting on the sidelines is one media outlet that can deliver significant return on investment and strong consumer engagement opportunities. It works well with its traditional brethren, and has great price points.

Let me introduce you to my good friend, mobile media.

The time of thinking of mobile as just an "emerging media" has passed.

There is a 255-million-person audience that uses their current mobile devices for multiple purposes.

The visual, audio and interactive elements that are offered directly in a consumer's pocket are undisputable. It is merely a matter of creatively wielding the underlying technology to engage people, based on the business needs of companies.

The mobile phone can be a business' strongest direct response channel. It can be a natural extension of existing online and offline services. It can be the avenue to build one-to-one relationships with an entirely new customer base.

Doesn't this sound like the game plan that companies are currently searching for?

From a financial standpoint, mobile media is highly economical in the current marketplace.

As the mobile arena as a whole grew in its hype cycle, it drew a flood of new development and media platform companies. As a result of the new competition, and supply far exceeding demand, prices have dropped considerably, even in areas where companies are not direct competitors.

Companies that offer text messaging campaigns are being forced down by mobile banner ad networks offering options on the cheap, which then affects the next subgroup, and so on.

Essentially, if companies use the word "mobile" somewhere in their elevator pitch, you can drive them down on price and extend your budget considerably.

The same is not true with traditional media.

Find your favorite research report and they all point out the same thing: network-television watching is down considerably from last year.

In an environment where the consumer can choose from hundreds of channels -- if they even choose to watch TV instead of YouTube or Hulu -- it seems backwards to be moving media dollars towards network TV ad buys.

However, this is precisely what multiple brands and agencies are currently doing. Economic uncertainty should drive innovation and creativity and not push companies even further back to ultra-traditional approaches.

It used to be that playing it safe kept your job. However, the current tolerance for lack of results is much lower, and accounts and business are lost just that quickly.

Instead, taking an approach that is practical, yet also dramatically increases your brand goals, seems prudent.

A $100,000 spend on TV buys may give you a couple of 30-second spots, some DVR-skipping and ultimately diminishing returns.

That same money spent in mobile can create a robust campaign complete with nationwide targeted media and direct consumer interactions, while creating a cornerstone for building customer relationships for the next decade.

Even better, using the two media outlets in an integrated platform can yield results beyond the benefits of each alone.

Adding text message calls-to-action in TV commercials that drive consumers to the company's new mobile environment increases engagement without increasing costs.

For example, a Detroit car company debuts its new hybrid during an ad spot on the nightly network news. This takes advantage of the wide potential audience that TV still affords, and creates a launching point for consumer engagement.

The spot announces a sweepstakes where the company will give out a new car to one person in every state over the next 50 days, accessible only by sending in a text message.

Consumers respond, and receive a branded text message that further promotes the vehicle, and has a link to the new car's mobile Web site.

As the brand is clever, the site goes beyond simple specifications, and engages the consumer viscerally, selling the experience of the car itself and enabling the scheduling of a "test experience."

While the news plays, a concurrent mobile advertising initiative launches with shrewdly-placed mobile banner ads running on sites and applications. All roads lead back to the mobile site.

With this effort, audience reach is both targeted and wide-spanning. And every interaction has tracking and accountability built into it. Media buying just got a whole lot smarter.

The environment has clearly shaped the need for change, and for marketers, mobile media represents an easy, smart choice. It is only a matter of getting some good counsel to get started.

There is no reason to begin from scratch, as you can "buy" the understanding of the media from people and companies experienced in the area.

Find your mobile maven, and let them guide you to de-mystify this world. Your marketing dollars demand it.

Jordan Greene is principal of mobile media at Mella Media, New York. Reach him at