Mobile Advertising: The New Marketing Imperative - Dan Hodges

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Since 2008, we have witnessed the meteoric growth in consumer adoption of smartphones and on a lesser scale, tablets. The growing ubiquity of smartphones reminds me of the early days of high-speed, broadband Internet service in that they are both examples of technological advances unlocking and unleashing a fundamental shift in how consumers use technology to enhance quality of life.

What's disturbing is that most advertisers don't seem to fully grasp the enormity of what these trends mean in terms of the impact it will have on how they'll have to engage their customers moving forward. Mobile messaging and communication must move to the fore as the fundamental dynamic that informs all brand and direct response communications and marketing messaging moving forward. Yet, why is it that only 1% of advertisers' budgets are being allocated to mobile marketing while 30% of consumers have adopted smartphones. In a couple years, that number will skyrocket to a level of market saturation.

For those CMOs, who refuse to buy into the inevitable scenario of mobile, allow me to share a couple of transformational trends from the past few years that illustrate my point.

Consider all the people, who in 2008 had subscriptions to their local newspapers—the print versions--, but in 2012 now reads the news on their smartphones or tablets. Alternatively, think of the multitudes of consumers, who in 2008 looked up TV and movie times or clipped coupons in their Sunday papers, but now do all of this on their smartphones or tablets.

As marketers, we need to ask ourselves how to account and plan for rapid changes in consumer behavior in our media mix modeling. This is especially true when trying to figure out how to invest in a dynamic and potentially limitless marketplace. Take shopping, for example. Just ten years ago, consumers were shifting from shopping in stores to the Web. Today, shopping apps are the fastest growing category of apps and 73 percent of smartphone owners use their phones while shopping. Given these dynamics, every marketer needs to ask how smartphone owners use their phones now and how they will use them in five years.

Here are the fundamentally important questions marketers must address today in order to compete:

How do you allocate your marketing investments in a dynamic and rapidly changing marketplace?When trying to reach your target audience you need to know how they are consuming media today as compared to 2008. With that information in hand, you can then project how consumers are likely to consume media in 2015. For example, a recent study by Nielsen shows that 40 percent of brands have Web sites that are also optimized for mobile viewing and 17 percent for m-commerce. Since that percentage is bound to increase alongside mobile usage, it is important to determine how adeptly you are responding to, or better yet – creating, a changing market. As Steve Jobs said, "innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."

What are the implications of 185 million smartphones? Smartphones are the first two-way, always-on medium. This means they offer users a way to respond to advertising messages and order goods and services at the push of a button. A smartphone universe of 185 million users makes smartphones a mass medium. Smartphones are already the first full-funnel medium with purchase, loyalty, awareness, and consideration in the palm of the consumer's hand. It is also the only medium that consumers carry with them 24/7. With this entirely unique medium, marketers have a new world before them with limits we cannot even begin to see.

What should you do as marketers? The definition of opportunity is the chance to do something. Now is the time for innovation in a fast-moving world. At a time when consumers are individually and collectively changing how they consume goods and services, marketers need to be more nimble and adept at anticipating change than ever before. As Rupert Murdoch said, "The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow."

In this scenario, the hare always beats the tortoise.

Dan Hodges is Chief Revenue Officer of Verve Wireless, Dan works directly with agencies and brands providing solutions and partnerships across Verve’s national footprint of premium local media properties. Dan can be reached at

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