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Mobile advertising is on track to be a $7.29 billion industry in the U.S. by the close of 2013 ($100 million more than projected in December 2012 by eMarketer). And it should come as no surprise to marketers that Facebook, Google and Twitter are the big names behind the push. Two years ago, neither Facebook nor Twitter earned a penny on mobile revenue; this year, Facebook’s earnings are expected to reach $964.9 million, and Twitter $266 million. With new tools such as Vine extending the possibilities for brands to market themselves online in creative and relevant ways, it’s no wonder that Vertical Marketing Network has seen more and more clients adopt mobile as a continuing strategy. Blogging Out Loud talked to Phil Saifer, President of Vertical Marketing Network, and Naushad Huda, who heads up their partner interactive agency, Xtopoly, about current trends.
Blogging Out Loud: What do you see as the most exciting trend in mobile marketing?
Naushad Huda: The most exciting thing to me is the attention that mobile is receiving from brands. What I mean by that is “mobile” is becoming less of an afterthought; it’s an important part of the entire marketing campaign. It’s the part that is high-touch with consumers, so it’s as important as any other channel. The tactics used to execute a mobile marketing strategy are secondary to the strategy itself, and how this strategy works in concert with other digital and traditional channels.
Phil Saifer: We are truly at the tipping point where mobile is becoming a truly effective strategy for many brands. Given budgetary restrictions, mobile was often cut in past years. Now marketers are seeing the incredible power of mobile and it is making the cut over more traditional marketing tools.
BOL: Is there any reason for brands not to “go mobile?”
NH: I’m hard-pressed to think of a reason any brand would not want to embrace mobile. Mobile penetration is at nearly 100% in the United States. Over 50% of the population uses a smartphone, and it’s the only device in history that is constantly with the consumer from when they wake to when they sleep. It’s hard to imagine a brand not integrating mobile to some extent; it’s kind of silly.
PS: I completely agree with Naushad. Just look at traditional forms of communications. With DVRs, viewership of TV advertising is a challenge. With satellite radio, traditional radio is being diluted. We all know about how newspapers are dropping like flies. Connecting with consumers via mobile is such an opportunity for marketers.
BOL: Have any brands caught your attention in their innovative use of mobile marketing?
NH: Starbucks is a favorite. They took the much talked about idea of mCommerce and brought it to life; it’s a sophisticated strategy they deployed that took into consideration not only mobile technology but also usage in-store that made the most sense for a consumer. They overlaid this with retention and engagement hooks all wrapped around a pleasant UI in the app. Honestly, I prefer Coffee Bean, but the Starbucks app has shifted my consumer behavior towards SBUX.
PS: I would add Trader Joe’s to the mix of those getting mobile right. They are using location-based technology to help consumers find their nearest store locations and they have also integrated its Fearless Flyer to mobile where consumers are able to easily browse specials and last-minute dinner solutions.
BOL: Any statistics that you think are especially hard-hitting for marketers?
NH: Mobile smartphone penetration (mentioned above). Mobile media spending and performance stats. The sheer number of time spent on mobile versus other digital devices.
PS: Statistics are great, but the deciding factor is how marketers have been experiencing positive results from well-crafted mobile strategies.
BOL: Any other thoughts/observations?
NH: Mobile is a strategy, and it should be treated as such. Tactics in mobile change, grow and evolve, so marketers need to place their emphasis on the overall business goal and strategy and not just the tactic.
PS: It’s all about creating, communicating and connecting with consumers and mobile can build deeper ties with a brand’s consumer target.