If advertisers thought online/digital advertising was a challenge, there is bad news. A tidal wave is about to hit a brand near you. It has few standards or metrics and hundreds of hardware and software configurations and interfaces. Yes, this is mobile advertising, and it's everything you ever imagined and more.
The good news: If we think the Internet holds promise as an interactive medium, then we ain't seen nothin' yet. Mobile advertising is the Internet on steroids, the Holy Grail for brands. Cell phones are always on, always with you, and can be a completely personalized interactive experience.
Now don't just pop off and start sending out insertion orders! Take a deep breath. There are some golden rules to consider. First off, relevancy is critical if mobile advertising stands a chance of survival. Although the medium offers the perfect opportunity to deliver personalized and engaging messages to the right audience at the right time, there are hundreds of companies that will take your money and kill your brand.
Are you just looking to drive conversions and make the cash register ring? Mobile search has your name written all over it. Are you trying to reach the Bentley/Cartier/Paris Hilton crew? The iPhone isn't just a status symbol; it's an excellent way to deliver rich video and audio ads as users shuttle between red carpets. Or are you just looking to wholly absorb and engross consumers based on demographics that you identify? The world is ready.
On the heels of CTIA Wireless in Las Vegas, the mack daddy of trade shows, one thing is evident: The promise of mobile is enormous and comes at the perfect time -- right when advertisers and agencies are begging for a new medium that lives up to the potential the Internet had. For consumers, the mobile Web comes in a nice personal wrapper. It's content they pre-select, packaged for shorter and more direct attention spans. Mobile advertising leverages that personal connection and reaches consumers right when they're most interested in finding what they want.
There's more good news: Smart, bold companies spent all of 2007 testing, testing, testing. Sony Ericsson recently promoted a new phone through sponsored search and measured the campaign's success by how many interactions it got with users on its mobile Web site. MTV uses paid search to drive targeted traffic to its mobile site, and Coca-Cola already has run integrated promotional campaigns in several countries. In fact, a BMW executive recently said, "We believe mobile advertising contributes to the general cohesiveness of our communications strategy and will only become more important over time." Any questions?!
In 2008, the top two advertisers already have eight-figure budgets allocated to mobile. That's a lot of money.
Take a deep breath. It's not too late to get started. There are many possibilities out there, as well as companies that can help you not only get started in mobile, but get started right. No spam, no dancing mortgages and no obnoxious pop-ups.
If there is one advertising medium where there is no margin for error, it's mobile. Cell phones are personal. People want ads that mean something and help them find what they want, when they want it, in a way that best suits them. This is the new millennium, and Internet advertising is so last century.
Paran Johar is chief marketing officer at JumpTap in New York. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.