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Column: Mobile Marketers Are Way Too Slow for SoLoMo World

Mindshare's Stoller: in mobile, brands must react more, like reporters

Brian Stoller Photo by Samantha Sin

Brian Stoller is a 16-year digital advertising industry veteran. He's also one of the first executives to tackle mobile advertising in its earliest days. The North American leader of digital strategy at Mindshare believes that the biggest opportunity in mobile for brands is to move fast and react to challenges, think like journalists, all while embracing local and data.

In a Social-Local-Mobile world, consumers wait for nobody. They cash checks in mere moments with their phones. They invite friends, review and select movies, and purchase tickets just hours or minutes before arriving at the theater. Texts to friends. Tweets to followers. It all moves in an instant. It’s ironic, then, that mobile marketers are following so slowly behind.

In the new So-Lo-Mo environment in which we work, time becomes the critical factor for success. 

Speed to market, speed to react, speed to publish—these are the challenges that need to be addressed for each of the paid, owned and earned media channels. Simply implementing new multiscreen publishing tools for adaptive design is not enough to overcome these challenges. Successful brands must simultaneously embrace "adaptive planning," making near real-time decisions based on social, local and mobile responses from audience and customers alike. In short, they need to move as quickly as their customers. They need to be Adaptive Marketers.

Adaptive Marketing leverages the new data streams from a wide range of sources to make more informed decisions about a consumer’s receptiveness to a message. Big data, small data, digital data and analog data all play an important part in understanding relevancy. Only by looking at this data through the social, local and mobile lenses, can we develop an understanding of what that customer is encountering at that moment and what response is most appropriate to change perceptions. 

Social media experts are the first adaptive marketers. By the nature of the very channel in which they operate, social media marketers understand that waiting too long to respond to a post, request or complaint decreases the value of the response. Similarly, our display advertising and POS/local responses need to be equally adaptable to “news cycles” in rapid response. Today’s digital media trading desk technologies (DSP’s) are certainly intelligent engines of optimization, targeting and delivery, but adaptive decision-making cannot be entirely programmatic. It means embracing a culture change within the organization. As with any cultural shift, this one does not come without its obstacles.

With a myriad of new media channels, each providing data sets for performance and engagement often comes “analysis paralysis”—whereby marketers become inundated rather than energized by the information. By the time they activate, the consumer has moved on and the opportunity is lost. 

Adaptive planners don’t move like event planners—developing action items for a one-off occurrence nine weeks in the future. They act like a newsroom—analyzing the raw data quickly, identifying the headline and publishing their story while the news is hot—before the consumer moves on and finds the next big thing.  

The market typically functions under the false belief that the solution lies within a media partner or technology that will be adopted quickly and at scale to solve their issues. But being adaptable is not about adopting a new mobile app, or being the first to utilize Twitter’s new Vine app in a marketing campaign. Nor is it a new multiscreen CMS (Content Management System) to publish across multiple devices. There is no single "partner solution" that an advertiser can purchase to overcome the challenges of Mobility. It is about adopting a mind-set—an understanding that a mobile consumer is only receptive to customized, rapid-response marketing.

It stands to reason that in a market defined by speed, being too slow can cost you the race. To adapt to this new reality, it requires not an app but an aptitude for change. Being nimble and responsive is not a stand-alone skill but a behavior that pervades every part of the enterprise.

Like a good reporter, marketers must know that their story is only relevant for a finite period of time. Those who move to slow risk losing their audience forever.

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