Convergence Please!

Daryn Wober, Vice-President, Business Development for IMImobile Europe, argues that brands that get to grips with mobile, and develop intergrated online/mobile campaigns, will reap the rewards

IMI In todays connected society, consumers want content and services at the touch of a button; whether it is online or via a mobile device, all that matters to them is that they can access their content of choice. Most of the relevant industries have responded with enthusiasm – the multimedia, broadband-enabled devices and the infrastructure have both been created, while the content has been adapted as required, and access is affordable to a mass market. This ought to be a perfect environment for brands to follow the consumer on to their platform of choice. Yet although the advertising community has latched on to the online opportunity with enthusiasm, the mobile platform remains largely unexploited. Why is it that companies are not fully embracing the mobile environment to create fully converged marketing campaigns?

Primary communications device
With around 4 billion mobile users around the world, the mobile handset has become the primary communications device for many. Its personal nature, coupled with its multimedia capabilities and increasingly high speed connectivity, suggest that the consumer love affair with the device is only just beginning, and its obviously not just about voice calls. According to Frost & Sullivan even the humble text message will see a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of almost 16% between 2007 and 2011. And thanks to much more capable devices like the iPhone, and all you can eat data packages, we are now finally starting to exploit the full data capabilities of the platform. This ought to be an advertising nirvana, but the reality is that the industry is littered with the remains of those who got it wrong.
We dont have to look far to discover why, and it comes down to two primary factors. The first is the apparent (and sometimes actual) complexity of the mobile platform. Brands and their agencies do need to gain an understanding of the opportunities available, which range from simple SMS advertising alerts, ringtones and wallpapers, to in-video insertions and sophisticated location-based targeting within games or social networking applications. They also need to know how to get a marketing message, in the right format, across a variety of operator networks, to each one of the thousands of different handset models that may be in use. Finally, they also need to be able to deal with the interactions from the target consumers.

Mistrust of the medium
The second factor, as noted in a September 2008 report from media measurement group, Nielsen, is a mistrust of the medium. Advertisers need to know that consumers are receptive to mobile advertising before they will invest. As Nielsen points out, those with advertising dollars to spend dont trust consumer receptivity, they dont trust ROI and they dont trust their ability to track performance. That shouldnt come as any surprise – many of the campaigns we now see on mobile simply dont have the tracking and measurement mechanisms in place to make the necessary judgments.
Given these two factors, the reluctance of many is understandable. As online and mobile audiences grow, however, converged campaigns are going to become more necessary. A multichannel mobile campaign that is fully integrated with the online elements is the future. The good news is that solutions are already available that streamline the process and have built in tracking and measurement to demonstrate the return on investment.
Those that get it right reap the rewards. Facebook, for instance, is an enterprise that has created a seamless converged experience. A mobile interface, available to a wide variety of users, that takes account of both the limitations and advantages of the platform to enhance and extend the online experience. Facebook already has over 5 million monthly users via the mobile platform, evidence that, when properly implemented, the online experience can be adapted to mobile and enhanced.
Perfume company Coty Prestige, working with media agency OMD, is another good example. Coty launched Gwen Steffanis Harajuku Lovers Fragrance Collection earlier this year, offering users entertainment content via both online and mobile platforms. Using a managed service provider, OMD was able to launch the World of Harajuku Lovers website and mobile WAP platform, offering fans the opportunity to enter competitions to further engage with the brand. Fans could enter themselves into a karaoke competition by recording their entry at branded Harajuku Lovers booths dotted around the UK. Users could then vote for their favourite karaoke clip, with further opportunities to win prizes online and via the WAP platform.

Consolidated approach
Delivering a fully converged online and mobile campaign needs a consolidated approach to campaign design, deployment and management. It is something that requires the infrastructure, knowledge and expertise of a managed service provider, rather than the point solutions for individual campaign elements that we often see today. With those facilities available, much of the process can be automated, and agencies are able to focus on the creative elements. The managed service provider deals with content ingestion, reformatting and delivery across the chosen networks and has the reporting tools that produce the market intelligence.
Juniper research estimates that the mobile advertising market will grow to $7.6 billion (4.7 billion) by 2013, a CAGR of 42% since 2008. For that estimate to become reality, and potentially to be exceeded, it is vital that creative agencies work more closely, at an early stage, with managed service providers capable of delivering end-to-end solutions. If that happens, brands will quickly understand the wide range of possibilities and the potential returns, the complexities will be irrelevant and the ROI will be demonstrated.