Kick Starting the Mobile Advertising Industry

At last, a common-sense approach to mobile advertising. Jeremy Copp, CEO of Rapid Mobile Media, offers a five-step plan to turn mobile advertisings potential into something more tangible 

The mobile advertising market is set to be a huge global industry most projections agree that it will be worth more than $10 billion in two to four years time. However, in common with many nascent markets, there are challenges in building initial traction it has become a running joke that every past couple of years has been the year of mobile advertising, and this and next year are looking like they will carry the same label. The challenges arise from trying to introduce a diverse, growing and substantial new advertising channel to an established industry which already has significant high volume business delivering into print, TV, radio and online.
In order to successfully introduce the mobile advertising channel and stimulate its initial growth, some creative measures in business practice and models are necessary. Here are five suggestions for action from all parts of the value chain to improve the chances of the earliest success for all involved:

1. Make it worthwhile for the media buyers to focus attention on the mobile channel
The volume and size of mobile advertising deals available at this early stage of the market look unattractive compared to established media channels when traditional remuneration plans for the buyers are applied (typically a share in the campaign budget). The revenue available is often currently insufficient to warrant participating in the mobile space, let alone building mobile specialist practices.
The advertising agencies and brands, together with the media buyers, need to agree alternative, equitable remuneration structures that will make it viable in the short term for the media buyers to build mobile businesses.

2. Apply creative revenue and delivery models to mobile advertising campaigns, rather than simple per-impression remuneration
The volumes of mobile inventory impressions available for sale are still relatively small compared to other media. However, the targeted and contextualised nature of mobile delivery means that there is still significant value for campaigns. Sponsorship or tenancy deals that are not volume based, offer attractive alternative models for advertiser and publisher alike, and have the potential to be bundled with cross-media campaigns or other marketing initiatives.
The mobile channel also offers the potential to deliver alternative vehicles for brand-based marketing over and above simple display space in existing services, including perhaps the deployment of branded utility applications and mobile Internet destinations that allow the user to engage with the advertiser, at the same time as providing vehicles for further brand messaging through adverts.

3. Simplify the mobile message for the advertising industry
Even though the delivery of advertising to the mobile channel may be technically complex, the underlying principles are very straightforward and common to most other advertising channels. The initial message to the advertising world needs to be clear and concise, focusing on the opportunities to deliver brand messaging and the mechanisms for generating returns on that investment. The complexities of the significant additional facilities the mobile channel offers can be introduced later, once the advertising value chain is engaged, rather than acting as a barrier to entry.
A simple first step in this direction would be for the mobile marketing industry to use a common, coherent vocabulary. I am still surprised to hear both WAP and mobile Internet used interchangeably at mobile marketing conferences: how is the advertising world expected to understand if there is a difference? 

4. Fit in with existing advertising industry practices
The advertising and media industry has very well established workflows for campaign planning, buying and reporting, as well as inventory forecasting, sales, booking and reporting. The addition of the mobile channel to the mix should seek to minimise any changes required to these practices, so reducing any barriers to adoption.

5. Do not artificially segment the mobile advertising audience
It is counter-intuitive to the advertising world to segment the delivery of mobile advertising campaigns in a publishers property by network operator and/or device type. The mobile industry should be providing the capability to deliver campaigns across the broadest range of users, with the optional capability of using the network or device type as a targeting parameter, rather than as a restriction on the available set of consumers.