“Tech groups are laying big bets on mobile advertising as consumers’ attention shifts from print and radio to smartphones and tablets,” begins a recent story covered by the Financial Times. “But wagers such as Yahoo’s recent purchase of Flurry – said to be its biggest acquisition since Tumblr – are being laid on an emerging revenue stream about which the people who control marketing budgets remain uncertain.”
There’s definitely a valley to traverse before the opportunities of mobile are matched with the requisite advertising attention of marketers.
Today, smartphones and tablets command a constantly growing share of consumer attention — driving profits for companies like Facebook. In other words, if mobile is a huge dinner plate, the spending could fit in a child’s bowl.
“EMarketer predicts worldwide mobile ad spending will jump 84.7 per cent this year to $32.7bn, but make up less than 10 per cent of total ad outlays at a time when consumers use devices for 23 per cent of their time with media,” notes the Financial Times.
“People have their devices with them 24/7 – it’s the closest emotional relationship” with technology, says Shelby Saville, digital director at Spark, a media buying agency owned by Publicis.
There’s a multibillion-dollar growth opportunity right there. But for too many consumer brands, mobile marketing is unknown — and too often untrammeled — territory.
“It’s growing but not growing to where the consumers are,” says Bill Tucker, a former advertising executive now at the American Association of Advertising Agencies, an industry group.
“Everybody’s waiting for other people to learn how,” says Simon Birkenhead, chief executive of Axonix, a mobile ad exchange backed by Telefónica and Blackstone.
Why the hesitation? The Financial Times cites this one, for starters: “It is still common for a potential shopper to research products or check prices on her phone, but buy the product in a store or on a desktop computer, and it can be hard to connect ads to purchases.”
“We believe mobile investments affect what happens in store, but we lack the data to support that,” Tucker says. “We need better third-party measurement models that quantify mobile’s role in driving store traffic and purchases.”