Mobile marketing series: Why are brands not focusing enough of their attention on mobile?

In a series of Q&As, The Drum speaks to mobile industry insiders to get their views on a number of topics affecting the space.

As part of The Drum’s latest mobile supplement, published this Friday, 8 November, we are publishing a series of articles exploring a range of mobile topics. In today’s article, the first of the series, members of the mobile marketing industry discuss why many marketers are still struggling to get to grips with mobile. With almost half of 18-34 year-olds considering mobile as their ‘first’ screen, according to research from Weve, why are brands still not focusing enough of their attention on mobile? How might this change?James Hilton, CEO, M&C Saatchi MobileWhilst many brands are truly engaging with mobile, clearly this is not across the board. I believe a key reason behind this is tracking. Unfortunately mobile has yet to be integrated into the traditional digital tracking solutions that are concerning brands, and confusing many planners. Brands are keen to gain a holistic view on their digital spend and with mobile being separate this makes obtaining this harder to achieve. Thankfully 2013 has seen mobile tracking technologies advance a great deal, which in turn should ensure mobile marketing becomes part a more integral part of brands’ marketing strategies. Simon Hathaway, president, shopper marketing and retail operations, Cheil WorldwideBrands are placing focus on mobile – what’s holding them back is the current cut-and-paste nature of annual budgeting. It’s hampering people from moving as fast as the technology and people using mobile devices. The research from Weve also highlighted that TV was now the third screen in the UK and the question we appear to be avoiding is what that means for traditional media? In Korea, we have research showing that 42 per cent of people do their shopping online whilst watching TV – does that mean that TV is now POSM? This reprioritising of screens is a massive concern for marketers, but clearly much less so for consumers – people now expect to move seamlessly between platforms, channels, media and devices to search for entertainment, products and services, shop for brands and share experiences.James Connelly, co-founder and managing director, FetchThis is a question we often get asked, and it is evident that brands still feel a great deal of uncertainty and confusion when it comes to adopting a mobile strategy. On one hand, there is a fear of difference, where brands wonder whether they should dive into emerging technologies and social-local-mobile. Then there is the challenge of navigating the rapidly-growing mobile space, which remains complex and somewhat fragmented. We see a lot of brands struggling to get it right because they lack good direction and sound strategy. Furthermore, many companies lack the motivation to take mobile seriously because their competitors are not doing so. Regardless of their reasons for not focusing enough on mobile, the fact remains that consumers are more than mobile-ready, and it is absolutely critical for brands to rank mobile highly on the list of marketing priorities. On a separate note, we should not jump on the statistic above (almost half of 18-34 year-olds consider mobile as their first screen) without understanding what they do on their phones, because that’s where the real insight lies. People want mobile to work like 1+1=2, but it’s important to recognise there isn’t one prescription for everything and everyone who’s on mobile. Brands need to take the time to understand how their consumer engage and utilise mobile in order to provide tailored experiences to the right audience in the most ideal context, time and place.Paul Coggins, VP mobile, EbuzzingThe consumer switch towards tablets in particular, happened at an unprecedented rate. Unfortunately, conservative attitudes and media plans created well in advance mean advertisers have struggled to adapt to the meteoric shift in consumer behaviour. The way tablets and smartphones have developed created significant obstacles for brands. Mobile video has been a notoriously difficult nut to crack; traditional pre-roll formats haven’t been particularly successful. These challenges means brands haven’t always given mobile the attention it deserves. By next year I expect we will see a change in attitudes. Multiscreens are already coming of age, as shown in the IAB’s H1 online adspend report. We are at a paradigm shift in users’ media consumption and I think we’ll see more branded video messages becoming ubiquitous on all mobile devices in the future.Victor Malachard, CEO and co-founder, AdfonicSome brands have embraced mobile and are increasingly finding that metrics can compete with or even outperform desktop. The more they learn about mobile, the more they're able to extract value from it. Other brands are reluctant because of various reasons including lack of experience in mobile, fear of inappropriate placement, lack of control and not being convinced of the returns. Given that this is such new territory for everyone, these fears are understandable. The onus lies on the mobile advertising companies to educate them and show how mobile advertising can be brand-safe, particularly through real-time bidding (RTB) and premium placement; how a mobile demand-side platform (DSP) ensures control because they can see exactly where their ads are performing and optimise to that performance; and how to build and use mobile optimised landing pages, accessed through ad formats such as rich media rather than simply porting online banner ads.Andy Beames, sales group head, BlisMedia We are talking about a generation that has grown up with the internet and smartphones, so this is hardly surprising to hear. Some advertisers have been slow to react and take advantage of reaching their core audience on their primary screens. This can perhaps be blamed on out of date associations with mobile – that you can’t engage a user on a small screen, it provides a poor customer experience, there is no tracking to speak of etc. This has changed, and continues to change dramatically. With more sites employing responsive design sites like Apple and Google offering a tracking system (IDFA or Android Device IDs) that a user can opt out of and with the increasing engaging ways that advertisers can use rich media to get the consumers’ attention, the opportunities are rife. Twitter seem to have realised that there are huge opportunities between TV and social media. Its launch of Amplify, which places sponsored video clips in a user’s feed, may just turn out to be the perfect combination of mobile, TV and social media.Abhay Singhal, co-founder, VP of global sales and MD EMEA, InMobiBrands are steadily increasing their focus on mobile, evidenced by reports such as the IAB/PwC Digital Ad Spend Report, which shows how mobile display advertising in particular has been growing exponentially each year. We are now seeing large brands implement requirements for spending that double or triple the budget allocation to mobile ads from what we had seen in the past. Brands are realising the level of personalisation, targeting, and engagement that mobile facilitates and are rapidly increasing spend on this channel. Paul Berney, CMO and MD EMEA, Mobile Marketing AssociationThere isn’t one single cause of this gap, it is a combination of things like a need for more research to prove the effectiveness of mobile marketing and a lack of skills and knowledge among marketers. The MMA is addressing the first of those by creating global research studies on cross-media effectiveness. The second highlights a need for more education for marketers. I have found this to be consistently true worldwide. This is the main driver behind me leaving the MMA to create a new company aimed exactly at solving this issue. Mark Emmett, chief information officer, ResponseTapI think many brands still underestimate the impact of mobile as a sales channel, and this comes down to attribution. The issue is that many brands only track conversions when they take place within the mobile browser. In reality, most consumers research brands on a mobile device but then call to purchase. For example, we’ve got data showing that although 3.3 per cent of transactions are made using a mobile browser, when you include calls made from a smartphone, this figure jumps to 8.8 per cent.Tresilian Segal, head of marketing Northern Europe, Adobe Marketing Cloud Brands are still not focusing enough attention on mobile, with recent Adobe research revealing nearly half of marketers don’t currently have a mobile strategy (41 per cent) and just three per cent are a mobile first organisation. While mobile might not be as relevant for each industry, it will be vital for others – companies need to determine the right business fit. An example of this is the travel industry; a customer might not purchase a long, expensive holiday through their mobile but is more likely to book an overnight stay or flights to Europe. When it comes to mobile there are three things that businesses need to consider: how relevant is mobile to your audience, how does mobile fit into your business strategy and do you have the infrastructure in place? Once you have these answers, you can determine your mobile strategy. Due to the demand around mobile, many companies are in the process of assessing their infrastructures to ensure that they can offer a tailored, on-the-go experience for mobile users. Providing a unique mobile customer experience truly enhances the relationship that the customer has with the brand. This is now what customers are beginning to expect and what brands need to survive and thrive in this data-driven, socially minded era of marketing and commerce.Erfan Djazmi, head of mobile EMEA, EssenceWhile some brands will dip their toe in and test elements of mobile, only very few adopt a mobile-first approach. Mobile-first isn’t an easy, quick change for many businesses. It requires brands to change their way of thinking about their strategy and resources. Not only does the business need collective buy-in to this shift, but silos need to broken down and people pro-actively up-skilled. This affects the whole business. But when brands start to see their competitors gaining advantage, they will open their hearts and minds to a mobile-first approach, and soon reap the benefits.