2009 Mobile Marketplace Recap

IAB Mobile Marketplace: Breaking The Cord—And Staying Connected

It may have looked like a scene from a concert, but the brand marketers, agencies, and publishers in the room weren’t waving phones to the beat (at least not yet). They were making a powerful point—mobile devices have become a nonnegotiable part of daily life. This “third screen” has become prime real estate for marketers because few ever leave home without an always-on lifeline to more information, more entertainment and more access to their social network. Kicked off by IAB President and CEO Randall Rothenberg and his promise to help close the “app gap” –the gulf between marketers who get mobile and those who don't—and navigated by David Doty, SVP, Marketing & Thought Leadership at the IAB as event chair, the robust agenda of the IAB Mobile Marketplace on July 13 in New York showcased real-world insights and practical case studies all day long.

The unique characteristics of the mobile Internet and applications have already enticed many big brands to incorporate the platform into comprehensive marketing strategies. Taco Bell delivered the first of many creative examples throughout the event. Danielle Wolfson, Senior Associate Manager, Taco Bell Interactive, and her team understand how the functionality of the platform puts her closer to overall objectives. When the brand launched a mobile platform in February 2009 to provide utility to the “out and about” consumer, it worked hard to keep its value proposition consistent. The trademark low price menu and late-night hours pair precisely with the in-the-palm-of-your-hand technology to drive hungry customers through the doors of local stores. The menu page accounts for 50 percent of the total page views on the mobile site—proving that 24/7 access is valuable to the specific target audience.

So, mobile advertising works and it’s engaging, but where does a mobile immigrant get started with a buy? The IAB Mobile Buyer's Guide, released during the event, focuses on a surprising aspect of mobile—the buying process is very similar to that of other familiar online platforms. Members of the IAB Mobile Advertising Committee and other industry experts instrumental in the book’s creation shared their insights on the current and future state of the industry. “The mobile Internet is the Internet on steroids,” said Cameron Clayton with The Weather Channel Interactive. “Think about what the banner ad was 10 years ago when no advertiser or agency wanted to touch it.” That’s the leap mobile will take, he suggested. Phuc Truong from U.S. Mobext stressed that mobile is a channel best integrated seamlessly with other channels, segwaying perfectly into the next portion of the session. Kristine Van Dillen from the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) joined Joe Laszlo of the IAB to talk through the efforts of the IAB, MRC (Media Rating Council) and MMA  to create a “common language” so advertisers can compare measurement across campaigns—no matter what screen. The timeline for the completed project is 18 months.

The morning also featured a Marketplace session, unique to IAB events, to introduce marketers and agencies to solutions providers that meet their needs and fit their budgets. Six providers—Microsoft Advertising, Platform-A, Mojiva, AdMob, Dynamic Logic and GoldSpot Media—gave multiple short-burst presentations focusing on their distinct value propositions. Attendees had the opportunity to attend four 15-minute sessions— wasting no time learning which solutions providers they’d like to learn more about and saving the time and complexity of scheduling individual meetings.

Ok, now back to the beat—for real. The “shakable” mobile ad Eric Litman from Medialets and Jamie Wells from OMD’s Ignition Factory put together for Dockers may have gotten the brand’s target audience and the interactive industry’s attention, but it was the star of the ad himself that captured audience’s attention at this event. Dufon, a breakdancer, performed on stage, captivating the audience’s attention for 42 seconds—the average time mobile users engaged with the ad. Designed as a pure branding experience, the ad itself has no click call to action, just the technology to allow the user’s shaking motion to control the dancer’s movement. Litman pointed out that the example is truly an ad unit, not an application—and blurs the boundaries of traditional advertising and entertainment. See the encore breakdancing video here.

So, now that mobile advertising has hit the mainstream, application development continues to push it into unexpected spaces. Where do some of the industry’s most innovative think it is going?

  • Ken Willner from Zumobi – It’s all moving in the directory of smartphones and developers need to put pressure on the distribution points to make it work.
  • Bill Guild from Platform-A – We’re beginning to see the convergence or good “flash” for phones. Developers can build an app and it works everywhere.
  • Michael Lebowitz from Big Spaceship – It’s all about location. It’s a feature that will be used more and more.—But, if I was a brand I’d continue to use the power of print to point the spot light on my mobile application.

The day wrapped up with a creative showcase of campaigns for The Discovery Channel, Nike and BlackBerry calling out the deliberate crafting of content and creative based on device and channel. Richard Ting from R/GA advised the “heavy lifting” should be left for the website, with the quick content accessible on the phone. He also stressed that users don’t distinguish across mediums; they just expect the advertisers to select the platform that makes sense. To a consumer, it’s all just part of the one big ecosystem.

After an intense day of learning by example, the audience filtered into the cocktail reception to network, discuss the vast possibilities of the platform and, of course, check their handhelds. There’s no escaping the daily chores of the office these days—or a marketers targeted message.