My closest friends have often told me I’m the smartest dumb person they know. It’s not that I’m book smart without street smarts or vice versa. Rather, I have a few traits that sometimes make them question my IQ.
For instance, while traveling in a moving vehicle, and sometimes even just walking, I can’t be trusted to give accurate directions. It’s not that I don’t know that Lake Michigan is always east or that when I scan the skyline, the Hancock building is north and the Sears tower south. It’s simply that I can’t decipher my left from right when asked which way to turn. Coincidentally, it’s similar to a problem the mobile industry is facing.
In a recent interview, Tom Henriksson, the director of interactive at Nokia, referenced the importance of Madison Avenue in the overall growth of the mobile industry: “Advertising will help fuel mobile Web development. Publishers know that if they are going to attract advertisers, they need to attract eyeballs. They certainly are not going to build audiences with dull, text-based content.”
Henriksson also said that “the unique aspects of mobile, like the personal nature of the device, the uncluttered marketing space it offers, and the highly contextually relevant services and targeting, when utilized in the right way, will ensure that mobile will become a major medium for advertisers and marketers.”
Two things embedded within this quote caught my attention. The first one requires expanding the definition of advertising a bit. Henriksson said that publishers need to build audiences via more robust mobile Web experiences to attract advertisers. This philosophy makes sense given that Nokia is now in control of a dominant WAP (define) ad network. But given recent announcements by Nokia about its Ad Lab initiatives in London and Boston, I’m taken aback. Advertisers and brands are a treasure-trove of content ripe for the mobile Web environment.
Attracting advertisers to publishers’ mobile Web pages is only half the task required for success. Simple logo slaps and pure branding efforts don’t work well in the mobile space given the device’s immediacy, utility, and on-demand nature. Ad units must offer consumers a value or a mobile Web experience that allows them to gain access to content or information, to participate in promotions, or just to kill five minutes. WAP ad banner buys only make strategic sense when the full user experience is taken into consideration before the impressions are secured.
And that may be the real problem.
The last sentence of the quote holds the solution. Only when targeting, contextually relevant services, and the device’s personal nature are “utilized in the right way,” will mobile gain prevalence in advertisers’ minds. “Right way” is something many in the industry, on the agency and brand sides especially, have a hard time grasping.
I’m not implying there are no good mobile creative or Web content in market. But as marketing and advertising become crucial to the industry’s sustainability and growth, the right-brained functionality of thinking about mobile has largely been left by the wayside.
A quick Google search actually confirmed this. I searched on several configurations regarding mobile creativity, including “mobile creative,” “creative development for mobile,” “mobile creative development,” and “mobile technical specs.” Not once did a Wikipedia entry pop on the first page of results, which is telling when you consider that there’s a Wiki entry for almost everything these days. It’s also telling when things like taxi tops and mobile billboard truck listings were returned instead. If we as an industry don’t start collaborating, sharing, and teaching, we won’t ever generate the revenue estimates that have been forecast.