Mobile Marketing Offers Pot of Gold for the Brave

The bad news for mobile marketing boosters in the United States is that major ad agencies are reluctant to give it a try. The good news is that opens up opportunities for the less fearful.

Those are two of the findings in a new “Mobile Marketing and Advertising” report from ABI Research that shows an area with tons of potential for those willing and able to take the plunge.
“Mobile advertising and marketing is a risky — albeit enticing and potentially lucrative — business,” ABI Research Principal Analyst Judith Rosall told ClickZ.

The company has determined advertisers will spend about $3 billion on mobile advertising by the end of this year. Those expenditures could include ad-supported entertainment content such as videos, music and games, as well as search ads, said Rosall.

By 2011, ABI said, the market’s value will reach $19 billion, including mobile search and video advertising. It predicted marketing spending related to video would surpass SMS by then, and that spending on “broadcast mobile video” ads alone will hit $9 billion.

Rosall said SMS is not going away. “However, with the eventual build-out of broadcast mobile networks, along with higher penetration and usage of multi-media mobile phones, we anticipate the distribution and consumption of a much wider variety of broadcast (multi-media) video content to occur,” she explained.

When it comes to offering advertisers the opportunity to make their messages personal, mobile devices have the potential to blow personal computers out of the water. However, much of the consumer data needed to accomplish that level of personalization is kept under lock and key by wireless carriers.

Rosall stressed the mobile market is “not just a smaller version of the general media” market. “The highly personalized nature of mobile phones and their increasing multi-media capabilities make these ideal devices for reaching out to consumers to extend brand marketing and to advertise products and services,” she said. Obviously, she said, exploiting that opportunity could easily backfire on “companies who do not respect consumers’ interests and privacy or do not conform to generally accepted codes of conduct for mobile marketing and advertising.”

ABI said “early-adopting brands in the US are still in the process of testing the water. They don’t typically allocate a set percentage of their annual budgets to mobile.”

Additionally, major ad agencies are not only “relatively inexperienced” with mobile marketing but also “reluctant to utilize location-based services and technologies such as MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) and mobile search that are still in the early stages of deployment.”

Here, by the way, is where early adopters with more guts can score, according to ABI. It said the big guns’ “slow pace in exploiting opportunities in mobile marketing and advertising… has opened the door for a number of specialized agencies, aggregators, and other enablers.”

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