Most Companies Should Stop Spending Money on Mobile Advertising

Mobile advertising spending has been growing between 50 to 80 percent year over year and, according to eMarketer, it is set to reach 2.6 billion this year and 4.3 billion in 2013. This isn’t surprising when you think about the mind-boggling penetration numbers I wrote about in a previous column.

There are an estimated 1.186 billion global active broadband subscribers in 2011 (International Telecommunication Union, Nov. 2011) and according to IDC (Feb. 2012), 796 million smartphones have been shipped in just the last two years. Yes, that was 1.1 with a “b” and yet most companies’ mobile experiences are wretched. In fact, 79 percent of Fortune 500 companies do not yet have a mobile-optimized site.

We marketers should be ashamed of ourselves. It isn’t as though this trend has sneaked up on us. In fact, I think it has been the year of mobile for the last four years. Now, the economy has caused a lot of people to make hard decisions with limited marketing dollars, but as marketers we should strive to be ahead of the market and, unfortunately, in the case of mobile we are truly behind.

On average, 10 to 15 percent of all traffic comes from mobile devices and the majority of the experiences a consumer encounters are subpar. As a business, would you ever just ignore 10 to 15 percent of your customers? I’ve never heard anyone answer this question with a serious yes. So why is 79 percent of Fortune 500 companies doing this today?

What would my solution be? Put your mobile ad buys on hold until you get your owned properties in order. So what should “getting your house in order” entail? First, start with the data you have. Through web analytics you have a rich data set that shows what users are looking for when they come to your site from a mobile device. By digging into this data you can reinvent your properties based on consumer needs.

But don’t stop there. Your goal should be to create unique experiences. If it is a mobile application, ask yourself what is in it for the consumer to keep your application on their phone. Does it fill a need? Does it engage them in a unique way? Is it a space they would expect for you to fill? Test your concepts early. For one of our clients, we did creative concept testing early and were able to quickly eliminate potential paths that were not resonating with our target audiences. Finally, give the consumer the choice for how they want to interact with you. ESPN is a great example of a company that lets you decide if you want to see the mobile website, the mobile application, or the full web experience. This will increase not only the adoption rate, but also the use of the platforms.

Most importantly, get started today because the numbers are only going to get larger.

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