Understanding Mobile Expertise Today

For marketers working with a fairly complex media mix and landscape, identifying “expertise” is important. But is it realistic to find relevant expertise within a single source? Looking at our segment of the landscape, as an example, what makes a mobile marketing expert? What might this person’s heritage be?

Let’s take a practical stab at the answer, before we break it down. The real expert in mobile is more likely defined by perspective or need at any given time, rather than by a single static discipline or authority. As your outlook on any particular discipline evolves, so will your needs and how you deem expertise. Kind of like the industry at large, right? The industry changes and we are wise to update our requirements.

Eager to Understand How New Expertise Enters the Picture

The reality is, the mobile landscape is so broad, loosely defined, and wildly dynamic in its youth, that today’s expert is tomorrow’s student. To find an expert, you are going to have to find a unique hybrid or collective of experts. True, if one simply looks at the landscape of mobile players, one might conclude the experts were born in desktop display. You’d think, “Ah, just an easy edition, snap on that mobile feature, and display expertise is mobile expertise.” This is a common shortcut in thinking about the industry, and one that doesn’t get you any closer to the expertise you need. Let’s take a straight look at how the industry segment of mobile has evolved.

Sorting Out the Claims

Of course desktop display brings a great deal of knowledge to the table; after all, both disciplines are digital, and both are channels that are by several definitions interactive. So, if we’re talking mobile advertising, for example, certainly in so much as the makeup of the creative unit (code based, as it is), it’s reasonable to conclude our pioneers in desktop display will have transferable knowledge to the mobile world. Our experts in designing, developing, and displaying digital and/or interactive ad units are easily found in the display world. And, likewise, some of the buying and selling processes could derive lessons from display. But this is about more than transference.

Where things change is in mobile message delivery, in mobile audience identification, and targeting. After all, as marketers, we are nothing without our infrastructure for execution and our targeting capabilities. So, the differences are critical.

The Matter of Delivery

Delivery in mobile communication has as many similarities to the telecommunications business as it does to the Internet. So, delivery experts in mobile are going to include those who have a background in mobile telecommunications. Additionally, the technology expertise to capture “mobile data,” quickly decipher it, and put it back into action is going to come from those who have the unique understanding of mobile communication systems, vast types of data, and the processing power to evaluate and concurrently leverage this information.

Audience Targeting

The desktop display audience folks are certainly ready to suggest their data management – their audience identification and targeting practices – can plug and play in the mobile world. Yes, there are insights to contribute to the body of knowledge, but the reality is, the key audience data points and collection techniques, as well as the behavior of the people (and more likely the groups of people) on the other side of the screen, are distinctly different on desktop display than in mobile.

The two biggest distinguishing factors are also the two main reasons display isn’t the natural source of expertise for mobile when it comes to audience identification and targeting. Why? Desktop display relies heavily on cookies, and there aren’t cookies (or at least not the equivalent) in mobile. Plus, the personal computer is so often used by multiple individuals. Think family computer. Mobile, on the other hand, is personal and even more granular than an individual. It offers, for the first time, the ability to maximize consumer wants and needs that change by time of day, day of week, location, and activity or “role,” at any given time.

Given these factors, the best audience targeting expertise is going to come from the database and direct marketing worlds. These disciplines have long been focused on the development of one-to-one marketing and personalized messages. Their limitation in realizing these goals has not been a lack of identification and targeting expertise, rather, the available channels until now have come with confines in delivering and acting upon what their knowledge and processing power allowed in terms of identifying, understanding, and predicting audience behavior.

As a natural evolution from those roots, mobile, as a channel, is the first truly personal channel and finally gives the database marketers the chance to put into action and measure, interactively, in real time, their long heritage in the marketing expertise on audience identification and targeting.

The execution experts will change as the landscape changes, and as dominant views emerge, but whatever the “play” ultimately looks like, I’m going to place my bet on those who have a combination of mobile systems and consumer data expertise. I think we’ll see the advantages first in mobile advertising and monetizing of consumer apps, but ultimately these solutions will be the predecessors to an entirely new consumer engagement, consumer relationship model. Mobile today represents the original potential of direct, data-driven marketing in a digital format. The whole desktop thing was really just an educational side trip.

Image on home page via Shutterstock.

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