Sounding off about mobile

Why would a radio marketing company attend a conference on mobile media? Well, for one thing, radio is the original mobile medium. And nowadays, mobile, as much as any format, is the new face of audio consumption. All you had to see was the plethora of earphones among the foot traffic on route to this week’s Mobile Media Summit @Internet Week in New York to prove the point.

The Summit brought together a star-studded lineup of thought leaders from top brands, ad agencies and the mobile world to sort out the latest trends and strategies for mobile advertising success, everything from marketing to measurement to technology to consumer preferences.

Despite radio’s stake in the mobile world, we heard only one specific comment about it through the course of many Summit presentations. At least it came from an ROI expert.

“Don’t forget audio,” said Julian Zilberbrand, EVP Activation Standards, Insights and Technology for ZenithOptimedia, The ROI Agency. “Audio is still a relevant environment to reach the consumer.”

For an agency dedicated to measuring performance, improving the effectiveness of marketing spend, and assessing traditional ROI techniques, hearing that was worth the price of admission.

Zilberbrand added, “Don’t plan for the channel—plan for the eyeball. Engagement is not the only form of measurement—it’s about connectivity. If someone clicks on an ad, that doesn’t mean he’ll end up in the store.”

Albeit closer, perhaps. While radio wasn’t mentioned a second time, its impact was felt in a comment from Jonathan Adams, Chief Digital Officer of Maxus, who cited one of the strengths of mobile as “catching consumers closer to the point of purchase, not only close to the store but then within the store.” That proximity to retail has long been a standard-bearer to the power of radio.

One of the day’s memorable sound bites was delivered by Mark O’Brien, DDB Worldwide President and CEO of North America, in discussing the challenges of advertising to a younger generation of consumers. Right now, he said, we “force” them to listen and the result isn’t pretty: “Teenagers will tolerate an intrusion, but they won’t pay attention to it.” More than ever, he said, mobile users are more in control of their experience than any other group before them.

O’Brien added, “When it comes to mobile, measurement and transparency are the hot topics. Did my media run? Did it have an impact? How do I make the best decisions to spend my media dollars?”

“We must shift our focus to entertainment—our advertising has to make the consumer ‘want’ to engage.”

Kimberly Kadlec, President of Starcomm MediaVest Group, said, “Right now, all the data and ability to measure is overwhelming advertisers and agencies. We have to simplify it—we can get lost in it.”

With mobile phones, Kadlec said, “It’s such an intimate device. This puts the onus on content creators to add value rather than create a disruption.”

Scott Marsden, SVP Media at Digitas, echoed the themes of what consumers want and the need for good data. “Consumers want personalization. We have to think about the consumer experience and manage that experience, understand how and where they use their phones and customize for them.”

“But much of today’s data is inaccurate. Data is not yet perfect—we still can’t customize the exact message. We are still chasing where the consumer is going.”

Some discussion revolved around privacy and how willing consumers are to trade their personal data for content. “There’s a general comfort level with consumers—they are getting more comfortable with a two-way trust,” said Scott Spaulding, Head of Sales atQuantcast. “This allows advertisers to make more of these relationships.”

There’s no question that where consumers are going to is mobile, especially if you consider the observation of Dilini Fernando, Manager, Digital Marketing and Innovation, atMillerCoors: “It takes a Millennial an average of 26 hours to report a lost credit card. But when they lose their smartphones, there’s a different level of panic.”

Shenan Reed, MEC President of Digital, North America, cautioned attendees not to overthink the importance of the smartphone itself: “The future of mobile has less and less to do with my physical phone. It’s the ability to track consumers outside of any one device.”

Much of the talk concerned generating the right type of content to get through to consumers. “As a media agency, we need to own it and be in control of the creative messaging,” said Jeff Malmad, Managing Director and Head of Mobile for Mindshare.

There was a ton of more information, talking points, and charts and graphs to analyze every cell in the human makeup. Perhaps Natalie Monbiot, SVP, Managing Partner, Digital, forUM, summed it up best when she said consumers can only process and digest so much information. “We’ve run out of space for their attention,” she said. The new challenge, she said, to use an old adage, is to “deliver the right message for the moment.”

Jim Alkon

Marketing Director