Ross Sleight is Chief Strategy Officer at the full service mobile agency Somo. He will be joining the panel for the “Maximising Mobile Revenue” session
at the AOP Conference on 3 October.
Here he talks about the barriers to increased spend on mobile advertising.
The key problem is the disconnect between the ever-increasing amount of time consumers are spending on mobile and the small amount of money advertisers are spending there. For example, mobile represents 20% of all customer media time in the US, but only 4% of all advertising spend. We saw this problem in the early days of online advertising; we didn’t deal with it very well then and we’ve simply got to deal with it better this time around, not least because of the sheer velocity of adoption of these mobile platforms.
We’re seeing all the same mistakes all over again. Publishers, agencies and advertisers are all under-investing in the sector. And the people who are getting it right are absolutely dominating the market; by the time competitors realise, it’ll be almost impossible (or at best very expensive) to catch up.
Mobile isn’t just a performance medium any more; it’s proven to shift brand metrics, and if you can combine being able to respond directly to an ad with the ability to shift brand and customer intent, particularly purchase intent, then you should start selling this intent at a premium.
At the same time mobile is becoming the direct response and augmentation channel for all traditional media, be that dual screening with TV, or augmenting and responding to press or outdoor ads. Thus mobile needs to be part of an integrated offering, but people aren’t selling it that way. In turn, that means agencies find it hard to buy as a silo, not least because the mobile media market is very fragmented and it’s difficult to track and to generate reach and frequency. So there’s another disconnect. Publishers, agencies - we’re all siloed and we often revert to historical form because the problems we see in the market constrict the opportunity to integrate. Often we’re all only looking after a small percentage of the overall budget.
What about the suggestion that mobile advertising formats are limiting creativity?
People who say the formats are the problem are lazy. It’s not about the formats; it’s all about the audience and the proposition. The formats are all available, but the media agencies don’t own or generate the necessary creative to take advantage of these formats, and the publishers are often the ones who have to ideate the creative themselves to sell into the media agencies. Without the right proposition and creative you are working on the basis that where you say something is more important than what you say, and in communications, you can’t be as biased as that.
What can publishers do about this problem?
They need to build up a number of engaging creative concepts that they can go out and work with clients to implement . They need a creative arsenal, either developed in house, or in partnership with specialist creative or digital agencies that understand the opportunities presented by the media. Additionally they should look to forge closer relationships with clients, not by disintermediating the media agencies, but by working as a partner to reach and engage their client’s audiences. Statistics are not enough today; engagement comes through creativity and working long term to create relationships with the end customer.
They also need to stop selling mobile, or indeed any digital, as an add-on. Now it’s about selling packages across media that work to engage the end customer across multiple touchpoints, This requires cross-media attribution. There are very few publishers who can say how their customers are engaging across across their different media channels. If publishers cannot show the complete customer journey, then how can advertisers work out how to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time? Publishers need to think about how they integrate all their channels, just like retailers are having to.
Who do you think is getting it right in this space?
We’re working with the New York Times, and they are truly omnichannel across multiple platforms, in a completely agnostic way, but providing packages for readers across their channels (a login providing a useful tool for cross platform tracking). When they got hacked recently and their site was down, they just started publishing on Facebook and Twitter. Necessity here has driven a greater adoption and emphasis of digital platforms and this is a positive case study.