Mobile penny finally dropping for Australian marketers

Mobile penny finally dropping for Australian marketers
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Australian marketers are finally beginning to embrace mobile as a credible platform.

Mobile ad spend in 2013 is up 190% as more and more Australian brands and advertisers mobilise their content and add interactivity to traditional media. What’s more, mobile ad formats are moving beyond the banner to offer creative content and tools to communicate with audiences.

As the only medium offering always on, always in reach connectivity, mobile is touted to soon eclipse TV as the first screen. But while that’s a way off for now, how are Australian marketers embracing mobile now?

To begin with we’re seeing a shift away from big brand advertisers running ‘blind’ banner campaigns over a myriad of ad networks. With thousands of apps and m-sites, it was simply a numbers game before a big brand was caught in an environment with questionable content.

Would this happen in print? Would this happen on TV?

Targeted and contextual environments have always been the two essentials to create successful media placement for brands. This is where mobile’s early rush to put brand advertisers in a performance space, where clicks and price alone were  the only determinants, caused major concerns for brands.

I’m not being critical of performance networks as we operate in this space also, but our view has always been performance has a role for response driven advertisers, not big brands where image and association are critical to success.

To me marketers’ use of performance networks for their big brand campaigns was a simply case of not understanding there is another way. But now, as mobile comes of age in Australia, our brand managers increasingly want to know where each and every ad is being placed.

Long lists of mobile publishers no-one has ever heard of no longer cut it. Advertisers are increasingly questioning if they’re in safe environments. By ‘safe’ I mean their premium brand is positioned alongside content of genuine quality, targeted to appropriate audiences with contextual relevance.

It’s been a learning curve for many an advertiser, but it is good news for our industry that the fundamentals of traditional advertising are finally being applied to mobile.

As this shift slowly takes place to contextually relevant content, mobile marketing is truly coming into its own. Premium environments often have the added benefit enabling rich media ad units that use the theme of an app or m-site or offer unique content.

And creative, tailored content produces campaigns that perform better. Not just via more ‘clicks’ but through deeper brand engagement. Just like the basic mechanics of traditional advertising.

But there is still room to grow. The newness of mobile often means it’s an after-thought or the first to go when budgets are squeezed. I’ve also seen too many examples of mobile being planned and booked after everything else has been laid down.

But on the whole, that too is changing right now. Increasingly marketers and agencies are considering the role mobile can play alongside traditional media and are planning interactivity at the campaign outset. They are increasingly understanding the complementary role it can play – after all everyone owns a mobile and knows how to use it – plus they have it in their hand almost 24/7.

Mobile’s ability to bolt on and enable interactive audience engagement via an on pack QR code, an optimised for mobile re-directed URL or via an SMS mechanic is all very simple stuff. Easy to implement and add at low cost. It’s often also the fun component of a campaign for consumers while being directly measurable for marketers.

And more good news, mobile interactivity can be added to just about anything. By looking at mobile as part of the overall marketing mix not only does mobile become the glue that can bind the overall campaign together, it becomes the very heart of a campaign delivering impact, involvement and response in an instant.

The future for mobile in Australia is certainly bright. Not only are more and more brands embracing mobile, they are doing so in an increasingly creative and considered way. After all, mobile can be more than just a platform to drive downloads on a cheap cost per click basis.

Pete Birch is the Managing Director of 4th Screen Advertising at Mobile Embrace – Australia’s largest premium mobile advertising network.

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