American Marketer


Three tenets: mobile moments, mobile-first ideas and mobile paid media

April 10, 2012


By Chia Chen

All too often, mobile is an afterthought in the marketing plans of brands.

There is a hum of anxiety over making sure that marketers are not missing out on the next big thing in mobile, whether that is payments, augmented reality, the next Pinterest/Instagram or another industry-altering device.

You see this in the growing the growing gap between brand marketing campaigns and the people they are trying to reach. One symptom of this gap is how much investment in mobile media lags people’s engagement with it.

Flurry of activity

According to Flurry, an application analytics firm, consumers spend 23 percent of their time on mobile devices, but brands spend just 1 percent their media budgets on mobile. It is an uncomfortable gap.

Consumer embrace of mobile has far outstripped brands’ ability to integrate mobile into their marketing plans. Some of this is a result of a focus on tactics.

We have reduced mobile marketing to a lengthy and growing checklist of tactics: a mobile-optimized Web site, mobile paid search, QR codes and, most definitely, apps. Mobile is still not fully integrated into strategies and approaches to most brands.

Instead of a new mobile-marketing mindset, we need to approach the thought of “digital” differently and embrace the notion that “digital is mobile.”

Let us attack campaigns with a mobile mind, instead of trying to just check-off mobile marketing from a checklist.

So, how do we move clients from 2011 fundamentals to the post-PC digital era?

We move them from tactics to a more holistic strategy. You can still check-off all tactics and still not reach your target.

Having a holistic strategy is the difference between putting food on a plate and a healthy diet. It is sustainable and creates lasting success. Our clients and we, as marketers, must embrace a post-PC digital strategy and not add on mobile-marketing tactics.

There are three tenets to a healthy digital diet in the post-PC era:

o You need to target moments, not segments

o Integrate moments into mobile-first ideas — it is not enough to just have a mobile Web site — make them mobile in nature, where they flow across screens.

o Incorporate mobile paid media — mobile ads need to mirror mobile experiences.

Mobile moments
Mobile allows us to address moments in consumers’ lives that we were never able to address before, because they are literally from when we wake up until we go to bed.

The most successful mobile tactics are usually the result of attaining insights into the "moments that matter."

We have learned that mobile audiences are living in two worlds at once: a physical world and a virtual world. People are doing this every day.

A mother is pushing a cart down the aisle at Target in one hand, while in the other hand she is holding a smartphone to comparison-shop on Amazon. It is booking a hotel room from your seat on an airplane. These are all moments that matter.

A PC was never meant to create moments and the post-PC world is forcing marketers to identify how a brand can fit into a person’s life.

Incorporate a process that targets the moments in consumers’ lives where the brand could have impact, and create experiences that deliver value for the users and brand in those moments.

There is a monumental creative opportunity to strategize with mobile-first ideas. Marketers need to wake up to the creative possibilities of mobile and develop a sense of “responsive Web design.”

“Future-proof” by placing mobile as the first and foremost connection device. This happens by designing for mobile as if the desktop is not an option.

Adjust a campaign to all mobile platforms: from smartphones to tablets and even to PC screens. It is about creating programs and campaigns where the primary way to connect is through the mobile device.

It is obvious when a campaign is repurposed for mobile — it is a bad re-sizing of a desktop creative campaign. It should be the other way around – design for mobile, then adapt, since, as I stated earlier, the desktop was never made for life moments. Think of it as placing an outdoor billboard on a mobile device — what is the logic there?

Mobile paid media

There are two big mobile paid media issues to resolve.

The first issue is the general inability to address the same person across multiple digital screens.

In other words, in the post-PC world where services exist to synch up my music collection across my smartphone, PC and tablet, advertisers cannot tell that I am the same person as I go across those digital screens.

We know that people use more than one device at once and go from device to device. But advertisers generally do not have a way to sequence messages across screens or track engagement at the “unique across digital channels” level.

Being able to target and deploy campaigns on unique users across screens at scale would go a long way to unlocking paid media investment.

The second issue is the lack of a mobile-specific creative format.

In other words, a way for brands to engage with people that is specific to the kind of content that people consume on mobile devices.

Let us take mobile games, for example. Games are the content that people engage with the most on their smartphones. For the first two months of 2012, 52 percent of all mobile sessions were spent in games, according to Flurry.

However, with a few notable exceptions such as the movie “Rio with Angry Birds” or the movie “Hop with Doodle Jump,” brands are simply doing sponsorships or standard mobile display media ads. None of this is really breakthrough.

If 30-second spots are miniature versions of TV programs, then what is the equivalent for mobile games?

Brands want to be more integrated into the gameplay, but the expense and effort make that prohibitive in all but a handful of cases.

We would love to see mobile content creators build better opportunities to integrate brands into the content in a way that is easier to operationalize. That, we believe, will go a long way to deliver bigger impact for brands.

So we think the opportunity to grow mobile paid media is going to be unlocked when it is a seamless part of the post-PC digital media ecosystem, offering brands the opportunity to deliver mobile-specific experiences. In other words, it is about connecting with people in the moments that matter and creating mobile-first ideas.

TO HARNESSS THE opportunity of the post-PC digital era, I believe marketers can evolve from the 2011 fundamentals learned last year.

Again, having a holistic strategy is the difference between putting food on a plate and a healthy diet. It is sustainable and creates lasting success.

It is about looking through the digital lens to propel mobile to its next phase using these three healthy diet tenets:

• Finding the moments that matter

• Think mobile first

• Integrate mobile paid media into the overall digital media plan

What is going to make these three tenets happen?

We need marketers to invest in mobile through a digital lens and think of it as digital, not separate.

We need to be able to show them this in concepts and how to execute a mobile strategy properly. Then budgets will open up.

Implement one of these in the next six months:

• Find one moment in a user’s life and create a brand mobile moment.

• Future-proof and become mobile-first — It is the idea of spending once. Tell your chief marketing officer that you want to save money and advance the brand — you will look good.

• Incorporate mobile paid media for mobile ads to better mirror mobile experiences.

Chia Chen is senior vice president and mobile practice lead at Digitas, Boston. Reach him at