American Marketer


How to help big brands navigate the new media frontier

November 3, 2014

Edie Kirkman is vice president of product at The List Edie Kirkman is vice president of product at The List


By Edie Kirkman

People, places and things: a smartphone puts all these in the palm of our hand.

Our phones have become the remote controls to our lives. They are always on, and they are always close by. For this reason, mobile is a marketer’s dream platform. Customers, after all, are constantly searching for helpful information, and mobile is usually the first place they look.

Often, that information comes from brands, but that does not mean that consumers want to be flooded with advertising that is not specific to their platform, experience or interests. That is why brands are turning to mobile ad vendors for smarter ways to reach the right people, at the right time, and in the right place.

Discover your niche
In the past, brands and agencies have shied away from mobile advertising. It was too new, too unexplored, or too confusing.

Even now, some brands simply do not know how to monetize these new media channels, but that is quickly changing.

Mobile is no longer a silo, and brands are taking a more integrated, omnichannel approach to marketing.

In fact, this year, eMarketer projected that the amount that brands spend on mobile advertising will surpass newspapers and radio for the first time. That means that mobile is not just handled by a specialized team, it is becoming part of every digital function for forward-thinking brands.

Major brands with mobile experience already know that it is a great way to build relationships based on interests, preferences, purchase patterns and geography.

For example, mobile in-application ads are growing at a rate of 60 percent per year and are projected to surpass desktop online display ads by 2017.

But according to Lisa West, a consultant and former mobile marketing evangelist with InterContinental Hotels Group, some brands have not quite figured out how to fully use this channel to their advantage. This presents a perfect opportunity for mobile ad vendors to offer a set of insights that do not exist anywhere else.

“Agencies rely on mobile ad networks to educate them on available technologies and keep them up-to-date on the latest and greatest,” Ms. West said. “With an always-changing and fluid environment, my personal SME status can be tarnished if I fall behind even one day.

“It’s up to my vendors – agencies and mobile ad suppliers – to keep me informed of current offerings and capabilities and be able to pivot to accommodate my organizational and campaign needs,” she said.

Mobile agencies and advertising vendors are uniquely poised to position themselves as experts and guide these brands throughout the new media landscape. It is time to begin offering mobile media as a top-notch way to build a detailed, personalized, one-on-one relationship with customers.

Lead the way forward
First, mobile ad vendors need to do a bit of research.

Because each brand is structured differently, understanding a company’s existing agency relationships is critical. For example, some have in-house agencies, while others go through traditional agencies of record or media agencies.

Why? Often, large brands do not want to manage multiple vendor relationships. Instead, they prefer to have their AOR, digital agency or media-buying agency find new vendors.

But if you can create a relationship with a brand’s agency, it can open the door to other big clients down the road.

Before your company contacts a brand or an agency, however, you will need to answer these six questions:

1. How is the brand positioning itself now? What are its online and mobile channels like compared to its competitors? Does the brand offer enough content to support multiple channels? Which social media channels is it currently using?

2. What demographic is the brand targeting? Is it searching for a multicultural audience or is it another niche demographic? Is it a mass-market product or something more exclusive and personalized?

3. Who is allocating and placing the media budget? Is it a buying and planning agency or someone else? Review the brand’s media spend allocation and try to shift it toward digital and mobile by turning offline campaigns into omnichannel experiences.

4. Who is creating the digital creative assets? Is this an in-house marketing department or a separate digital agency?

5. How is the brand currently using its mobile channels? Is it using them for awareness, loyalty, redemption or conversion? Match your pitch to the company’s objectives.

6. Is the company doing well? Is it on track to meet its revenue goals? If the company is lagging behind or pursuing an aggressive new growth strategy, then it is more likely to consider new agencies and media options.

YOU ALREADY already know that launching an orchestrated, cohesive program across a wealth of channels — both online and offline — will deliver bigger results, but the brand you are working with might not.

Be sure to offer your insights into how mobile consumers operate, and find measurable ways to show how key metrics are translating into new revenue for these brands.

Remember, you and your clients can collaborate to create a variety of experiences — from games to loyalty programs to video — to make their brand experiences worthwhile for their customers.

Show your clients how these will create lasting, meaningful relationships with customers in the mobile space. That way, they will create new opportunities for your company as you guide them into the future.

Edie Kirkman is vice president of product at The List. Reach her at