At 2012’s SXSW, my first, I ran into some old colleagues from my time in the world of advertising. Naturally, after reminiscing, the conversation moved onto what everyone was working on. Mobile of course. I wanted to understand how agencies were making the transition from print, broadcasting, websites and banners to mobile and the intimate small screen which consumers carried with them everywhere. Sadly, two of my colleagues both carrying the hefty title of Chief Digital Officer did not have great things to report. It seems agencies are still trying to understand where mobile fits into the overall picture.
Most of my former agency colleagues readily admitted that despite huge adoption rates by consumers of all age groups and larger marketing budgets, that the big agencies were still being extremely cautious about mobile. From what I could understand only one word could explain the issue: FEAR. That’s right, the agencies are afraid of Mobile. Turns, out, they actually have good reason. Most agencies haven’t had much luck with successful mobile campaigns. Here’s why:
Agencies approach Mobile like everything else.
Mobile is different. It’s not as simple as build the app and they will come. Like every other campaign, a mobile campaign needs the support of a larger, fully-integrated campaign.
Agencies don’t have mobile SME’s
With all the focus on Flash banners and micro sites that are still the bread and butter of most agency work, and given how fast the Mobile world is moving, they haven’t had a chance to hire proper mobile subject matter experts to lead strategy for mobile campaigns. This problem hurts them in two ways:
- Internally, there’s noone guiding the ship.
- Externally, there’s no client support to drive it forward
Agencies are ignoring the subtle nuances of mobile
Mobile is different. Mobile is being used in ways that are new to agencies and marketers alike. Consumers and users are innovating in their use of mobile. Take for instance these statistics:
- While watching television users are now using their smartphones and tablets to enhance the experience.
- While shopping, consumers now use their mobile devices to comparison shop and find their way through large stores
This means that mobile users are unlike the PC users of old. They are, well —mobile. They are rarely in the same place twice when using their devices. Mobile devices are personal devices. Gone are the days when a user would go home and sit at the computer to check email. Nothing about Mobile subscribes to the old models of microsites, banners and Flash.
Mobile represents a huge paradigm shift to the existing agency structure and unless agencies adapt, they will be left behind. The time for simply considering Mobile as a part of any integrated, multichannel campaign is gone. Quite simply, mobile is a must. It must start with the strategy and continue through delivery.