Agencies lag behind advertisers in understanding of mobile

Big agencies are lagging behind advertisers in their understanding and engagement with mobile, according to Sean Gregory, MD of mobile operator sales division O2 Media, and Daniel Rosen, mobile director of creative digital agency AKQA.

Speaking at the IAB Engage conference, the pair reacted to audience questions by stating that the use of mobile was driven by advertiser curiosity and that agencies need to keep up with the interest of their clients.

“Mobile is being driven by brands finding out about the possibilities of what they can achieve,” says Rosen.

He continued that some of the major agency players are finding it hard to monetise their interests in mobile, causing them to not address it as a serious channel.

“Most of the big agencies haven’t found out how to make money out of mobile”, says Rosen, stating that this causes them to give mobile a low priority on schedules for advertisers.

Gregory supported this theory, saying, “Agencies are playing catch-up [on mobile] compared to the brands they serve.”

Rosen was quick to dampen agencies’ enthusiasm for the iPhone, stating it wasn’t as ubiquitous as many believe. He pointed out that penetration in the UK currently stands at just 2% but the handset received a disproportunate amount of attention because “every creative director in London has one”.

He warned advertisers against seeing an iPhone app as a one-stop shop to reaching a significant mobile audience.

“A brief can come in from a client asking us to build them an iPhone app and that’s great, but it may not be the best way to go,” he says, urging advertisers to be more educated about the reach of their mobile campaigns and not just blinded by the latest technology.

The iPhone was initially only available in the UK to O2 subscribers, but became available on Orange yesterday and will be available on Vodafone in early 2010.

This story first appeared on

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