Mobile puts marketers’ heads in a spin

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Around 13m of us in the UK are now smartphone users but for yet another successive year, marketers are still ignoring mobile.

I was shocked enough when I saw the latest Mintel figures, stating mobile advertising spend across all UK brands in 2009 was at just £1.03m.

But in 2011, with smartphone penetration in the UK at 28%, the figure is still only likely to be at around £5m, according to mobile marketing and communications agency Mobext – this accounts for just 1% of total brand spend.

Every year we hear the same prophecy that “next year will be the year of the mobile”, but how many times do marketers have to listen to the repeat predictions before they take action?

The consumers are already in the mobile space searching for brands, but in some cases the brands are not yet there. Only one in five of the UK’s top retailers have a mobile-optimised version of their website, according to mobile and social agency One iota.

Such brands are missing out on opportunities to engage with customers in ways not possible through other media.

Mobile marketing has advanced beyond SMS offers to often unqualified databases of phone numbers.

Now consumers can be targeted by their exact location, their likes and dislikes, through their social circle, and more – the advertising experience can be completely tailored to the individual.

Anyone gasping for a coffee can be instantly informed of their nearest café within seconds as GPS technology determines exactly where on the high street the phone is located and can even provide reviews so the user can decide which outlet would suit their needs best.

Those businesses without a mobile element to their marketing strategy will soon be left behind as consumers increasingly use their phones to make instant decisions for them.

Mobile manager at the Internet Advertising Bureau Alex Kozloff tells me that click through rates and conversions on mobile are higher in general than online, she says “in some cases, mobile completely outperforms online”.

A brand without a mobile presence is as ludicrous as brand without a website.

But just as ludicrous is a brand that carbon-copy repeats its internet strategy when it decides to adopt mobile.

Too many companies are quick to convert their websites into mobile compatibility, without changing any of the content, or create a presence on Foursquare thinking that is a “job done”.

Mobile presents a richer media experience and a more interesting way of engaging with customers. Messaging, apps, click-to-call, banner ads, in-app ads and location-based advertising all need to be considered.

As Motorola’s VP of international marketing Andrew Morley and the CMO and MD of the Mobile Marketing Association Paul Berney both told me this week, it is imperative marketers are educated about mobile before it drops down the ’to-do’ list.

Marketers cannot afford to be apathetic, or afford to wait for competitors to jump in the deep end and try and fail with mobile first. Consumers are already waiting impatiently.

Some brands are bang on the money when it comes to mobile marketing, as Tesco has proved with the launch of its barcode-scanner app TV ad earlier this month.

But it is about time all marketers got smart about mobile. 2011 “is the year of the tablet” after all.

See the full feature that resulted from my conversation here

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