Mobile’s rise from dwarf star to supernova comes with a caveat

The ‘year of the mobile’ is gathering pace judging by the latest IAB/PwC data and the media frenzy of commentary surrounding Twitter’s IPO plans. First half year figures from IAB/PwC show mobile now accounts for 14.1 per cent of all digital advertising spend – nearly double the figure for the same period last year. The spend is driven by increasing smartphone penetration (68 per cent of the UK population and rising) and possibly the arrival of 4G.

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Add to this the mind-boggling sums being thrown around for Twitter’s stock market arrival – £8bn at last shout – and mobile marketing has a huge gravitational pull for marketers whether for display, search, email, social media or content marketing. But to make the most of the opportunities there needs to be a quick pause for reflection and a refocus on the customer experience.

How mobile users actually experience your brand on their devices should now come to front of mind rather than just dollar signs. In an ideal world every platform and mobile device would be optimised for fast download speeds and a quick and easy experience. If your potential customer can’t access the website fast enough or attempts freeze their screen then, more than moving on, they will actually have a negative perception of your brand.

Seamless access to your sites and messages will make you trusted and encourage customers to pay via mobile – something to which residual resistance is still attached.

And what about email? It’s about to have its glory day in the sun again as brands realise that more customers are opening their email messages on their phone and it can be a forceful call to action. But the email had better be formatted for the mobile platform – again customers will vote with their feet if the experience is not up to expectations.

Even the mighty Twitter, now under pressure to actually make a profit, is going to have to think very carefully how it will allow brands to advertise. Some have speculated that it might increase the 140 character limit so that a larger marketing message can be accommodated. That’s like saying the number of syllables in a haiku needs to be increased – don’t tamper with a successful form (and I’m sure Twitter won’t) but encourage creativity within the restrictions.

So, to sum up. Marketers are going to have to persuade their chief executives that more money needs to be invested in getting the customer experience right for all the myriad forms of mobile, and they are also going to have to develop a close and strong relationship with operations. If not, that gravitational pull from the mobile universe could turn into a black hole devouring all the money being allocated to ad spend with little return.

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