Engagement Drives Mobile Ad Innovation

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

“Advertisers and agencies have to rethink the way that they reach consumers,” says Dave Courtney, CEO of San Francisco-based JiWire, the mobile audience media company that reaches over 20 million unique users per month across its Wi-Fi media channel.

“With people on the go more than ever before, brands must find a way to engage with them in new ways,” says Courtney. “They’re out of their homes and out of their offices 44% of the time, so brands wanting to target them can’t rely on the old distribution channels.”

JiWire has seen substantial growth in demand from advertisers looking for new ways to engage coveted audiences when they are on-the-go, leveraging innovations in location-based advertising, sponsored wireless connectivity, and new channels such as in-flight interactive advertising. Courtney discussed his company’s forward-looking perspective for the digital marketing industry.

“Today’s consumer lifestyles are undergoing revolutionary change and this on-the-go trend will continue,” he forecast. “This is having a transformative effect on the media and advertising market, as both traditional and digital media adapt to an increasingly mobile audience that consumes media on a progressively broad range of portable, personal devices such as laptops, smart phones, kindles, gaming devices, netbooks, and more.

“Brands will have to redefine their marketing strategies to follow their consumers when they are on-the-go. We see the convergence of mobile, digital online and out-of-home media as helping brands target and engage them. These are what consumers will consume.”

Media distribution channels have become less relevant to marketers than audience segmentation, he says. But out-of-home advertising is going through drastic changes by becoming more digital and much more interactive. Mobile device-based marketing campaigns have become far more like traditional online campaigns. Keeping digital, mobile, and digital-out-of-home channels separate for ad buying purposes will be more difficult and increasingly irrelevant.

“Agencies will seek to create more compelling campaigns for their clients that converge these opportunities, blurring the lines between these channels,” says Courtney. “They will need to stop being organized around distribution paths to being organized by audiences. However, it won’t be an easy transition as this direction runs counter to how companies are organized today. Agencies that can move quickly and flexibly in this regard will drive media innovation early in 2010.”

There is a growing proliferation of new devices that allow people to access what they want when they want – for example, the Droid is joining the iPhone, the Blackberry and the Pre in the smart phone segment – but as mobile marketing matures, it will become less about the device and more about the audience.

“Mobile advertising is following a development path similar to Internet advertising: in the early days of the Internet, marketers included haphazard online purchases in their marketing mix,” Courtney says. “While the medium wasn’t understood at the time, it had great potential and marketers made purchases with little direction. Now Internet ad buying is based on audience, much like traditional media purchase, and has become much more effective. In 2010, mobile advertising buys will start to look more like online buys.

“Mobile advertising will be far more about lifestyles and audiences, and less about specific devices or technology channels. For example, just as it became impossible to buy a laptop without Wi-Fi in the past 18 months, it will become impossible to buy an application-enabled smartphone without Wi-Fi in 2010. Mobile advertising’s market share will be small in 2010 relative to overall Internet spending, but will grow faster as the mobile audience grows and new approaches and formats mature to drive better engagement.”

Courtney says that location-based advertising will become more mainstream for brands in digital and mobile marketing but it will not be focused solely on ‘where’ with regards to a pinpoint on a map. Rather, location will be seen as another form of context. It will be a filter that will indicate a tremendous amount of information about an audience based on the type of place a person is in at that point in time. Location will become a form of interest and intent, equally as relevant, if not more, than content is today.

Knowing where ads are placed will become a core element of marketing programs that use numerous channels to reach an increasingly on-the-go audience, doing so in context. When a person shares that they are in a café in Boston, this reveals a great amount of rich data that can make advertising more relevant.

“And while click-through-rate performance will not go away, cost per engagement will emerge as an increasingly important metric for success,” Courtney says. “The ability to create and measure brand engagement has improved with technology, and will increasingly define the conversation around campaign design and objectives. The rising focus on social media and making an audience part of the brand conversation is part of this trend. Similarly, offering the consumer something of value in exchange for engaging with a brand will grow in importance.

“With a shift towards a more mobile, on-the-go audience, the emphasis on engagement will come from numerous directions. For example, out-of-home may become an attractive channel in this new environment, but the big focus will be on how to measure engagement when a click-through is not even an option as a metric.”

JiWire is the leading mobile audience media company, delivering advertising across premier locations and devices. JiWire’s breakthrough advertising medium enables marketers to reach an influential mobile demographic at the point-of-connection. JiWire’s portfolio of blue-chip advertisers, combined with its market-proven delivery platform and registry of hotspot locations, enables wireless broadband networks and device manufacturers to leverage advertising as a currency for wireless Internet access

One Response to “Engagement Drives Mobile Ad Innovation”

  1. Steve Gurley Says:

    I believe Dave Courtney’s last response was very telling: “With a shift towards a more mobile, on-the-go audience, the emphasis on engagement will come from numerous directions. For example, out-of-home may become an attractive channel in this new environment, but the big focus will be on how to measure engagement when a click-through is not even an option as a metric.”

    I may be wrong, but I think his comments were a nice way to say: “hey, out-of-home won’t have relevance until you find a better way to measure it.” What Dave may not be aware of is the trend towards converging out-of-home with mobile technologies in a way that will allow out-of-home to be engaging to the increasingly mobile society while also allowing viewership and interactions to be measured and reported.

    You can’t fault Dave for not being aware of it, many (perhaps even the majority) in the out-of-home industry aren’t aware of it either.

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