Will This Be The Year Of the Mobile?

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

“For five years, people have been saying that it was going to be the year of the mobile, but that has been coming slower that expected,” says Warren Raisch, chief customer officer of Digitaria, San Diego, California.

“But if 2009 isn’t it, at least it’s coming closer – due to a combination of G3, GPS, iPhone apps, streaming and, above all, the lowering of prices. When the iPhone came out, it cost about US$600. Now you can get one for a little less than US$200. Price really makes a big difference.

“And the graphic capabilities of the iPhone have really made the mobile sector a rich experience and much more interesting.”

We interviewed Raisch prior to his coming to Canada to speak at the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, taking place March 29 through April 1/09 in Toronto. He will take part on panels on Using Video for Lead Generation, Influence and Conversion and on Mobile Marketing Metrics, and expects to speak mainly on cross-channel metrics.

While Digitaria is an advertising agency, it goes much deeper that the norm, also offering such services as strong technology capabilities in the interactive business, optimization and analytics, hosting, and digital management. Its clients range across the board, with particular strength in media – including CBS, Fox, Bravo, NBC Universal, Warner Bros., and more – and sports, such as Daytona International Speedway, the NFL, and numerous professional sports teams.

“Companies are now investing in their Web sites, making them WAP enabled so content can be seen on mobile,” says Raisch. “And people are accepting what can be done on mobile much quicker than they accepted what could be done on the Internet. They’re over the emotional hurdle and aren’t inhibited.

“There is a generational gap, but the younger generation are right there. We did a non-profit mobile campaign, reaching 250,000 kids, to raise money for schooling for children in Africa. About 80,000 of them came out to 180 parks across the U.S. and we raised $1.6 million in the first 100 days.”

The advantage of mobile, says Raisch, is its measurability of both advertising and resultant activity.

“We can see how long people watch, what they are watching, whether they go to the Web site of the advertiser. And we’re beginning to see a payoff. For example, Papa John’s Pizza created a mobile ordering application and within the first year was able to track that $1 million in business came directly from mobile.”

Raisch says that creativity in a mobile message is much less important than utility.

“If you can get the game scores, the creativity isn’t that important,” he says. “What is important is how much time the users are spending on the brand – and the resulting action that can result in revenue for the advertiser.”

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