I was reading Mary Meeker’s latest treasure trove of stats and research last week and, as with previous years, there was a slide that appears in many analysts’ overview of media spend. It was a slide that compared the time people spend within a media channel to the amount of media budget allocated to that channel. As ever, mobile was under-indexing with 20% of time being spent ‘in’ mobile media compared to the channel gaining 4% of ad spend.
But is this a fair or even useful way of understanding the progress and potential of mobile as the marketer’s weapon of choice? I think it’s an out-dated measurement that fails to understand the use of mobile as a platform to enable deeper engagement with ALL media channels.
Those of us obsessed with Mad Men and the world of Sterling Cooper are regularly reminded of the days when media was static. There was no talk of integration, through-the line, omni-channel or second-screening. Due to the singular nature of our behaviour in such times it made perfect sense to split one’s media budget according to the time we spent indulging our selves in a singular channel. When we watched TV, we watched TV – we didn’t watch TV and comment on the show using our tablets or smartphones at the same time. When we stared up at a billboard, we looked at the billboard – we didn’t capture the billboards’ QR code and get linked through to a website, text into a shortcode and receive an automated callback or take a picture of the image and share it on Facebook, perhaps completely undermining the original intention of the ad.
Does that sound like behaviour of a singular nature to you? Does it sound like we are completely immersed in one media channel at any one time? It doesn’t sound like that to me. And if it doesn’t sound like that to you either then why are we judging the importance and progress of mobile in this way?
Of course the fact that the media industry has not yet found a satisfactory way to evaluate mobile is of no consequence to the wider world. We’ve been using our phones to send our most valued communications, capture the world around us, plot a route to our next destination, find out who is offering what in the near vicinity, shop, learn, and entertain ourselves for years now. We know exactly what we use our phone for and we use it to enable and empower ourselves. The media industry could be asking us to use it to make magazine ads and direct mail we read shoppable, radio & TV ads we watch and listen to interactive, billboards we see as a gateway to the web and yet perilously few brands and agencies seem to execute these options.
Why? Because, I believe, too many in our industry still segment their organisations and budgets according to a ‘per channel’ approach. That’s not the world consumers live in so why measure our own impact in that way? Some of the best use of ‘mobile’ occurs when this unique technology serves as a platform to better enable less dynamic channels to realise their own optimal impact. In doing so, our media serves the multi-dimensional, multi-faceted behaviour we know is taking place.
Let’s then stop thinking of ‘mobile’ as a channel, base our creative ideation and media plans in the realisation that ‘mobile’ is a platform, and start allocating budget and attributing success accordingly; for when it comes to attributing performance, what price engagement? How important is the channel compared to the click, the like, the response and the purchase that ultimately matter.
At IMImobile we’re always discussing this issue with our clients, partners and colleagues. We’d be delighted to discuss how your business could widen its own remit when it comes to its use of ‘mobile’, email me today at firstname.lastname@example.org.