Monday, May 24, 2010

My response to MoBlog's "Forecasts Don't Reflect Full Scope Of Mobile Spending"

A few thoughts on Mark Walsh’s article on Mediapost’s MoBlog last week (5/20) concerning the growth forecasts of mobile ad spending.

The article cites a larger mobile marketplace (in dollar terms) than leading growth estimates imply along with a higher and longer-term growth potential for the channel as justifications for businesses to resist the prevailing urgency to jump into mobile marketing and advertising. Inevitable increases in mobile content inventory that will go hand in hand with a more mobile-centric future, he argues, make the imperative of claiming a share of the mobile market at this juncture a “tad alarmist”.

I agree with a part of this argument - that the mobile explosion or ‘critical mass’ analysts have been predicting for years has yet to (and may never) materialize; I have addressed this notion in some of my Mobile Marketer columns- but deny vehemently the conclusion Walsh reaches. Yes, the mobile revolution in terms of marketing and advertising is shaping up to be gradual, but that doesn’t make it any less powerful, or any less important for businesses to be involved with. Moreover, the inflation of ad spend figures when considering ‘earned media’ only indicates that mobile marketing and advertising may be more of a mature market than analysts have realized, which would make a case for the urgency to get involved, not against.

Mobile is not going anywhere, so I agree that the concept of ‘missing the boat’ doesn’t necessarily apply. But companies that don’t engage in mobile marketing and advertising at this point are ceding a significant early adopter advantage to their competitors. This isn’t strictly about staking a claim in the market (who wants to be the of the mobile space?), but more about engaging the mobile channel to become conversant in the marketing language of tomorrow.

Companies that utilize mobile marketing and advertising today are perceived as innovative and forward-thinking among their customers and competitors; companies that jump on the mobile bandwagon in five years will be behind the curve, and viewed as such.

Mobile growth projections are impressive for a reason: the channel is quickly becoming a dominant medium for marketing and advertising. Consumers are embracing the mobile web and direct mobile communications, and the mobile device is becoming indispensible. Businesses and marketers that ignore or dismiss this phenomenon- or play the waiting game with a rapidly expanding channel- do so at their own peril.

The mobile marketing and advertising revolution will be less like flipping a light switch (with late adopters shadows in a suddenly bright room), and more like building a bonfire. Those on the fringes will eventually see the light, but they won’t be nearly as hot as those who had been there from the first spark.

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