Marketing’s Next Five Years: How to Get From Here to There


By 2017, 85% of the world will be covered by 3G mobile internet and half will have 4G coverage, according to Sony Ericsson. Three billion smartphone users will contribute to data traffic that’s 15 times heavier than today’s. For more and more consumers, the most important screen will be the tiny one in their pocket.

Personalized and data-soaked, context and location aware, the phone is the window into the consumer’s soul that marketers have been looking for. Whether brands are invited in depends on whether marketers understand what consumers want and need in a mobile environment. By any measure, they’re not moving fast enough.

To put it bluntly, there needs to be more ad spending on mobile, which now comprises only about 1% of budgets, according to a recent study from the consultancy Marketing Evolution. Based on ROI analyses of smartphone penetration, that figure will be about 7%. In five years’ time, that number will need to be in excess of 10%.

Rex Briggs, CEO of Marketing Evolution, said marketers shouldn’t be scared off by the current options for mobile advertisers, which many find to be creatively, um, challenged. “The formats are there but there is a lot of room for improvement,” he said. In his study, for instance, there weren’t even enough location-based campaigns to break into a separate category. That’s not good because, as Mr. Briggs said, “what makes mobile unique is that it’s mobile.”

Of course, advertising is just part of the question and possibly not the most important part. Using mobile devices and platforms to offer consumers real utility and convenience — and not just interrupt them — is where the battle will be won. Inspirations here are Nike, with its Nike+ and Fuelband platforms, Tesco’s virtual subway store in South Korea and Starbucks. The coffee chain has dabbled in every big mobile trend and bet heavily on innovations in payment systems, recently handing off its credit- and debit-card transaction processing to Square, a mobile startup in which it has taken an equity stake.

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