October 11, 2009...9:41 pm

Ten Reasons Why Mobile Advertising Has Not Reached Its Potential

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Reason #2    Ride the Horse in the Direction it is Going

Some time ago, I was frustrated by my inability to solve a particularly vexing problem.  I continually felt as if I was trying to force a ‘square peg’ solution into the ‘round hole’ problem.  I consulted with a trusted advisor who gave me this advice “Try to ride the horse in the direction it is going”.  Or, in other words, don’t force things.  More specifically, do not try to impose even a great solution into an environment in which any solution, not specifically designed for that environment, is bound to fail.

I believe the same advice is appropriate for mobile.  Consumers have already begun to determine behavioral and usage patterns for their mobile phones based upon the native characteristics specific to mobile phones.  When marketers and advertisers import other media solutions not designed for the mobile environment, into the mobile environment, it is the same as trying to get a horse determined to get back to the barn, to turn around.  It is frustrating for the mobile phone consumer and it just doesn’t produce the best possible results.

This Mobile Mandala will examine two marketing approaches (among others) for the mobile phone which are consistent with consumer behavioral usage patterns of mobile phones today.  Mobile marketers should consider these uses as part of an overall cross-media marketing campaign.

The mobile phone has become a medium of immediacy. 

While SMS outbound messaging is effective for lead generation under certain circumstances, the mobile phone excels as a response vehicle in nearly all circumstances.  It is always with you, wherever you go.  It is ready and waiting for you to respond to any stimulus.  Consumers are completely conditioned to respond immediately to most sounds, messages and stimuli emanating out of their mobile phone or to use their phone to respond immediately to other stimuli received through other media.  No wonder a recent study said that the average time it takes to report a lost wallet is 2-4 hours and the average time it takes to report a lost mobile phone is 20 minutes!

But this doesn’t mean that the lead generation needs to come through the phone.  Other media are better for the broadcast nature of lead generation.  But no other medium is better for the immediate and compulsive nature of response generation than the mobile phone. Marketers who give consumers an opportunity to use their phones for responses are maximizing the consumer’s behavioral attributes of the mobile phone to their advantage.

The mobile phone has become a medium of relationships. 

Over the years, consumers have been behaviorally conditioned to use the phone as an interactive communication medium.  First through landlines, then through mobile phone voice, and later through mobile phone text and IM, consumers have been communicating with others through the back and forth exchange of thoughts, ideas and banter that characterize human interaction.  This interaction very often is key to the development and furtherance of longer term relationships.

Brands and marketers who utilize relationships as a vital component of customer retention and a driver of long term revenue would be wise to consider focusing on the mobile phone and the development and use of opted-in mobile lists.  By giving consumers an opportunity to use their phones for continuity campaigns and longer term relationship development, marketers are maximizing the mobile phone’s behavioral advantage to their benefit.

The immediacy of consumer response and increased levels of consumer relationship development are only two aspects of a multi-pronged consumer campaign.  TV, Radio, billboard and the internet are very effective at some aspects of securing consumer awareness, trial and use.  Mobile is very effective at others.  The best marketers and advertisers have the wisdom to know the differences, and the expertise to choose the best reasons for affixing their saddle upon the mobile horse.


  • You don’t need ten reasons – this is the reason. Text messaging must be used for two-way, ongoing communications – not one way alerts or keyword auto-responders. Imagine if voice communications were limited to pre-recorded messages and auto-dialers – voice would have failed to gain traction as well. My company has the only SMS platform that enables two-way, ongoing communications between businesses and their opted-in subscribers without the use of keywords or the need for a dedicated short code for each business. Find out more at http://www.crmtext.com

  • Mark: You’ve hit the nail right on the head! I’m tired of hearing about fancy applications that have very little applicability to 90% of the phones out there, or their users. The KISS (keep it simple stupid) principle applies.

  • Guys I like you style but as person of color. We have not even touch the apex of revenue out here.
    Where we debate tech information I love it but I see over 20 million of my tv viewers are barley into the basic of the moble phone and computer.
    So as fare as my company is concern we are are taking the tech information and appliying it to our portal of distribution so that they can catch up to the rest of us. For me that a revenue stream thats not even counted on Wall Street to Billboard records

  • Old news, but nice that it is beginning to be common knowledge.

    Has been fighting against stupidity in the mobile advertisement business for 5 years now. Listening to people saying stuff like:

    Oh-yeah, location based sevices sounds great, lets get some of that. And lets also add som augmented reality and bluetooth to that, I have heard that its the new shit.
    -then tomorrow we make an ARG, because, well, its like involving and stuff….

  • [...] Ecosystem – The mobile phone has developed, and is continually developing, behavioral mores and cultural norms that have very serious implications for marketers.  Violate one of those norms, and the [...]

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