Mobile media has begun to appear within the broader media strategies of established content providers. While this work has been innovative, it was clear from expert discussion at today's Mobile Marketing Forum that years of investment lie ahead before mobile media's promise can be delivered upon. Here's a quick look at how name brands are investing to develop mobile as a content platform:
- Lisa Hsia from Bravo walked through a complete suite of new media offerings that are being integrated into Bravo's content - text-to-TV, interactive TV screen tickers, live voting, SMS/MMS campaigns, mobile games, wireless Web, carrier deck content, and reverse auction text campaigns.
- Fox Mobile Entertainment has implemented the mobisodes concept originally launched by News Corp. in 2005. Mitch Feinman tells us that 10 series have been launched to date; each original, made-for-mobile series is a derivative based upon a popular Fox television series such as 24, Prison Break, or Bones. Feinman touts that these are the first-ever ad-supported mobile video series. Prison Break: Proof of Innocence, for example, is sponsored by Toyota Yaris.
- Stephen Tippie of Tribune Media Services made it a point to emphasize that he's 'not the newspaper' - while much TMS content does come from Tribune newspapers, content is also sourced from third parties and users. And just half of the company's 6,000 customers are newspapers; the other half are cable companies and mobile content providers.
This content isn't expected to be profitable today. Rather, these mobile productions and marketing tools tend to drive audiences to the cash machine that's the television. As mobile audiences develop, however, all of these content producers expect their heavy investments now to pay off.
Why invest in mobile media now?
- Reach. Feinman believes that mobile is becoming the primary way to reach youth demographics. Tippie also quipped that 'people have become walking TiVos - we're becoming better and better at blocking marketing messages out. And your cell phone is the one thing that you always have with you.'
- Reputation. Session moderator Courtney Jane Acuff of denuo bubbled up some serious variation on how these brands measure success. Fox is looking to be an innovator - the network wants to be seen as the creative force driving the industry to new levels of innovation.
- Community development. Bravo uses mobile to drive its existing, strong user commuities. Fox looks to increase audiences for is established properties.
What advertisers want from the new new media
Eric Bader of MediaVest wants mobile because of its opportunity for good data. He loves all of these innovative ideas, but what he really wants the data that emerges from mobile content production and audience engagement. Mobile applications, cross-media experiences, and content could not only bring more people to the medium, but also produce highly usable data.
Bader also notes that most mobile audiences are not yet large enough to attract brand sponsorship. Advertisers are experimenting with mobile today, rather than making calculated moves to capture eyeballs. And since the mobile medium has an opportunity to be much more intrusive than does TV or print, advertisers are being cautious around the customer's reception to advertising as they begin to apply leverage.
Advertisers would like to see more interactivity, more response mechanisms, and content that will stand up to these applications. MediaVest carefully measures audience participation numbers, responses to offers, and promotional awareness - these are all factors that raise the value of mobile media in the agency's eyes.
What's next for content producers
- Assess audience interests. Bravo's programs don't drive their requirements for mobile - it's more about what audiences are interested in watching on - and how they want to engage within - the mobile platform. More specifically, Hsia didn't see the same drivers at Bravo for the type of investment that Fox is making in its mobisodes. (And Fox agrees: Feinman doesn't think that the investment in such dedicated content makes sense for all content brands.)
- Continue refining strategy to leverage content across available distribution channels. TMS is looking for creative ways to combine content and its varied distribution channels, including print. As Acuff pointed out, there are few standalone opportunities for mobile content; it is typically part of a more heavily funded, cross-channel promotion. At Bravo, Hsia needs to make an integrated campaign show increased value before attempting anything standalone. Fox would do both - programs that appear in different channels would get different treatment.
- Measure ROI relative to other offline marketing programs. Hsia doesn't think that there will be meaningful results on the success of mobile for at least two more years. It will take that much time for users (especially those over 34) to understand how to find an off-deck WAP site, or alternatively, for the technology to make navigation easier.
- Target interactivity. Bader sees opportunities on mobile for highly interactive brands. Certain low-engagement brands - e.g., paper towels - don't need to be interactive, and so those brands don't need to be on mobile. That's not to say that more personal consumer packaged goods (e.g., whitening tooth strips), or that high-participation brands such as travel, shouldn't be using the channel.
- Improve available performance metrics. Content producers are now providing simple audience size (essentially, the number of streams), but the carriers are working to develop other types of data. Until that data becomes available, content carriers are still making CPM-based sales; ad agencies have no way to tell who's watching the content, who's participating, and the like.
Tippie admits that the newspaper industry is typically slow off the mark in new media, and he expects the same in mobile; 'just getting notice by the newspapers of mobile as a promotional tool will be a win.' As for video, most of Bravo's success to date has been off-deck and based on the sponsorship model, which doesn't provide many statistics. On the other hand, Fox is exploring working both through carrier decks and off-deck, and Feinman still believes that it's far too early to measure what mobile content models will be more successful. Feinman's quick takeaway is worth remembering - the mobile medium 'will take time to develop, and will undoubtedly develop in ways that none of us can can't predict.'