Is Mobile a More Important Ad Medium than TV? Facebook Thinks So

Is Mobile a More Important Ad Medium than TV? Facebook Thinks So

By Chantal Tode for Mobile Marketer

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, said this week that mobile is as important, if not more important, to marketers than television. While many in the advertising world would agree with Ms. Sandberg, others are not so sure mobile has reached its full potential yet or that it will ever replace TV entirely.

Speaking at an event in London this week, Ms. Sandberg said that the size of the mobile phone audience makes it a mass medium with significant importance for marketers. The statement was made at a time when Facebook is looking to significantly ramp up its mobile advertising business as its user based continues to migrate to smartphones.

“I wholeheartedly agree with Ms. Sandberg’s statement,” said Craig Elimeliah, vice president and director of technology and digital solutions at Rapp, New York.

“Mobile is context, it is the new fabric of our beings and how we navigate the world today,” he said. “TV has been struggling to keep its head above water and even the TV that is working is competing with so many other screens that anything done on that platform is diluted simply because of the distractions that are all around us.

“Mobile advertising is going to be an extremely hard nut to crack and we may need to rethink advertising completely but that is what makes it so exciting.”

The second screen

Smartphone penetration in the United States reached 57 percent earlier this year, according to comScore, meaning there are already a significant number of Americans marketers that can potentially reach consumers via mobile phones. Adoption levels have not stopped growing, either.

While mobile is often called the second screen, in reality users are carrying their mobile phones with them everywhere they go throughout the day, using them to consume snippets of content along the way. As a result, many users are spending more time with a mobile screen than they do on traditional media.

However, it is not just mobile’s always-on nature that is attractive to marketers. There is also the fact that consumers are increasingly using their mobile phones for shopping-related activities and to engage with social media outlets, opening up brand new, still-to-be-explored opportunities for leveraging mobile.

To date, marketers have been slow to respond to the significant growth in mobile, but this is starting to change. The Interactive Advertising Bureau reported yesterday that mobile accounted for nine percent of the overall ad spend on digital advertising last year and expects this number to continue to grow.

Some marketers have caught on to mobile’s potential and are already putting significant emphasis on it.

“The most interesting stuff happening right now is integrating gaming, television and mobile all together,” said Joakim Borgstrom, a director of innovation at Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco.

“’Walking Dead’ is doing a killer job of this,” he said. “The upcoming SYFY-channel show ‘Defiance’ also lets multiplayer gaming affect the show’s plot line.”

Leveraging social media 

Marketers also need to learn how to leverage existing social media platforms as well as newer ones to engage with mobile users as social becomes pervasive throughout the mobile experience.

Social media platforms such as Vine, Pinterest and Instagram have seen significant growth in consumer use and marketers are eyeing the opportunities to reach these users.

“I see non-linear platforms like Vine, Pinterest and Instagram as ideal platforms for mobile advertising in a very native and unobtrusive way,” Rapp’s Mr. Elimeliah said. “They embody the core elements of what makes mobile mobile and are uniquely designed to accommodate all kinds of communication from brand advertising to deep story telling.

“We are on the cusp of a completely redefined ad industry, going from three channels to literally hundreds of channels in no time at all shifting the tectonic plates that this industry has sat on for a century,” he said.

However, some would argue that mobile is still an immature advertising medium and will remain an ancillary tactic until many of these issue are addressed.

In the mean time, marketers should not view TV and mobile as in competition with one another.

“No, I don’t think mobile is more important than TV advertising and I don’t see TV advertising as more important than mobile, because I don’t see them as in ‘competition’ with each other but rather different, complementary tools that should be used to achieve different goals – and very often in conjunction with each other,” said Andy Wasef, head of innovation and technology at MEC.

“Our goal for mobile marketing and advertising should be to establish its best application for different goals for communicating with, and engaging, people,” he said. “Until we do that, we’ll remain an immature option for marketers and remain a sidekick to other options.

“Once we refine those mobile tools for brand marketers, including the right forms of mobile advertising, as well as robust audience measurement and ROI measurement, then it’ll rightly be viewed as a crucial part of our tool box – throughout an organization’s value chain and not just marketing.”

This is an excerpt. Click here to read the full article in Mobile Marketer.