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A concordance of today's Digiday Mobile conference would show the most often used phrase as "not fully baked." But despite the business models and infrastructure issues that still need time to mature, mobile marketing is progressing toward a brand-driven future.
With a new major Dockers iPhone campaign breaking tomorrow, the conference provided some insight as to the profile of brands that are consistently engaged in mobile campaigns of some kind. Whether it's SMS text, WAP sites, banners, or proprietary apps, the brands involved are impressive. Adidas, Nike, Coke, Paramount, P&G, and most every other major brand were either involved in or planning a mobile campaign, according to the agencies assembled. Razorfish's emerging media VP Terri Walter told the conference that it handles more than 200 mobile clients and AdMob handles 200 a month.
AdMob sales VP Tony Nethercutt went as far as to show the conference preliminary results from a one-day test for three major brands. It put up a campaign for Honey Bunches of Oats cereal, Tylenol, and Splenda artificial sweetner. It spent the equivalent of $1,500 on the campaign adapting creative from each brand and agency. Honey Bunches of Oats attracted 4,600 mobile site visits and 600,000 total impressions. Tylenol, using WAP banners, attracted 630,000 impressions and 50,000 clicks. Splenda did not report results.
But while the brand involvement stories were impressive, "not fully baked" continued to rise up. Many speakers at the gathering were torn between developing WAP based ads and iPhone applications. Measurement and strategy also lacked definition.
"We're starting out with measurement," said Tina Whitfield, CEO EquisGlobal "and we're not thinking through strategy. What happened to the preliminary planning? What happened to strategy. I think we know enough about the psychology of mobile users to know we need a strategy first and technology second."
Business model definitions also took a bit of a beatdown. "We're still at the point of figuring out what revenue models work," said ComScore VP Evan Neufeld. "We're close to being in position to look at models beyond carriers making money."
But even The New York Times, which could use a solid business model somewhere, was in flux on mobile. "We're seeing some monetization around display and SMS sponsorship opportunities," said mobile director Rob Samuels. "But its not fully baked. We've seen tremendous growth and success but I think we're going to see another year of growth and experiment around ad units."