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The mobile ad platform is fragmented, lacks customer data, and needs standards. That's some of the thinking produced by the blogosphere and recent conferences. Whether mobile marketing is really in such disarray is debatable. It has, after all, attracted most major brands and will rate its own category in the next round of IAB quarterly measurements. But for the "broken" side of the mobile debate, two developments may address some concerns.
Both are technology driven, which is important as mobile finds its legs with advertisers. The first announcement: AOL and Platform-A will make a "device-agnostic" rich media mobile ad format available through Third Screen Media, Platform-A's mobile ad-serving platform and network. That means rich media can run on iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Palm and Symbian handsets. It's a clear indication that AOL will make rich media ads a priority and make them easy to buy. One complaint from the "broken" side of the debate is that marketers have to choose one device over another for campaign creation and planning. If the AOL solution works, that argument is a long way toward over.
Tina Whitfield believes there is one secret to unlocking mobile marketing success. That secret is accessing the treasure trove of customer data stored by wireless carriers and handset manufacturers.
As CEO of Equis Global, and veteran of several digital marketing companies, Whitfield says she is trying help brands bridge the gap between what they think mobile customers will interact with and what data shows they will interact with.
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.
From an American and continental perspective it's easy to think that "we are the world" when it comes to mobile phone usage and marketing. Jeremy Wright, Nokia's global director of brand solutions, looked to reset that misconception during a presentation at Digiday's mobile event on Thursday. Seems there's more to mobile than Facebook, iFarts and text messages for emerging markets.
With more than four billion mobile phones on the market, Nokia has also positioned itself as a content provider and mobile network infrastructure owner. Wright sees different attitudes developing among the global perception of devices and advertising.