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How smaller brands can get in on the mobile marketing game

By Carine Zeier

Mobile marketing is very much a “big brand, big bucks kind of game” at the moment.

Augmented reality applications and mobile ads where you can view the product in 360 degrees are being created and then launched widespread through media agencies and mobile ad networks that will not touch placements below $50,000 – at least.

However, the smartphone and the tablet are the most up-close devices we have ever witnessed.

Therefore, it seems we cannot get there fast enough to where we can leverage it for what mobile does best: being personal.

Consumers get offended if they receive generic, mass-oriented messages on the mobile phone. The creative agencies behind some of these complex campaigns seem to have lost this point in their approach to mobile.

An article titled “Are agencies being cut out of mobile marketing plans?” by Mobile Marketer last month brought up the question whether larger brands are starting to build in-house expertise in mobile marketing.

Brands are seeing that their agencies cannot deliver the mobile expertise they are after, and they want to move quicker onto mobile than their agencies can help them with.

This way, marketers also gain more control of the development of their brands on mobile, and can follow the development of the mobile medium more closely.

When the Internet took off in the mid-to late ‘90s, most agencies were slow to build the expertise needed to cater to a new digital era.

As a result, a lot of brands came late to the game and shifts were seen as to who maintained their market leader and challenger positions.

Brands want to ensure that this does not happen again, and are therefore starting to build this competence themselves.

At the same time, one of the main discussions this year at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity was whether creative teams should be grown from the traditional two-person team of a copywriter and an art director to also include a technical person.

Lack of technical knowledge in creative teams is believed to hinder the development of brand interactions that leverage digital channels fully.

A proof of this might be that the festival’s first Mobile Grand Prix Award did not go to an agency, but to a technology provider: Google.

Google, in fact, made the campaign called Project Re:Brief with agencies at mind. The idea was to show agencies how well-known historic ad campaigns could be reimagined using the technical possibilities of today.

Small is bountiful
Big brands building expertise in-house might not come as a surprise, but how can smaller brands embrace the mobile marketing opportunity? They can choose two paths:

Rely on outside forces: Wait for their creative agencies to deliver on mobile creativity and that the volume grows big enough so they can start affording and be able to target campaigns better.

Go DIY: Do-it-yourself tools can help smaller brands build their own mobile Web and campaign sites, conduct SMS marketing campaigns – remember to include mobile phone numbers in CRM – and traffic on networks allowing smaller ad placements such as AdWords Express or location-based ad networks.

I know what I would prefer. Good luck.

Carine Zeier is managing director at Boost Advertising/Madmaker, Oslo, Norway. Reach her at [email protected].