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Mobile: Monetize or be cannibalized

James Orsini is president/CEO of Single Touch Systems

By James Orsini

For years, marketers have often chased the silver bullet to penetrate awareness. Today, mobile is no different where most CMOs have gravitated to a check–the-box solution by quickly adopting an application-only mobile strategy or a QR code mobile deployment solution as a means to reach their consumers on connected devices.

While trendy and functional, both in a vacuum tend to fall short of the massive audience reach and penetration marketers require from not only attaining their marketing goals, but distinguishing their message from competing noise.

With more than 330 million devices why would we celebrate 8,000 QR codes scanned or 40,000 apps downloaded?

With more mobile devices than people in the United States, 8 trillion text messages sent in 2011 and countless hours spent on voice calls why have marketers not gravitated to mobile channels to monetize their products and brands?

Why are they still nascent in their approach to reaching the masses and limited in their willingness to invest and support this explosive growth channel?

Consumer consumption
Having worked closely with procurement departments in the past, my personal fear, illustrated on the chart below, is that the current disproportionate spend in media dollars when compared to consumer consumption in the print world will merely be baptized as overall marketing savings and brought back to corporate bottom lines.

This print media spend, if not repurposed, runs the risk of never finding its way to proper deployment in the mobile marketing space.

Marketers who are targeting doubling their mobile spend next year are years behind. Last I checked 2X nothing is still nothing.

I am unsure why we would allow history to repeat itself without learning from it.

I am watching marketers make the same mistakes originally made more than a decade ago with the birth of the Internet.

I recall using improper formats to push the data to the masses before adopting the formats appropriate for consuming data on the Internet.

I would hear things such as ”Quick, I need to be on the Internet. Here’s my print brochure, get it on line” or ”Here’s my last 15 second TV commercial, put it up, I need to be on line.”

Major advancements
Eventually, proper formatting later found its way to the Internet but it did not happen overnight.

Concepts such as click-through banner ads and search optimization ensued as better formatting for the way users consume data on the Internet.

No one can argue that the way consumers most often engage with their mobile device is still voice calls and SMS.

Marketers need to amass and monetize the mobile medium in short order or run the risk of having it cannibalize the channels they currently use to market their products and services.

By 2016, I believe there will only be five viable media choices – text,, image, audio, video and social.

The mobile device will be the only destination where all five media choices can live.

As such, it has and will continue to cannibalize the others.

Marketers need to break from the world of pennies and half pennies and help aggregate and properly monetize this vital communication channel for what it is. Leveraging it for the reach as opposed to celebrating the check–the-boxmentality of simply dabbling in the space with technology that works.

Without marketers’ support and redeployment of the advertising and marketing spend, mobile runs the risk of becoming like air – everyone uses it, they cannot see it, they know they need it and it is free.

James Orsini is president/CEO of Single Touch Systems Inc, Jersey City, NJ