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Unlike SXSW, the MMA Forum focused on business results


By Jeff Hasen

NEW YORK – I proposed a game at the start of this week’s Mobile Marketing Association Forum in New York where we would take a drink each time that we heard the word Meerkat.

My tweet stream the previous several days had been nothing short of overrun by Meerkats, which are live video streams sent from phones to all of one’s Twitter followers at once.

I figured that by noon on St. Patrick’s Day, Day 1 of the MMA event, we would all be as inebriated as some of those partying on Fifth Avenue.

I was wrong. There was nary a mention. And I believe that I now know why.

Cat’s meow
The introduction of something such as Meerkat is made for the SXSW crowd, which includes those who crave shiny objects, first looks at innovation and business models that could lead to great change.

That is actually in sharp contrast to what many came to hear at the MMA show – evidence of business results and proof that some of the products and services launched way before SXSW were moving boxes of tissues and bottles of ketchup while engaging mobile users in meaningful ways.

The most significant conversation in New York was around the latest SMoX (Smart Mobile Cross Marketing Effectiveness) research that was conducted by the MMA and some of its largest and most influential members.

Aiming to scientifically assess the interaction of mobile channels and platforms in relation to the broader marketing mix – television, radio, magazines and the Internet – the exercise was intended to help marketers understand the effect of consumers’ shifting media habits, as well as how to optimize their marketing mix by rebalancing investments.

Here is what we discovered:

In Coca-Cola’s Gold Peak Tea campaign, mobile drove 25 percent of top of mind awareness and 6 percent of sales despite gaining only 5 percent of budget.

Mobile in Walmart’s Back to School initiative produced a 14 percent change in shopping intent despite only 7 percent of the marketing spend.

In a travel card campaign, MasterCard saw mobile display and mobile video work twice as hard in terms of the number of people it converted on image per dollar spent.

The overall takeaway from the new U.S.-focused SMoX research was that the optimal spend for mobile is in the double digits – far more than is being allocated.

Adam Broitman, vice president of global digital marketing at MasterCard, called SMoX “a real breakthrough in the mobile marketing industry and the first thorough and comprehensive industry study that proves the true value of mobile.”

Tom Daly, Coca-Cola’s mobile lead, said, “It gives all the teams, particularly in the United States, something to think about.”

Will it pay?
Here is some of what else caught my eyes and ears in New York:

The hype would lead some to believe that paper and coin currency will be gone by the weekend given the advancements in Apple Pay and other mobile wallet products. But, according to MasterCard’s Michael Donnelly, 85 percent of the world’s transactions are still made in cash.

We knew that long-form content has an uphill battle on mobile. And that was before we heard this – the focused attention span for a consumer is eight seconds, down from 12 in 2000, according to Gfk.

For perspective, GfK told us, a goldfish has a nine-second attention span.

Brandon Rhoten, vice president of digital and social media at burger chain Wendy’s, gave marketers such as me who are a bit long in the tooth a pass on knowing everything about everything.

“There is no reason we should know how to use Tumblr,” he said. “It’s not where we grew up. So the biggest piece of advice I give is, be humble and back up and say ‘I don’t know what I’m doing.’ Go to your partners and talk to them. How can you fit the context of that platform at the same time you stand out?”

Mr. Rhoten’s take on Meerkat? Even if a “solution” is perceived by some as cool, if it has not scaled or shown that it can move cheeseburgers, it does not make it into a marketing plan dead-set on generating business success.

Jeff Hasen is founder/president of mobile consultancy Gotta Mobilize, Seattle. Reach him at [email protected]