Our 2011 Local Mobile Advertising Conference in Chicago Oct. 2-4 was packed with statistics on mobile usage both by consumers and advertisers, as well as real-world examples from more than two dozen media companies in the newspaper, yellow pages, TV, radio and Internet pure-play space.
It was easy to be overwhelmed with ideas and opportunities. So Borrell Associates President Colby Atwood and I sat down at the end of the 2½-day meeting and summarized the most important observations in a session entitled “Five Things to Do Next.”
- Because the opportunities today seem to be yielding relatively small dollars, know the size of the market you’re chasing. It’s easy to put way too much effort into a market segment that might deliver far less revenue than the expenses required to cover it. Our research shows that the total local mobile advertising expenditure for 2011 will be in the neighborhood of $788 million, and the majority of local markets are seeing less than a half-million dollars each. That will grow 103% next year, but it’s always best to get realistic first about the underlying dollars that support your mobile efforts. Note: to see my opening statement with our 2012 local advertising forecast, which includes this data, click here.
- Take a very close look at mobile marketing’s geofencing capabilities. We believe that this may hold the biggest promise for local media companies. The presentation by Placecast CEO Alistair Goodman highlighted case studies showing businesses that sent text messages to people within the vicinity of their store, getting 73% of them to actually come in and 65% of them to purchase something. Even more interesting was the fact that 49% of those who responded to the opt-in text by coming into the store hadn’t planned on coming in. That’s extremely powerful, and hints of an entirely new method of “push” marketing based on consumers’ proximity to a store location.
- Participate in mobile ad networks like those offered by AT&T Interactive, xAd, Where.com, Verve and others. With mobile inventory growing exponentially, local sales forces may not be able to keep pace. So it makes perfect sense to link into the mobile networks, which are reporting significantly higher CPMs than traditional online ad networks.
- Invest in training, especially with sales forces. Our surveys indicate that 48% of smaller local advertisers surveyed intend on participating in mobile marketing this year. That’s very high. Sales reps should be tuned into this interest and adequately trained to answer their questions. In addition, the consultative sales approach — or “agency approach” — to selling is going to be vital. We heard four local advertisers tell us during the conference that the “best” sales rep they ever encountered was trustworthy, honest, and helpful. Not pushy, persistent and persuasive.
- Don’t forget that mobile devices are rapidly becoming video-centric. We heard stories about pre-roll inventory on TV websites being sold out, and being sold at CPMs north of $70. With the rapid transition of video viewing over to mobile devices, there is likely to be a great deal of opportunity for 10-second pre-roll and post-roll on video programming. The CPMs alone should be enough to commit a fair amount of resources to building out video programming.