Defining Mobile Media is a risky business, as changes are taking place so quickly that any snapshot of the industry can look out of date in a flash. All we can do is look at how mobile media has developed, where we are now and the exciting possibilities that lie just around the corner.
In his book Cellphone, Paul Levinson suggests mobile media was invented the “first time someone thought to write on a tablet that could be lifted and hauled – rather than on a cave wall, a cliff face, a monument that usually was stuck in place, moreorless forever”. In the broadest sense then, newspapers could be defined as mobile media by virtue of the fact they are full of information in a portable format.
Since around the middle of the previous decade however, media has developed into hardware one possesses and carries that’s interactive, a device that is almost an extension of one’s self.
“Especially in the last year and even the last few months things have developed so fast,” says Nilanthi Sangarabalan, media executive for M&C Saatchi Mobile. “We’re definitely using mobile for a lot more than just calls and texts now.”
Tell us more…
“I think people are just using their phones a lot more compared to other media; personally I spend a lot more time with my phone than I do watching TV now, and I think that’s true of a lot of other people. Whether that’s using the internet, or using Apps…“
“You can pay for things on your phone now with a Barclaycard,” she adds. “When I’m without it I realise just how much I rely on it.”
A burgeoning industry not so long ago, mobile media has changed beyond all recognition in the past decade, and particularly with the dawn of fast, reliable mobile data. Nokia’s Symbian, Google’s Android, the first truly usable Windows Phone from Microsoft, and of course Apple’s game-changing iPhone each provided applications, or ‘Apps’, to make a mobile device that is so much more compelling than a run-of-the-mill phone.
M&C Saatchi Mobile was founded in 2006 just when things were getting interesting, and where advertisers were in the main restricted to SMS, the mobile marketing possibilities suddenly look limitless as consumers snap up smartphones in their millions. Rich media for instance, where enticing banners that offer a broad-range of interactive data skillfully crafted by talented creatives, is now commonplace but would have been but a distant dream a decade ago. The industry is still growing and the uptake of new smartphones are now outnumbering feature phones.
With billions of people soon to carry smartphones on their person for up to 16 hours a day (not to mention the tablet boom – also considered mobile media), the potential opportunities for media marketing are mind-boggling. There’s never been a more opportune time to convey your message, and that is something that can only get easier as technology improves.
So one presumes, if a phone is becoming a ‘one-stop shop’ where everything is contained, (provided you don’t lose it) there’s the opportunity to add an Oyster card, the keys to your home, access to work…
“Absolutely,” concurs Nilanthi. “I’m sure they could incorporate that for your convenience. As long as phones don’t get bigger again. I think there’s a balance between what you put in it and how much it weighs and what it looks like. Smartphones have great capabilities, but I think smartphones are becoming smarter.”
Media Director Q&A
A 60-second interview with Chris Steedman, media director at M&C Saatchi Mobile, with a brief overview of how media marketing works.
What makes M&C Saatchi Mobile different from other agencies?
“M&C Saatchi Mobile is different because it focuses on direct response, where a user performs an action after clicking through on a banner. So we know how to engage users to do that. People see ads but that might be the end of the relationship. We find the best ways to get somebody to actually perform that action and click on the banners we create is by the messages we convey in the ad and how we place those ads. We are specialists in that. We deal with the whole campaign of course, but we very much focus on that aspect, and that’s what makes M&C Saatchi Mobile so effective. Our client spends a pound with us; they want to get back way more than that.”
Mobile marketing is a very new sector, so how can you have garnered so much information in such a short space of time?
“M&C Saatchi Mobile has been there from the very start. We were there before mobile marketing had really begun and there was only SMS. We’ve got experience, we’ve seen the industry grow; we’ve got people here who know online advertising, we’ve got expertise that dates back to the 90s, so that’s very important. You need to be a mobile specialist to do mobile marketing.
“The disciplines of online and mobile are quite similar in some respects – how you buy and how you place – but user behavior is very different and if you don’t understand user behavior then you’re up a proverbial creek without a paddle. For instance, if you are online you can encourage a user to sign up to a service, whereas we know you can’t do that with mobile, given restrictions of the media, like size and time. You’ve only got a short amount of time to gain a user’s attention. We understand that.”
So how do you grab someone’s attention?
“Our creatives are fantastic, and we have a global understanding of how we do mobile advertising. We understand that each market is different. In the UK the biggest selling phone is probably the iPhone, in another market it can be completely different. So we build applications knowing what works in each market. Or say if we’re targeting for iPads or certain handsets then they might not work in other markets.
“Then there are other details to consider. People on overground trains in the UK, commuters will generally spend time with their heads down, they’re not conversing on the phone or with each other. So there’s a lot of mobile phone usage and a lot of opportunity to engage with people, but you go to other parts of Europe, a train in Italy say, and lots of people will be on the phone or talking. So there’s less opportunity to engage people in Italy at that moment than there is here.”
How would that work in, say, Japan?
“In Japan many people work in major cities like Tokyo or Osaka, but fewer people live there. So they travel many miles out of town – and they’ll have their mobile devices with them right through those long journeys, which creates its own opportunities. So it’s understanding your markets.”
So give us an example where you’d try to entice a customer to subscribe to something…
“Say we’ve got a client who sells an authoritative weekly politics and business magazine. It’s a subscription type service, it’s quite highbrow and through online advertising you make sure this placement reflects what your user base is. Because what we want to do is ensure people perform an action after they click on a banner. So if someone sees one of these ads, they click on it and then they sign up to the service, and that could be a service on a mobile or an iPhone. In order to do that we put that on a site or an application where we feel that audience is. So the demographic of the reader could be the Financial Times or in the US it’s the New York Times. It’s about giving them the right moment, giving them the right placement… it could be based on what handset they have.
“An iPad isn’t cheap, so if you want to get a high-end user, someone who’s going to spend money, you’d think the iPad would be the best device to target because you need a bit of cash in order to buy an iPad. So there are a number of ways of targeting a demographic, whether it’s based on the actual placement, if it’s on the New York Times or the Guardian or the FT, or via an actual device.”