When Mobile Eats The Internet's Lunch

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As mobile becomes more important to the overall Marketing mix, will it wind up diverting funds away from the Web?

Marketing is changing. Fast. Faster than most expected and faster than most organizations can keep up. The adoption of mobile devices is not to be taken lightly. For the past few years, I’ve made the argument for one-line of connectivity (not having separate strategies for mobile, social media and the Internet) – one strategy that deals with the connected consumer. In the ReadWriteWeb news items, Smartphones Outsell PCs, from February 8th, 2011 it was reported: "According to IDC, smartphone manufacturers shipped 100.9 million devices in the fourth quarter of 2010, while PC manufacturers shipped 92.1 million units worldwide. Or, more simply put, smartphones just outsold PCs for the first time ever. The number of smartphones sold in Q4 2010 was up 87.2% from the 53.9 million sold in Q4 2009. For the year, vendors shipped 302.6 million smartphones – an increase of 74.4% from the 173.5 million in 2009."

These are the early indications of what will be the inevitable shift from fixed connectivity to a completely mobile experience.

While brands are tinkering with mobile and tablet marketing (much in the same way they tinkered with the Web in the early 2000’s), there is an opportunity (right now) to not get left behind and (for once) to get ahead, and take the lead prior to mass consumer adoption (which – in the case of mobile – is an inevitability). Too bad, we’re already making some initial mistakes. The famous saying, "robbing Peter to pay Paul," is exactly where us Marketers find ourselves.

Taking from the Web to give to mobile.

Yesterday, MediaPost, ran a Blog post titled, Most Mobile Budgets Coming From Online. I suspected this was happening, but was sad to see it all come to life: "Among companies with near-term mobile marketing plans, only 20% have created a separate budget line item for mobile. The majority (60%) carve mobile budgets from online ad spending, according to a new survey of 350 executives with responsibility for mobile at brands, agencies, publishers and technology vendors. So mobile still has to battle it out for its share of ad spending against more established online channels like search, display and video."

Big mistake.

Marketing dollars allocated to the Internet are still grossly under allocated when you compare it to consumer consumption of all media channels (percentage wise). There are countless reasons and arguments for this. The underlying sentiment for this seems to be based on complacency: nobody wants to rock the boat for fear that shifting marketing dollars to other/newer channels may not return the same results they’re currently getting (no matter how bad they may be). Now, with the rapid ascent of mobile, we’re busy splitting hairs on an already under-allocated media channel.

It’s up to us to correct this path. Now.


  1. FINALLY! Something I can be a semi expert on here! Took months!
    I have a collegiate marketing service I am trying to get off the ground. Its direct marketing/print/out of home. I would call on the Out of Home buyers. Then I added mobile! And then I get sent to the digital buyers and digital managers because I could be sending anything from a coupon to video to a micro site.
    So where does Mobile fit? If you are going to build a mobile micro site is that not digital? Does the screen size matter? What about Social Media? Shouldn’t that also be digital? Should there be a further fragmentation of divisions which already are so fragmented it drives me crazy.
    I get the line item thing. But I personally would want Mobile under the digital umbrella. And if I have finite resources use what is best for my business.
    And to stir the pot. Mobile if done correctly should have higher ROI than traditional digital. BUT the best starts outside the phone in immediate call to actions. To me AdMob falls under Digital. But an SMS/MMS or QR Code starting from a store sign is out of home.
    Our industry drives me nuts Mitch!

  2. I agree with this, Mitch. While being somewhat similar, the traditional Internet and mobile internet should be treated as two separate channels of marketing (Japan is a good example of things done right on the mobile front). Splitting hairs has never led to anything big. Thank you for another splendid post.

  3. Hi Mitch,
    wrt the broader issue of under-allocation of marketing dollars to internet, you defined the problem well and I agree the assessment that fear of wider variance of results loses to more predictable poor results as the issue.
    But I wonder why this continues to be unresolved? Should there not be enough research data by this point to overcome the fear. At least a multitude of wildly successful case studies to add emotion to the pitch?
    wrt to mobile I agree it has to be a separate channel of marketing and under a congruent strategy across it and the other channels.
    As Geno says Japan is a good example of this approach. One reason is the wide spread adoption creating user familiarity with GPS car and on foot navigation. A keen appreciation for being connected and benefits of information access resulted in rapid service innovations as mobile hardware became more powerful.
    So with personal understanding among even the least internet savvy executives, it was easier to get enthusiasm to invest in mobile strategy as a new marketing channel.
    Although I was not involved in marketing while living in Japan, the marketing sophistication driven by competitive environment was easily recognizable.
    Finally leveraging the ability to align interests and goals among all the different players (carriers, device makers, SW, search, social) needed to create a mobile strategy with predictable results is developing faster.
    In North America, Europe, and other parts of Asia the power equilibriums of different players that come together to deliver mobile and internet content is not as stable and well defined as in Japan. The balance varies in different regions, China has some better stability because some of the relationships there are planned and “directed”.
    So some of the elements are very different here and it is taking more time.

  4. Hi William,
    Here a couple examples I can think of that may answer your question.
    Channel management by co-marketing your brand at the local retail level. Ensuring presence at location based services like http://gatheringpoint.com is consistent with the brand strategy and improving visibility.
    While it is easy to find type of retail entities now, it is harder to find types of products or brands (unless it’s beer).
    If there are regional price sensitivities there may be opportunities for optimizations at the local level that mobile marketing can help communicate.

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