Mobile marketing panels offer differing views

In the emerging world of mobile marketing there are often divergent points of view between carriers and ad agencies over what values should be emphasized in targeting consumers. At two separate panels at the CTIA Wireless I.T. and Entertainment conference in San Francisco these differences came to the fore and the participants also expressed similar concerns over the value of being respectful of consumers.

In an afternoon panel focused on carrier concerns, with participants from Alltel, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless, the idea of working in market on demand was emphasized. Kristi Crum, the director of multimedia content for Alltel and Matt Hull, an executive director of AT&T mobility, said the reach for mobile markets in available even if it is in its infancy. 

Joseph Kearny, a senior account manager at Verizon Wireless, said mobile market targeting from a carrier perspective reached a tipping point and that ad-supported models were win-win propositions if the ads were unobtrusive yet valuable.

In that environment, Kevin McGinnis, a director at Sprint, excused himself for using a cliche and said a high tide rises all boats--that higher mobile data usage led to increased impressions on consumers. In terms of targeting consumers and balancing that with protecting their privacy, McGinnis stressed that carriers should not push the envelope too far and needed to educate consumers about how much of their private information was truly available.

Along those lines, at the panel focused on agencies' desires, Julie Preis, a general manager of Ansible Wireless, a  mobile marketing agency in a joint venture with mobile technology partner Velti, said treating consumers with respect was the key to success. 

The agencies' panel's moderator, Mark Lowenstein, the executive director of Mobile Ecosystems, echoed some of the themes from the carriers' panel: mobile data usage is taking off, smartphone growth has led to an increased potential market. The challenges, he said, were moving away from strictly SMS targeting into more MMS and video, which may not be viable as a business model now because a lack of devices to send ads to. Another main hurdle was developing metrics to measure the effectiveness of ads.

David Katz, the vice president of mobile advertising at Yahoo!, said the key to mobile markets was obvious: to deliver audiences, and, in turn, revenue. The problem, with this, Preis said, was developing a clear line between brands and consumers and delivering on the promise of mobile marketing as a persistent and personal form of advertising. She emphasized SMS messaging as the greatest reach potential method. 

Preis said the way forward was going to be defined by the ability to cut down the time it takes to transfer a web campaign to a mobile format, which she said takes far too long now. For Katz, the most difficult challenge was measuring effectiveness of campaigns.

All of the panelists acknowledged the value of respecting consumers on all levels though in a demand-driven market.

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