Think BR: Are you on your mobile?

James Connelly, managing director, Fetch Media
James Connelly, managing director, Fetch Media

The Cannes Lions 2012 are upon us but are advertisers still missing a trick when it comes to mobile, asks James Connelly, managing director, Fetch Media.

So, the week belongs to Cannes - a sun soaked, seven day celebration of creativity, advertising power and innovation. 

True pioneers of the industry and go-getting, imaginative newcomers will share insight, reveal new ways to exploit technology and debate customer engagement.

But are the brightest minds in advertising still missing a trick? It’s interesting to note that TV and print for example are so mainstream you rarely see them discussed separately. 

As an outsider, mobile is still discussed in isolation, and remarkably appears in the awards category for the very first time this year. 

Even on a thought-leading stage like Cannes, mobile is treated like a slightly frightening new toy that we don’t know how to play with. 

It’s still mostly separate from the marketing mix, a nice add on for some brands, but all too rarely embedded in, or even central to, the business of advertising.

Ten percent of consumers’ media attention is spent on mobile, but mobile marketing only gets 1% of advertising spend. Print on the other hand demands only 7%of consumers’ media attention, but attracts a disproportionate 25% of ad spend. 

Brands know that mobile is growing at a rate of knots, but many don’t understand how to embrace the opportunities mobile marketing presents.

Making sense of the mobile advertising world can be a complicated and confusing business. With different operating systems, handset manufacturers, ad networks and advertising options, it is a sector that is forever developing and changing. 

Research continues to show that brands are beginning to realise the potential of mobile marketing, but very often have not yet taken the plunge and translated ambition into actual expenditure.

With the dozens of abbreviations and acronyms, an evolving mobile advertising ecosystem and a concern over the accuracy of some tracking solutions, it is not a surprise that very often an ambition to be active on mobile can remain just that, an ambition.

Marketers are consumers too however, so there is more and more interest and curiosity about what mobile advertising can do for their brands. 

I think the problem is that mobile is growing so rapidly and consumers are becoming so sophisticated that brands haven’t yet developed the language, infrastructure or experience to understand and reflect its potential.

Perhaps the biggest reason for marketers’ sluggishness to embrace mobile is that there is still a general lack of understanding of the valuable returns it brings.  

For instance, tracking ability in mobile offers brands unique opportunities to acquire valuable information on consumers’ behaviour, attitudes and interests. Mobile can also deliver ROI in ways that other mediums cannot. However, it’s very difficult to be creative on a platform you don’t really understand or appreciate.

According to the Cannes website, "Inspiring creativity is at the heart of Cannes Lions. The festival is where creative professionals come to debate, learn and be inspired". This is a worthy ambition and good for brands and agencies whatever their sector or discipline.

I hope that next year, mobile advertising is as integral to the advertising market as print, TV and even online. Until it is, mobile marketing will remain on the fringes, the preserve of a few expert agencies, rather than at the heart of marketing communications, where in my view it should be.

James Connelly, managing director, Fetch Media

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