Marketing to a Mobile Audience – Kogod Now
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Kogod Now / Practitioner Perspective  / Marketing to a Mobile Audience

Marketing to a Mobile Audience

I still find myself amazed and intrigued by the pace of change that marketing has seen in the past decade, even though I’ve worked in the industry for more than 25 years, started an early digital marketing practice, and led one of the largest agencies in the world.

The rise of mobility has drastically changed our world, and it’s done so in ways that marketers are still adapting to. Though it has challenged many brands and agencies, it has also opened us up to new ways of thinking, new possibilities, and new relationships with the companies in our lives. Anyone who has ever held a smartphone can appreciate the power of the device, but it’s worth taking a moment to consider the fundamental behavior shifts that digital and mobile have brought about.

The massive growth of digital marketing spending (when compared to nondigital marketing spending) is one of main drivers of change in the marketing business. In the next five years, the percentage of all spending that focuses on digital is expected to increase from 37 percent to 45 percent. This trend will likely continue because the buying process is moving from physical retail to digital channels. The decline in physical purchasing is upon us, and it’s happening quickly.

If there is a single force motivating this digital commercial transition, it is the rise of mobility, especially among younger folks—not only in mobile advertising, but also in mobile Internet access, mobile applications for smartphones and tablets, and mobile commerce. There’s little left in our current culture that cannot be done on the go. As a result, mobile consumer spend finally overtook fixed broadband in 2013, and this pattern will continue to accelerate.


Online television, Internet TV, and music streaming services are the core entities at the forefront of
the mobility movement, and use of these services is expected to increase dramatically. Content streamers like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, and Pandora include viewer choice of advertising, and ads tailored for (and segmented to) the audience on precision bases. Of course, all of these services are used on multiple devices.
So what does this mean for marketing? Opportunity.

A shift that has been building for years—the fragmentation of media consumption—is coming to a head. Today’s tech-savvy consumers are excel- lent multitaskers, providing excellent opportunities for marketers to create integrated, cross-channel content (a word that is more complex than it seems at first glance).

To participate in this fragmented and mobile media world, brands must be a part of the stream of entertainment and information, not a disruption to it. These days, we focus on techniques that engage the consumer; the past model of passive broadcast no longer cuts it in that environment.

Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” campaign is a great, modern example of engaging the consumer and telling a memorable, emotional story that people want to share with others. In sheer numbers the campaign was staggering: the videos were viewed more than 114 million times in 110 countries on YouTube, and in 25 different languages on 33 of Dove’s YouTube channels. The campaign helped Dove gain traction in social media, adding over 337,000 fans on Facebook and generating 208 million Twitter impressions. In total, “Real Beauty Sketches” made more than 3 billion media impressions.


This is what marketers call “content,” a ubiquitous buzzword, but one that is giving rise to new business models. Content is monetized now through subscriptions, ad support, free models, or revenue shares. The free model is growing the fastest, but don’t let the word “free” fool you, as it is obviously still meant to make money.

Free models tend to make money by capturing data about users, or by driving users to other content where the monetizing takes place—whether through ad support or direct sale of the content or the user data. Amazon Prime’s streaming service is a good example, as users are entitled to free content up to a certain point before they’re charged for more.

Social media and mobile marketing, which depend on a steady content flow, are the fastest- growing channels in the industry. Year over year, this is where we see the greatest growth in advertising. That creates a complex picture for brands to work through. How do brands measure engagement with content and understand what it’s worth?

Marketers are coming to a better understanding of the importance of relevant content, and are using social media to distribute their content. But with so much of it out there, and in so many different forms, it’s difficult for brand marketers to navigate.

At Ogilvy & Mather, we’ve created a framework for four different types of content brands can use for marketing purposes: Magnetic, Immersive, Handy, and Learning. Our framework is a simple two-by- two matrix: the horizontal axis runs from engaging through entertainment to more utilitarian, while the vertical goes from broad to targeted relevance.


Magnetic content is broad yet engaging. For Louis Vuitton, we repositioned the brand around the idea of exploration. Print ads featured celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Sean Connery, Keith Richards, and Muhammad Ali. This was integrated into a content-rich e-commerce site and innovative mobile applications that let users explore cities.

A piece of work I admire, which was created by another agency for Burberry, engaged the target market with emotional content. Burberry created a portal where people could connect and send kisses through mobile devices to someone anywhere in the world. In this case, the engagement led to action.

Immersive content is engaging yet targeted. For some brands, it’s effective to get the consumer involved in something that is simple and fun. This is especially useful in the younger demographic. For Scrabble, we created a mobile app where people could access free Wi-Fi by unlocking the password through a game.

On the other side of the spectrum is Handy content, where the key is usefulness: news people can use, digital tools and real-time assistance, and technology that can serve the market in a relevant way.

For British Airways, we created frequently updated graphic and video content that gave consumers information on the different types of aircraft and destinations. For Nestlé, we provided tips on back-to-school essentials and shareable content about favorite foods. And in the B2B environment, social networks like LinkedIn can deliver handy content in the form of infographics.

And finally there is Learning content, which educates the marketplace but is more targeted. One high-profile example of this is IBM’s brand platform, Let’s Build a Smarter Planet. The Smarter Cities campaign uses distributed video and web content, among other channels, to demonstrate how city governments around the world can learn from others to improve everything from water supply to traffic patterns for medical care. The content has been wildly successful, generating sales leads that have resulted in hundreds of millions in revenue for IBM.


Marketing communications used to be an easy business, in a way. You could make a 30-second commercial with a big idea about your product, and broadcast it out to the world with a single-minded message. And although television viewing continues to rise each year, simply running broadcast advertising is no longer enough (although it remains very effective for mass reach).

Fragmentation has led consumers into a state of “continuous partial attention.” With the need for brands to be omnipresent and make an impact in so many different ways, it’s more important than ever to know what works and what does not. How do brands measure their performance in this environment? Accurate measurement of impact on social media and mobile channels, in particular, has not been easy to achieve.

Clients like to see clear-cut metrics and ROI. However, those analytics don’t truly exist yet in an apples-to-apples comparison to more traditional media channels. It is possible to clearly demonstrate that a sale was generated from a particular social media engagement or activity, but it’s not easy. And it is even more difficult to quantify something in the B2B environment.

Marketers are trying to develop new kinds of metrics that go way beyond the archaic “click-through rate.” It’s up to brands to establish the true value of a “view” or “friend” or “share.” The potential for measurement has not yet caught up to the reality.

Although it’s natural for marketers to think about mobility, content, analytics, and ROI to inform and justify their activities, marketing at its heart remains an emotional business. Sometimes the strength of an idea, the opportunity, or the pure visceral punch it delivers simply works.

And when that happens, the result is priceless (as with Dove Sketches). While this may sound risky, it’s always held true that the risk takers are the ones who win in the marketplace. KN mark

Carla Hendra is Global Chairman of OgilvyRED, the strategic consultancy group of Ogilvy & Mather, and proud parent of Nick Hendra, BSBA ’11, who was a two-time member of the Academic All-Patriot League team in men’s basketball.

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