It’s (Past) Time to Solve the Mobile Dilemma

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Marketers are in a race to the top – or the bottom. The choice is theirs. To make it they’re going to need to pull their heads out of the sand and wrap them around the reality of mobile marketing. They need to face the facts of what is happening and take action now to succeed. Timid measures, half steps and uncertainty have the industry at a crossroads: One path leads to a vicious cycle that will drive mobile into a wasteland of limited value, the other to a virtuous cycle that can create the potential for a multitrillion dollar global mobile marketing ecosystem.

What’s behind this decision point? It’s everything from new mobile devices to a proliferation of ad tech. As is often the case, emerging technology has offered marketers new ways to practice their craft. Unfortunately, they still lack a universal approach to one of the most fundamental requirements of marketing: ensuring that communication reaches the intended audience. This is a huge problem.

A recent poll of participants in an MMA webinar on the economics of mobile found that tracking and measurement is the biggest frustration marketers have with the mobile ecosystem. Forty eight percent of respondents cited tracking and performance as their greatest concern, far outpacing cost and complexity (21 percent), privacy (15 percent), the ability to scale (13 percent) or protecting their brand (3 percent). Addressing the tracking challenge is the first step to creating the virtuous cycle.

Beyond the poll I’ve also had the opportunity to spend time with industry executives from around the world – people from 30 companies – to hear what issues are on their minds and discuss potential solutions. These are really smart people. It’s obvious from talking to them that they need an accurate way to identify and reach their target audiences, as well as to determine how well the mobile campaigns they’ve designed are performing. Without these things, marketing is a crapshoot – and that’s not a model for success.

Reading about doubts and concerns around the potential of mobile marketing makes me crazy. This could be the biggest opportunity marketers have ever had. Think about it: We’re talking about some of the most exciting devices ever created. They’re within arms-length of hundreds of millions – if not billions – of people 24/7. They can deliver incredible content and experiences. But for some reason the industry is scratching its collective head saying, “Gee, sure wish we knew who we’re talking to on these things.”

Those who can solve that problem are going to make it possible for smart marketers to do incredible things. Marketers who fail to evolve with the times will wake up one day and wonder when the world passed them by. Hint: It’s happening to them right now, but they don’t realize it yet.

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