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The First Screen: Mobile finally comes of age:

August 7, 2012

I remember well the early days of trying to sell online marketing and advertising opportunities to the internal agency folk and our clients.

They were dark and terrible times. Our excitement over this transformative and transactional channel was matched with equal or greater enmity by senior technophobes masquerading as those in the know.

The handful of us who were so enthused by the live possibilities in the mid to late ’90’s were given, at best, the late afternoon presentation slot historically reserved for PR or media – at around 4.30pm – to tout our strange wares. By that time of day most of the senior Clients had made polite apologies or together with the agency MD and Creative Directors had wondered off into the pub – and so we had to excite and cajole the remaining junior clients who had either no budget nor autonomy, usually a combo deal, into selecting this riveting “channel” as part of their mix.

I think we were targeting less than 1 percent of their spend at the time.

On an agency Group and international investment level, despite the seeming disinterest or malaise, agencies generally over-called the early uptake of the “Web” by clients and the subsequent blood-letting of jobs and talent in this area was sad and enormous. It would even be fair to say that because of this initial slow start, many big agencies today are still cautious and grapple with digital.

Leap forward a decade or so, it would seem almost inconceivable to the younger twenty-something staff enjoying thriving careers in the “new media” world that these were the tribulations we endured. But I share this more as a cautionary note to guard against future ill-considered and abject rejection of new possibilities.

Now we actually get Clients and Creatives often asking “but what about social media?” at the end of any briefing or creative presentation. It’s great to have that newfound passion and interest but at the same time it needs to be factored and measured against the actual job at hand and the role it’s meant to play in the communication strategy. But I’ll get on to more of that later.

Let’s talk mobile & tablet.

How many “channels” can you name that are always on you? That has practically a 100% market penetration. That are highly accessible due to packaged telecoms deals and that are literally referred to throughout the day for a manner of needs. One. It’s simple, highly engaging and keeps you connected with family, friends, the news, the Kardashians and @Le_Clos Swim…

With FOMO (fear of missing out) having taken firm hold, this little monster has replaced the Readers Digest as the essential toilet read as one scans Twitter, Facebook,Linked-in and the like for ongoing feeds and updates.

And it’s highly targeted. One can reach your audience via language selection on a handset, region, technology on the device and a multitude of filters that make this highly cost-effective channel even more so.

And that’s why we’ve just opened M&C SAATCHI Mobile locally under the leadership of my friend and brilliant business partner Zeyad Davids, in collaboration with our proven, established and leading offering head-officed under the UK’s under pioneering gurus James Hilton and Dusan Hamlin.

Mobile has proven to be a transformative channel for many of our Group’s blue-chip clients. As a direct response medium, Mobile’s superiority for delivering real-time ROI has seen a major retail client shift the majority of their acquisition-marketing budget toward the channel and away from TV, Print and even online display advertising – and locally with over 62% of the million new handsets going out every month having real access to the internet, why wouldn’t it be?

The little handset today has supposedly even changed entrenched dictatorships and has been credited as the key behind the “Arab Spring”.

Back to the point earlier, Mobile is the ultimate social media tool.

Interestingly enough we recently launched a new product for one of our Clients and social media, quite intentionally wasn’t part of the mix. The reason for that is although the product launch was relevant to the market, the innovation itself was perhaps not immediately resonant.

So we used other channels to do the relevance job but only once we found the right talkability angles in the promotional space did we feel we had the resonance to use social media.

And we were right, with a subsequent mobile audience reach of over a million and thousands of branded mentions within three weeks of the promotions launch – the proof point ultimately was jam-packed student campuses and clubs full of our market wanting to engage.

Now is not the time for a fear of technology – but rather an unbridled, running embrace.

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