Mobile Media, Can Advertising Agencies Keep Up?

July 1, 2009

mobilemarketingpanelAs technology continues to push media and communication boundaries, do advertising agencies have even a chance of keeping up? With the recent exponential growth in Mobile Media, will agencies be able to get ahead of it or will it roll over them?

The last six to eight years have been characterized by traditional agencies and agency groups rushing to acquire or build digital, direct marketing and database/analytics capabilities. Having done so, they immediately tout the fact that they are a fully integrated agency.  “A one stop shop with the ability to deliver campaigns that run across the full media spectrum.” “Really, the full media spectrum?” How many agencies can really claim be competent across the “full media spectrum”?

Let’s take a look at mobile media for example. The Washington Post reported today that YouTube has seen a 1700% increase in video uploads from mobile devices. 400% of the increase occurred in the six days following the recent release of the new Apple 3G iPhone. They also predict that video sharing via a mobile device will continue to skyrocket over the next few months.

While some may say that this will just increase the amount of silly user-generated content, it could alternatively very well spur the “iReporter” movement, as consumers upload video taken at the scene of a newsworthy event. Can you just imagine the applications from an advertising and brand/product promotion perspective? The ability to document and share brand experiences in real time, be they positive or negative? Or enhanced consumer brand involvement and shared experiences? The possibilities are mind boggling.

The question this raises is how can clients expect their agencies to successfully integrate innovative mobile marketing technologies and ideas into their work, if the agency teams working on the assignments very often do not have a true understanding of the media and what is and is not possible? This may well end up being another case of the client taking the leadership role and finding their own solutions outside of the agency relationship.


The bottom line is that most agencies currently have little to no true mobile marketing expertise! The bulk of the current know how rests with a few specialist agencies and wireless vendors. In my opinion, Mobile Marketing is going to continue to grow in importance and scale in the foreseeable future, and the agency world either needs to embrace it and get ahead of it, or have it roll right over them.

So, what can an agency do to avoid being left behind?

  • You start by doing something as simple as engaging various experts in the field to help your client and creative teams understand what it available and how to leverage it.
  • The next step might be to set up a formal strategic alliance with a partner who’s competent in the space and include them in agency ideation sessions.
  • Another alternative is to hire an expert who can work within the agency to evangelize the media and help identify some key client opportunities.

Whatever you do, I suggest that you at least avoid doing nothing. Mobile marketing not going away and ignorance is not bliss. Now is the ideal opportunity to strategically add this capability to your agency repertoire.