Mobile firms missing a trick

Sara Kimberley’s upbeat analysis of digital media in Precision Marketing (29 July 2005) is a glowing evaluation of the sector’s current status. The direct marketing industry is now justifiably reaping the rewards of having stuck by a medium that in 2001 was the marketing equivalent of leprosy. Indeed, Zenith Optimedia substantiates the quoted IPA Bellweather report by estimating that whilst TV will grow by 1.5 % and press by 1.3% in 2005, online advertising will post a phenomenal 19 per cent rise. It’s an exciting time.

However, as an industry collective, this is no time to uncork the champagne and feel smug. Why? The key emerging digital trend is the amalgamation of many digital applications onto single platforms, most notably the mobile phone. MP3 players, cameras and radios are already integrated into new phones and with 46 million daily UK WAP page impressions just the start of the avalanche, the global market for downloading mobile content is set to become a multibillion-dollar industry within the next two years. The major problem here in the UK is that mobile phone operators take anywhere between 40-60% of revenue on mobile marketing campaigns. This is proving to be a severe barrier to any progressive marketers wanting to embrace the format. Moreover, mobile phone operators still only see themselves as vendors of phone minutes and line rentals with barely a glance aimed at the DM industry and marketing applications.
Mobile phone operators must create revenue models that encourage innovative marketing and re-brand themselves as content providers or face being trumped by other platforms and applications. With over £100 million being spent on mobile ads in Japan alone that country serves not only as a glimpse of an exciting digital future but also as a warning of a potential missed opportunity.

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