Is Mobile The Future of Advertising…or Couponing?

For the past couple of years, the advertising industry has heard the steadily-rising drumbeat for mobile–how it, along with geo-tagging and participation marketing, is going to change our industry.

Dennis Ryan, Chicago Advertising, Element 79It makes sense.  Everyone carries a cell phone these days and the penetration of smart phones increases dramatically every quarter.  People use their phones to research all kinds of things during shopping trips so the aperture seems right.

The only problem is that despite all the headlines and conferences, no one can point to a single “kick ass mobile ad.”  Because there’s no such thing.  And don’t hold your breath for one anytime soon…

A post this morning on Digiday reports on a nationwide survey conducted by Sybase 365, a self-described “mobile commerce and content delivery company.”  The Sybase folks breathlessly report that over 30% of all consumers would buy things from their mobile devices if they were offered a discount or coupon.  From this, they conclude mobile commerce is about to hit “critical mass” because “mobile commerce ties the physical to the virtual world.”  Oh boy, pinch me.

Yes, this is advertising.  No, it’s not particularly interesting.  This is advertising at it’s most transactional, purely functional level.  It is database activation and optimization: certainly a necessary and useful pursuit, but not one laden with personal meaning or consumer engagement for the brand.  It’s commerce yes, but not content.

Hopefully, if the mobile platform proves relevant to consumers, someone will find a way to innovate brand messaging on mobile screens.  I just hope that by that point, my eyes aren’t too far gone to notice.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79


One thought on “Is Mobile The Future of Advertising…or Couponing?

  1. TLC says:

    It’s a sad reality for those of us who’d like to believe the work we do is building a lasting and meaningful bond with consumers to realize that retail drives the purchase decision more than anything else. Even the most well forged brand relationships can be tested and broken by nothing stronger than a sale price of 15 cents less by a competitor.

    That said, I think there are opportunities with mobile that go beyond content delivery, which is still hamstrung by screen size and bandwidth. Competition and interaction with other mobile users is where the fun is. The recent VW contest in Stockholm comes to mind.

Leave a Reply