Interview: Paul Berney (MMA) on Mobile Marketing in a Global Perspective.

„The question I’m asked most often has moved from ‚Why?‘ to ‚How?‘. That’s a really big change“, says Paul Berney, Chief Marketing Officer and Managing Director, EMEA, at the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA). Brands and their agencies are now quite certain that they have to do Mobile, since „Mobile is creating a new level of engagement for people“, as Paul describes it: „with each other, with brands, with organizations. It’s enabling people to do things in real time“. We talked to Paul Berney at Trademob’s Mobile App Marketing Campfire in Cologne, a pre-event to dmexco, Germany’s biggest digital marketing association. He notices that „interestingly all the internet companies that are here are starting to add in some mobile capabilities to what they are doing“. Thus, Mobile isn’t a sphere for Mobile-only companies only anymore. Still, the MMA has much work to do on educating the big brands on Mobile, since they are being a long way behind the consumers and spend only 1 percent of their advertising budgets on Mobile Advertising. In Germany, a few days ago a trade publication wrote on Mobile Marketing and only included Marketing via SMS and MMS which sounds old-fashioned to me. In 2012, what would be a better definition of Mobile Marketing?

Paul Berney: The interesting thing is, Mobile Marketing grows in different ways across the whole world because of cultural, economic and social conditions. It doesn’t grow the same way. So what works in one market doesn’t necessarily work in another. That said, we tend to talk about Mobile Marketing being everything that a brand or an organization can do in the mobile channel to connect, engage and communicate with a chosen audience. So we would include everything from advertising to promotions to customer services within the Mobile Marketing. We also talk about Mobile Marketing breaking down into five individual channels: Mobile Messaging (SMS and MMS), Mobile Internet, Downloads and other types of Content and Apps, Search and Location based Technologies. The whole range of those things. So you can break down mobile into either the technologies. My personal preference is to break down Mobile into how it works in terms of Marketing. I’m less interested in the technology and more interested in what it does. Rather than what it is. So what’s so interesting in Mobile Marketing for you personally? How to reach the customers? Or what’s the main point?

Paul Berney: I see mobile – as everyone would say – as the always on, always with us, most personal channel. I think it really gets that now. I’m working in Mobile for eight and a half years now and in that time, the question I’m asked most often has moved from “Why?” to “How?”. That’s a really big change. Some people don’t ask me anymore “Why should I do Mobile?”. They just say: “How do I do it?”, “What do I do?”, “Who do I work with?” That’s a really big change. Personally for me, the exciting part is seeing how mobile is creating a new level of engagement for people: with each other, with brands, with organizations. It’s enabling people to do things in real time. The plus side of that is the ability for brands to connect with their consumers at any time, at any place and everywhere and do something. The challenge of that is, there is an expectation build with consumers that you will be able to connect at any time, at any place and everywhere. If you don’t deliver that as a brand it may become a reason to deselect you. That’s a challenge for brands to meet. Why do you think that so many brands nowadays still don’t have a mobile website or app? If you are a customer here in Germany and look for a big brand, it might happen that you’ll only see a desktop website on your mobile device, which has a bad usability.

Paul Berney: It’s an interesting question. You would have thought by now that brands would understand that they need to create mobile specific content, mobile specific experiences. What that points to is, we still have a big job to do with education. One of the things I frequently talk to brands and their agencies about is: Do you understand mobility as a concept when it comes to your product, your service with your consumer or your audience. And for most of them, they don’t know the answer to that. They haven’t thought about it. They don’t have the consumer insight that says this is what my consumer wants from me when they are mobile. A really easy practical starting point for brands is to be able to say: how many people are already trying to interact with me via mobile? If you look at your weblogs and say: how many people are trying to access your website from a mobile device? And I know the number is always higher than the brand will tell you. They will tell you that it’s hardly anybody and the number is always more than that. That’s a starting point to say to them: people are already trying to connect with you. Doesn’t that mean that you should be giving them a way of connecting via the mobile channel? Shouldn’t you create something specific for the mobile channel? And look what they are trying to access on your website because it gives you a clue what your consumers wants from you. There’s a big discussion going on now on Mobile Advertising spending. You just published a study („Mobile’s Share of the Mix – Marketing Evolution“) on that. Could you please summarize that study?

Paul Berney: The study is published for the US market only. It looks for a way to measure the ROI (Return on Investment) for mobile by looking at the effectiveness of Mobile Marketing alongside market spend. Basically it takes five or six data points and lays them on top of each other. The end result has been that we would say in the US market the optimum amount of budget spend that you should dedicate towards mobile is about 7 percent across all brands and across all sectors. It’s slightly higher or lower in different sectors. But the interesting thing is if you look how much budget is currently spent on mobile, it’s somewhere around 1 percent or less. If you than look at how much consumer time is spent in the mobile channel, depending upon which research study you look at, that’s somewhere around 10 and 20 percent of all the American consumer time. If you look at these three numbers together, you’re seeing the difference of consumers already being in the mobile channel, brands being a long way behind the consumers and a long way behind what would be the optimum for them. So the challenge for the MMA and its members is how do we bring that 1 percent to the 7 percent. And then how do we catch up with the 10 percent or 20 percent. How do we make mobile to keep pace? Because I think the rule people generally tend to follow is that the money tends to follow the eyeballs. In mobile’s case, if 10 percent of the consumer time are there, then you should have a lot higher amount of your budget devoted towards it. What do you think how long it will take to get this big budget shift in the US?

Paul Berney: I think the publishing of the study helps. We are also working on a big study that shows the crossmedia effectiveness of mobile. The reality is we have to overcome all of the barriers the industry is saying are there to overcome before people will invest. We have to overcome the barrier of education, of measurement, metrics, insights, of protection of consumers. These are all things we need to do. My guess is that given the rate of change in the US already, within two years we’ll get to the 7 percent number. It maybe five years before the spend on mobile will really be aligned with the amount of consumer time. Can you break that study down to Europe as well or is the situation quite different here?

Paul Berney: We’re looking how to do this study here as well. The same set of data doesn’t exist for Europe yet, but we’re working with a lot of different research partners to see whether we can get that data. I think the numbers are probably similar in Europe. Certainly in Western Europe in the big five markets. I suspect that the UK, Germany and interestingly Turkey are the furthest ahead in terms of the amount of budget devoted to it. If I look at the really big brands here like Adidas, BMW and Mercedes, I see very good mobile persons and efforts from them. Of cause, these are the brands that are the leaders and that everybody else wants to follow. So they eventually drag the rest of the market with them. We are doing this interview at dmexco, a big exposition for the digital sphere here in Cologne. What do you think: Is mobile already on the minds of the digital decision makers in Germany?

Paul Berney: It’s my fourth or fifth time at dmexco. I like to come. The German market is always one that’s really interesting and exciting for me. The work that Germany does with the BVDW is helping stimulating grow the market. What’ll be interesting for me, even though I haven’t been in the halls yet, each year the number of companies doing mobile has risen. Interestingly all the internet companies that are here are starting to add in some mobile capabilities to what they are doing. This is really noticeable from year to year to year. We were starting with a small numbers of booths for mobile only companies. And now you’re seeing mobile being integrated to bigger companies. And you see this at other places at well. So when I went to the advertising festival in Cannes this year, if you looked at the award entries one out of every two or three entries had mobile as part of it. I think the rise of mobile is very definite to notice and I think it’s accelerating. What will mobile mean for society not only today, but maybe in five years ahead in a global perspective?

Paul Berney: Actually I’m not interested in the technology. I’m much more interested in marketing and consumer behavior. I think the biggest driver of mobile is actually consumer behavior. What I’ve seen across the whole world is that mobile both causes and enables changes in consumer behavior. It’s more noticeable with people that you call the digital natives, the people that are under 40 years old. What I love about working in the mobile industry and what I find fascinating is that the growth and innovation of mobile is not restricted to the biggest companies in the most prosperous markets. Sometimes the most innovative things that you see are in emerging economies in Africa, in Latin America, in India because sometimes they are leapfrogging or jumping over fixed line internet and online. The internet for many people in the world is the thing that happens on your phone. They’re never going to own a computer. They may never own a television. So mobile is going to become the primary channel, the first screen for many of those people in the world. And so you’ll see more innovation perhaps coming out of emerging economies and emerging markets than you’ll have from the developed ones. That has to be a fascinating space to work in. Thank you very much, Paul!

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