Analysis Paralysis and Mobile Advertising

The growing mobile content environment can be a confusing space for advertisers. But it would be a mistake to let that confusion translate to inaction.

Advertisers are rightfully cautious about adopting mobile advertising. Advertising costs money, and like anything else that carries a cost, there needs to be some general sense of what that cost is buying. We’re in the early stages today in terms of measuring reach, quantifying ROI, and developing the most effective best practices. By early days, I mean there are few set-in-stone rules, but there are some pretty comfortable assumptions to work with.

But too much caution can be a liability. Over analyzing action before taking any can do more harm than good. It’s not surprising to see potential advertisers carefully consider every step while considering a mobile campaign—from choosing the development partner, to the creative of the ad, to a deliberate and phased rollout— but the consequences are long and expensive delays keeping new projects from going live.

Which is ironic, because at this stage of the game, advertisers should be running, not shuffling, to get into mobile. For starters, mobile advertising rates are low. Low enough that the cost to experiment on this new platform costs only a fraction of traditional advertising campaigns. Secondly, mobile has reach. According to a recent Deloitte report, 26% of the U.S. population over the age of 14 owns either a smartphone or a tablet. The same report states that tablet owners stream video 70% more than those who don’t. And finally, mobile ads see greater engagement than traditional ads, both in terms of interaction and transactional capabilities. According to a recent report by Mediabrix, mobile ad click through rates are 30-times higher than standard banner advertising campaigns.

Nielsen, the industry standard for video traffic monitoring, in fact has begun monitoring mobile video usage. Its competitor, comScore, has also debuted a new cross-platform monitoring system.

So we have two forces here that are in fact working together. First is a large, highly-engaged user base with which to conduct real life advertising experiments. Second is a highly affordable path towards doing so. Combined, these force signal “speed up!” not “slow down.”

By all means, advertisers should be carefully analyzing mobile platforms. But the analysis should take place not before the ad even goes live, as there’s little data to chew on. It should be analysis of action. Fear of making mistakes is understandable. But the consequences of doing so now are the lowest they’ll ever be.

Eventually, mobile advertising rates will go up. It’s inevitable. So it makes more sense to stumble through the trial and error phase now, while the risks and costs are low. Then, once mobile advertising costs go up, the prepared advertisers will have a concrete, battle-tested strategy in place and ahead of the curve/competition.

Monetization takes time to develop. And given today’s cost, reach, and engagement advantages, there’s no better time than the present to get started.

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