May 12, 2011

Optimizing the Mobile Media Matrix

(Read in entirety at Mobile Marketer or Mobile Commerce Daily)

Mobile is introducing greater complexity than marketers have seen, faster than they are ready to handle it.

While the “mobile media matrix” is not as sinister as the matrix of film legend, I predict it will become a disruptive enemy of businesses that do not choose to be its friend.


Here is how we think of it:

Mobile channels and media types
The matrix is dynamic. Let me explain what is going on along its various dimensions:

Consumers basically engage their mobile devices using the most popular touch-points and use cases (see ComScore’s most current data).

These touch-points are becoming mobile marketing channels, and include social, search, SMS, applications, email, local and offline, which includes print, public relations, direct and broadcast.

Each of these channels is represented in the matrix illustration using concentric rings, leading to the brand at the bottom.

Marketers reach consumers who engage each touch-point down the center through both “earned media” on the left and “paid media” on the right.

Each media type in each channel requires unique tactics to reach consumers and, ultimately, lead them to directly engage the brand Web site, storefront or phone.

(Note: For simplicity sake I have taken liberty with these definitions, beyond what Forrester originally outlined, though I agree with the market researcher’s framework.)

In essence, each channel is a conversion funnel to be optimized.

Each mobile consumer takes a potentially unique and complex combination of these paths to engage the fully mobile brand.

So the matrix begins to illustrate the myriad challenges facing marketers when optimizing for mobile including but not limited to:

· Establishing and managing presence in new mobile channels such as SMS, apps and local

· Retrofitting presence for prior channels such as search, social, email and offline

· Mastering an expanding list of tactics by media type within each channel such as tweets, links, app display and geo-aware coupons

· Developing and executing optimization strategies across channels

Coupled to these challenges is the pace of change within the mobile industry:

· New providers emerge, adding complexity to each channel and media type

· Each channel is shifting in business contribution and will change over time

· Adoption of new device types – tablets, blue-ray TV – will create new channels and requirements

Prioritizing resources, and executing strategies amidst attribution problems and IT/CMS constraints makes it very unlikely brands will successfully optimize sufficiently.

This is why so many brands take an incremental approach to mobile optimization by focusing on just the “brand” channel to the exclusion of the search and social channels that would maximize ROI.

Optimization priorities
The way most brands approach mobile optimization is to first secure the base.

That is, optimize for brand users – either type-in traffic or search as navigation users – by providing content and processes that are optimized for the mobile viewports.

But this is just defense and no offense. There is nothing about this strategy to connect the brand to mobile channel users.

So next they tend to optimize for “paid media” through mobile pay-per-click efforts, social display, geo-aware texting campaigns or print-based QR codes.

The vendors here are incented to optimize campaign ROI and make it straight-forward to execute. It is a natural next step.

Last are the “earned media” elements such as SEO, social media, texting, and app rank.

Marketers hesitate here because they can be complex, lack standards and can be more difficult to quantify than the paid media brethren.

But marketers should reconsider this approach because optimizing for earned media amplifies mobile ROI and minimizes ongoing paid media costs – particularly those that are addressable through your information architecture.

I recently conducted an analysis of Carnival’s new mobile site by analyzing how friendly the site was to mobile search, social and app users. Read my analysis that illustrates the differences between being “mobile-friendly” and “mobile optimized.”

Device convergence, channel divergence
Marketers today tend to look at the world through a divergent lens.

When new technology emerges, we do not expect it to replace the old channels, we plan on managing yet another channel.

Before the Internet, marketers focused on direct, broadcast and telephone channels. The Internet added email, Web, search and, recently, social channels to the list. That is the pattern.

With mobile, marketers are applying this same paradigm. They see similar patterns that reinforce the paradigm with new mobile channels such as SMS, apps and local search. But that is where the paradigm fails.

Smartphone technology is hot because it is convergent by nature, offering consumers ultimate digital conveniences beyond yesteryear’s mobile phones and PDAs.

This access point will soon be the reality glue that binds offline, online and mobile channels together. It creates opportunity for marketers to take a convergent approach to connecting with smartphone consumers.

Consider how offline marketing – whether direct, catalog, TV, billboard – can take advantage of mobile economics.

Using tactics such as branded short links and QR codes, brands can now give consumers the fastest, most direct access to the deep Web that they have ever had.

Previously, search and, specifically, Google, filled that role. Soon consumers will not necessarily have to type anything, just scan to order direct from a manufacturer or retailer.

Or consider how online marketing – search, social, local – is affected by mobile.

The basic content requirements required for mobile are unique. Information architecture needs to be findable, sociable, accessible, consumable and trackable.

The mobile device market is convergent in its singular ability to connect marketers with consumers at all digital touch-points.

This gives marketers opportunity to sculpt wide-ranging disruptive mobile strategies that can potentially solve for perennial marketer problems such as multichannel attribution.

However, the channels that this interaction occurs through are divergent and quickly evolving.

The challenge is that as new vendor specialists emerge to solve unique problems of each channel, media-type achieving integration with or across other channels become increasingly difficult. Consider examples such as mobile Web content systems, mobile SEO providers, mobile analytics, SMS deployment and app promotion.

THE PROMISE OF making “earned media” optimization a requirement of your mobile Web architecture is that it strategically reduces your reliance on paid media costs, while accelerating mobile ROI.

Consumer brands that nail this approach can quickly free-up resources to create strategic advantage elsewhere in the mobile matrix.

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