How To Monetize Mobile: Stop Being Idiots

On the subject of advertising unlike most, I’ve actually been in the conference room making my case to one of the countries definitive ad agencies whom represented not just a regional or national corporation, but international. While simultaneously trying to convince both them and the company they represented on a new untested marketing campaign.

Not only was I successful, that campaign has grown both exponentially, and is still in force today nearly 25 years later. So on this subject I believe I have a legitimate stand to voice my opinion.

First off; if eyeballs are considered as the be all – end all, touch stone, holy grail,  coveted metric that’s pushed down the throat of anyone that questions a platforms effectiveness for a ROI. (return on investment) Then why are Facebook® shares down?

They just crossed 1 Billion users last month. Yet, as much as they wanted it to be a headline with staying power; it was met with little more than a yawn. It seemed only the people holding shares (which are still underwater and as of this writing sinking deeper) were trying to keep the story afloat with a chance for rescue. They couldn’t.

Just for the record Yahoo® still has 700 MILLION monthly users that continue for what ever the reason to stay. Yet, the ad industry, financial channels, and most other media guru’s look upon them only through the lens of a has-been. What, eyeballs don’t apply here? I have yet to hear 1 person (or ad agency) trying to find the reason why users have shown loyalty to that platform in the face of such egregious mismanagement. Maybe someone should start looking there for clues first, rather than who is the next IPO darling.

Facebook and all the others (Zynga® or fill in the blank) are the equivalent of sinking ships until they can do one thing: Monetize mobile. And their views on how this should be done by means of their track record shows, “They know Nothing!” to paraphrase Sgt. Schultz.

Look at banner ads or pop ups. Are these effective traffic and profit generators for advertisers? These were heralded game changers for the ad industry, and the platforms they dominate. For about 10 minutes. Now you can buy placement of a banner ad by the million for mere pennies with a possible conversion rate of Zero success into a single sale. I will contend you have a better shot of a conversion into a sale today with a fax machine. No, I’m not kidding.

So what do the wizards that now control or run these giant companies such as Facebook, Yahoo, and others subject one to? Double, triple, or ad infinitum banner ads, pop ups, or yet the even more creative emails telling you, “you have notifications pending.” Is this not the lamest take on “You’ve got mail.” What corporate executive or ad “genius” came up with that ploy? Hope their bonuses aren’t tied to stock options.

When you or anyone else is on a mobile device, what is the last thing you want happening? (or what makes you want to throw your device across a room) I’ll contend it’s this: Waiting for some pop up commercial to finish before you proceed. Or if you’re in the middle of something when a pop up covers anything you’re looking at.

This isn’t intrusive advertising. It’s offensive behavior from amateurs with no other ideas than “Oh Shite! Do something! Anything!” Even if it’s proven useless.

Computer and mobile device viewing are not a different version of television or radio engagement. They are different in far more complicated ways than most understand. (or will admit)

Although some believe that the audio of a television commercial maybe transferable or useable on radio. They make grave errors of assumption when they believe they can transfer effectively over to the computer or mobile device. Which is what nearly everyone is trying; while getting it worse than wrong in my opinion.

Most so-called “advertising professionals” have no clue or understanding in areas such that a person will tolerate a static burdened picture on television as long as the audio is unharmed. However reverse it as to the audio is static laden yet the picture is perfect, and people will near immediately turn the channel.

The more one tries to shoehorn (or butcher) commercials from one medium to another without first understanding the premise that 99% of them won’t work. Not only will potential customers continue to tune out, but so will the very same advertisers currently spending today’s precious ad dollars.

All major companies have some part of their ad budget put aside for speculative advertising. They may not know what to do, but they’ll throw something at the space because they understand the potential. That is what is transpiring today in my view.

However, when that part of the budget runs dry with no meaningful results to show for it. Facebook and all the others can say goodbye to getting at the real budget. The real money only gets spent on result proven campaigns. Period. And once that ends, anything having its earnings tied to mobile sales conversions will be toast.

It won’t be long (if it isn’t happening already) they’ll get to the point of not answering the sales calls from the likes of Facebook and the others. Or start treating these IPO darlings in the same fashion a mobile user treats an ad. “Just how can I make this thing go away?”

If I channel my inner David Ogilvy, I keep coming to the same conclusion: The reason why no one has yet been able to monetize mobile is the people running around and selling advertising have no idea or understanding what the mobile user wants or doesn’t want; let alone what they may or may not put up with. What is currently taking place is nothing more than amateurs hurling vapid ideas against the proverbial wall. Their answer to this dilemma? Throw more.

The ads, the way one pushes an ad, or the way a company presents itself to a mobile user with real success has yet to be discovered in my view. This abomination of using techniques from one media of advertising to mobile shows not only a lack of creativity, but a pure lack of vision and understanding on what makes a customer buy.

This notion of how many eyeballs are viewing an ad as its reason for existence is nothing more than a crock for trying to sell their ad space to the uninformed. The sole purpose of an ad, any ad, is for enticing a potential customer to view the advertisers wares with hope and intention they’ll open their wallet and purchase the advertisers product. If 10 Billion people view it, yet not one buys; it’s an abominable failure. Period.

Someone needs to get the guts and scream at their next ad meeting: “This ain’t working!” However don’t wait for someone in the “coder” crowd to be the one to start shouting. This will take someone with true creative vision. Most likely it will come from someone on the outside.

The mobile ad space is just as new of a territory to be discovered as the silicon chip was to the vacuum tube in my view. And no vacuum tube manufacturer made the switch successfully (or admitted its validity.) So forget eyeballs as the holy grail metric. Concentrate more on how to entice those viewers into opening their wallets. The person or company that gets that realization at its core will not only break new ground, they’ll own it!

And just for the record those thinking, “Yeah but what have you done in mobile?” Well I was one of the lone voices to say the iPad® would not only be a success but revolutionary when everyone from print to television was pontificating how smart they were by stating how dumb the iPad name alone was. I was also one of the first to have a personal dedicated app for my writings before anyone else. And just for good measure as of this writing over 2/3rd’s of all the apps available have never even been downloaded. Mine still routinely does, and is still available at iTunes®. That puts me in the top-tier of all apps to date. It’s all in my archives, and the creation date of my app in iTunes proves my assertions. Just for the record.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr