AdWeek New York 2011: Key take-aways

In a previous post we shared some observations from Mobilize 2011. In this post, we’ll be covering some key take-aways from the AdWeek conference, held in New York about a week ago.

Mobile device usage continues to grow at a rapid pace. However, while mobile device consumption already accounts for approximately 8% of total user time, only 0.5% of total ad spend flows into mobile at this time – with 61.9% of all advertising dollars still being spent on classical TV ads. Given the observed shift in consumer behavior and the well-known advertising truism that consumer behavior always leads ad spend, it’s obvious that this is going to change. We can thus be certain to see more and more ad dollars being spent on mobile to resolve this mismatch.

One reason for the lagging ad spend is that current mobile advertising methods are still far from being really effective. For example, due to non-existing user targeting click-through rates (CTRs) for display ads are often as low as 0.1%. While novel performance-based display advertising technologies may yield CTRs of around 1% and look very promising, they have not yet catched up with performance-based search advertising.
Let’s take a look at QR codes as another example for why mobile ad spend is lagging behind. QR codes are a mobile ad technology with a lot of potential. However, they are often used very ineffectively and thus result in disappointing campaigns and low engagement. Way too often QR codes are printed on ads, flyers or posters without any easy-to-understand value proposition and often times simply redirect to a standard website. What a missed opportunity! To unleash the full potential of QR codes, they need to be deployed more innovatively and communicate a direct benefit to an interested customer. Instead of linking to a standard website, QR codes should be used to access context-specific information to improve offline sales, increase online revenues or stimulate on-device sales. For example, a QR code proving easy access to opening hours and the social media presence of a store can be leveraged to drive foot traffic (and thus improve offline sales). But of course, consumers also need a fast and easy-to-use QR scanning app right at their fingertips. And too many consumers still do not know how to read those funny square codes. Luckily our Scandit QR code scanner is now generally available…

Also in the online world marketing methods differ largely in effectiveness. A senior director of business development with GAP offered some interesting insights here: Coupons and discounts (unfortunately) still are the most effective driver for their business. No need for a fancy Facebook app or putting nice runway pictures of new dresses online; just offer a 35% coupon and your site is going to crash! But as this is fairly expensive, GAP would love to have cheaper but equally effective means of marketing. Ideas wanted…

In general, most speakers, panelists and attendees were very excited about classical, online and new, mobile advertising coming together. And many felt that the same way mobile devices have already changed our behavior they will transform the mobile advertising industry. In taking advantage of these novel tools and capabilities, advertising professionals just always need to ask themselves: “What can we do that really helps the customer?”

To draw your own conclusions about the state of the mobile, online and classical advertising industry, you can check out the full-length videos of most sessions of the conference or search for the Twitter hashtags #aw8 and #advertisingweek.
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