Mobile Web: The Next Mobile Advertising Frontier

Erica Chriss, VP of Strategy and Business Development at Greystripe, said that “everything old is new again,” as there is a resurgence of browsers in mobile.  Previously, carriers dominated the browser, and the mantra was that “WAP is crap.”  However, as browsers have improved, input methods for mobile devices have become easier to use, and the carriers and device manufacturers have shifted their control to application stores, mobile web has become more attractive.  The year over year growth of browser usage has outpaced app usage (39% to 34%).

As applications expand vertically, the mobile browser allows for a horizontal expansion across multiple platforms.  Browsers can more efficiently use limited resources in a more affordable way.

Panel – Apps vs. WAP: Choosing the Right Mobile Platform for Your Brand

The second panel of the day asked the question “to app or not to app?”

Jordan Greene, Principal at Mella Media (moderator)

Jeph Sass, VP of Business Development & Chief Evangelist at Myxer

Katie Juhl, Manager at National Geographic Mobile

Patrick Mork, CMO at GetJar

Bryson Meunier, Associate Director at Resolution Media

Meunier noted that a benefit of apps is that they are buzzworthy.  However, being more flashy may not be the most important goal, Sass countered, as the app limits your reach.  Do you need the features of the phone that only an app can use, or can you still provide your content via mobile web?  Mork noted that the most successful publishers have supplemented their applications with a fully featured mobile web (85 million customers of GetJar have downloaded an app that is nothing more than a shortcut to the Facebook mobile site.)

The experience of traditional and mobile web site is different.  Juhl noted that even for smartphone users, it’s important to develop a mobile web site for a brand.  Meunier explained that people use the experiences differently, using different keywords on sites (focusing on content like hours and contact info for mobile retail sites instead of product keywords on the same brand’s desktop site.)

Application distribution and marketing are as critical (and expensive) as application development.  Juhl likened a brand producing an app and then not marketing or updating it to the New York Times publishing one day’s paper and then stopping the presence.  Mork advises brands to distribute their apps as broadly as possible, on as many app stores and channels as possible.

Standing out in an app store rely on a number of factors (one, Juhl noted, is quality; a good or useful app is likely to remain at the top of the store once it gets there.)  The panelists discussed the importance of advertising outside of the app store.  I would liken it to the decision whether to use a push or pull strategy to sell product in a brick and mortar store; can you bring a consumer to the app store specifically to find your app?  It’s critical, according to Mork, that brands integrate mobile advertising into its holistic advertising campaign.

Greene likened our evolution in the mobile marketplace as only the second inning of a baseball game.  New technologies and new ways of integrating content and phone function may change how applications and mobile web are used.  In the near future, though, apps and mobile web will co-exist, and a brand would do well to ensure that they complement one another.

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