Mobile Ad Spend: In Jeopardy Or Worth It?

Brandweek has an interesting article that suggests growth for mobile ad spending might be stunted in 2009. At the same time, the piece also bolsters the popularity of SMS marketing, as well as increasing usage of other types of mobile media. I think it’s fair to say that all ad spend will likely slow in the next year, but that mobile offers enough advantages that it may succeed while other platforms languish.

Industry experts express caution, dousing hopes mobile marketing would grow by leaps next year. That means lower spending as well as potentially less players. “I expect that we will see many marketers utilize their dollars for proven digital media and there will be a temporary reduction in spending for mobile,” says Mobile Marketing Association president Laura Marriott. While those using mobile campaigns will probably stick to them, says Forrester Research analyst Neil Strother, “A whole lot of the companies that haven’t done it won’t jump in.”

However, mobile marketing ultimately has more going for it than against it, or so it seems. JC Penney has been using the platform and continues to do so. “Mobile marketing has been instrumental during back-to-school season, when we are heavily reaching teens,” says JC Penney spokesperson Quinton Crenshaw. Then there are the low expenses associated with mobile: According to Forrester Research, 35 percent of mobile campaigns cost less than $10,000 and just 7 percent of mobile campaigns have budgets exceeding $1 million. (Text messaging makes up the lion’s share of marketers’ spend: eMarketer puts it at $1.47 billion for this year.)

We all know that marketing kind of goes against the opposite of what parents and teachers tell children: Because someone else is doing it absolutely means you should, too! Why? Competitors will gain an edge if they offer information or sales coupons to consumers in real time, since these incentives will likely bring buyers into their shops or onto Web sites–and keep them away from yours.

Of course mobile marketers need to tighten their belts. However, mobile campaigns are both affordable and effective in drawing consumers who themselves are tightening belts. Mobile, especially text messaging, can prove to have a higher ROI than other types of ads. Ultimately, there will still be enough marketers using mobile that their competitors will have to jump on the bandwagon, too. Mobile marketing may not see a boom in 2009–but neither will it experience a bust.