It's Not Mobile-First; It's Becoming a Mobile-Only World, Says IAB's Rothenberg

March 19, 2017

This guest post was contributed by Steve Ellwanger, courtesy of Beet.TV.

Forget mobile first. It’s a mobile-only world, which provides challenges and opportunities for marketers and publishers as they embrace one-to-one consumer engagement, according to the President & CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

“It’s a completely different way of thinking about marketing,” Randall Rothenberg says in this interview with Beet.TV at the Mobile World Congress 2017, which took place in Barcelona. “All marketers are kind of overwhelmed.”

Mobile First? No, Mobile Only

With some two-thirds of U.S. consumers’ time spent on mobile devices, the biggest overall opportunity is “truly a one-to-one connection,” Rothenberg explains.

He offers an anecdotal observation about the extent of change in the mobile marketing world by noting that one of the MWC participants, Leonid Sudakov, used to be Chief Marketing Officer for the Mars pet care brands. “Now he’s President of Connected Solutions. That transition alone speaks volumes,” Rothenberg says.

In addition to figuring out the one-to-one consumer interface, brands and publishers are grappling with the question of how to integrate mobile media with preexisting media, according to Rothenberg. For example, how do Nielsen ratings for traditional television viewing mix with one-to-one metrics in the mobile environment?

On the publishing side, the classic advertising model continues to move to “some kind of post-advertising model.” Gone are the days of strictly thinking of advertising units as consisting of “boxes and time slots.”

For one thing, you just can’t fit enough of the boxes and time slots into the mobile space to make up for the volume of revenue that publishers enjoyed in the pre-mobile world. “The actual value that’s being created is through this one-to-one connection with the end user,” Rothenberg says.

Citing Turner Sports, CNN and Cartoon Network, Rothenberg notes that people will always want sports, news and entertainment content. These are “the kinds of things that publishing companies have specialized in since before the dawn of print,” he adds.

While the mobile train clearly has left the station, its potential has yet to be fully unleashed.

“You know you that you’ve got to start changing the wheels on the train but how you do it, what the new wheels are, what the time frame is to put the new wheels on is difficult to discern,” says Rothenberg.

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