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The holiday season is upon us; even those uninitiated in the ways and means of retail can see it in the Halloween decorations and candy that are now so plentiful on store shelves. For the initiated — that is, anyone who expects to make a buck off of the holiday shoppers this year — not only is the season here, but plans to address it are already in place. “Address,” of course, refers to marketing and related CRM activities. “Marketing and CRM,” meanwhile, means mobile — at least, if the last two years have been any indication.


Real-time bidding holds numerous benefits for mobile marketers, but there are downsides to the ad technology as well. In particular, the dominant theme to that downside is that RTB — at least for mobile ad formats and mobile platforms — is still in its early days. More specifically, while the technology may have been around for several years, it’s only recently that it has scaled to the point where mobile marketers can use it. Why is that a problem? Here’s one example.


When the expected surge in mobile video advertising arrives, it’s not just consumers
who will have adjustments to make. Rather, marketers will also have to make some changes to accommodate the growth in this up-and-coming format. In this new world, the motto will be “short and sweet” — as in 15 seconds, said Anthony Iacovone, founder and CEO of AdTheorent. “Ads longer than 15 seconds should be choice-based — that is, able to be skipped by the consumer,” Iacovone said.


As an onslaught of mobile video ads threatens the digital advertising landscape, it’s sobering enough to realize that more than a few brands are not fully prepared. Even more concerning, however, is that our wireless infrastructure is not ready for it, either. Perhaps worst of all, consumers do not appear eager to shoulder the burden of this ad format and the bandwidth it gobbles up. What, then, is a marketer to do? Sink money into an ad format that may or may not deliver a pleasing experience to the user?


The case for SMS marketing is easy to make. It’s cheap and it’s easy. It can be far-reaching, given how many people carry cellphones now — and did I mention that it’s cheap? Still, there is a downside to SMS marketing. For starters, it can be very annoying to consumers, especially if the text isn’t something that sparks their interest. Even those who have indicated they’re receptive to text messages from a brand can quickly sour on the idea if those messages come too often or don’t provide new information.


ClearSlide has already released several mobile apps targeting salespeople on the road, and recently it rolled out another key piece of its platform in mobile form. Dubbed “Connect,” the new app for iOS gives users mobile access to marketing and sales collateral stored in the cloud, such as presentation decks, white papers and videos. Users can grab whichever piece of content they want from their phone and then send it to a client, for instance. Instant alerts can notify them when that content is viewed.


Like everyone else with a pulse, Paul Rand, president and CEO of Zocalo Group, has noted the phenomenal growth of mobile advertising. Statistic after statistic confirms such observations, including the latest from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which earlier this week reported that mobile advertising revenue leaped an eye-popping 82.8 percent to $8.9 billion in 2012. “Within the last 18 months, consumer mobile usage has exploded,” Rand said.


Mobile marketing may just be in its infancy, but it already has ushered in a world of new risks — or rather, existing risks that have been repackaged. They range from running afoul of still-developing regulations to security concerns, to consumers misinterpreting content. Keeping a marketing message consistent is becoming more essential. Fortunately, companies have available to them modern platforms that enable developers to build applications in a single place and then allow access to content through a variety of channels, including mobile devices.


As mobile marketing evolves, so do its risks. The Federal Trade Commission last month released its updated “Dot Com” guidelines. An update long in coming — the first since the report was released in 2000 — the guidelines take special note of mobile. In short, they state that the same rules that apply to ads in newspapers, radio and television apply to mobile devices — and social media too, for that matter. All disclosures must be clear and conspicuous.
Furthermore, if a disclosure cannot be made clearly on a device or platform, then that device or platform should not be used, the FTC said.

A year or so ago, digital marketers were head over heels, breathlessly in love with QR codes. Bearing a close resemblance to Rorschach inkblot tests, QR codes quickly became ubiquitous on labels, posters, signs, magazine ads, billboards — pretty much any ad space a consumer might conceivably want to scan with a smartphone to download more information about a product or service. “We have seen a huge increase in the rate of scans in the mobile market over the past year in the U.S.,” said Justin Amendola, VP of global SMB digital strategy at Pitney Bowes.