The Future Of Mobile Advertising Is In Pull, Not Push

We brought 4INFO founder and CEO Zaw Thet, VP of Groupon Mihir Shah and Brand In Hand founder John Hadl together to talk about their experiences in mobile marketing here at TechCrunch Disrupt, on a panel moderated by TechCrunch’s own Jason Kincaid.

Panel moderator Jason Kincaid began the panel with the classic mobile marketing example of a consumer having a phone in their pocket and having a push notification give them an alert that there’s a frozen yogurt discount nearby.

Shah, Thet and Hadl all agreed that this hypothetical usecase of hyper-local targeted marketing was not in the cards, with the industry focusing more on advertising against that the consumer wants as opposed to offering up random discounts and ads based on what’s nearby.

Thet expressed the primary difficulty of  hyper-targeted push mobile ads being fragmentation, that it was really difficult to take the million dollar budget for a client like Tide and apply it to a micro scale. “I don’t need to give an offer to someone on their car, just because it’s in the area,” says Hadl, “there’s no demand for it, it’s not that there’s not tech.”

Kincaid also brought up the famous Carol Bartz quote about Apple’s iAds, “That’s going to fall apart for them. Advertisers are not going to have that type of control over them. Apple wants total control over those ads,” and asked the panel whether they thought this was true.

The panel agreed that price rather than control was this issue with iAds; “Some people can’t afford them,” said Hadl, “Everyone likes to shoot at the front runner, but the only thing that people really have a problem with is pricing.” This is interesting especially in light of recent reports that iAds is slowly encroaching in Google’s mobile share.

The panel also agreed that biggest problem faced by the mobile ads industry currently is that supply greatly out weighs demand, and Hadl hopes that demand will increase based on better targeting.

Thet brought up a resolution to the transition that mobile marketing is currently experiencing; While the usecase of walking by a Starbucks and having a coupon ping to your phone is not viable, mobile ads on apps like Citysearch and Yelp, where consumers are actually looking for services and products could be hugely profitable. Says Shah,“You need to figure out where your users and engagement is.”

Thet also added that developers interesting in taking advantage of the growing mobile ad space should try to connect to consumers in more interesting ways, “Don’t be scared to do more than a 20-50 banner. interruptive advertising does work on the mobile. It’s got to be more than just the banner.”