What is holding back mobile advertising?

 In advertising

Following on from my post and review of a recent Nielsen Mobile report, I read their September 2008 report “Realizing Potential: Overcoming Barriers to the U.S. Mobile Advertising Market” which contains a section outlining what they believe is holding mobile advertising back.

I read this part of the report and kept saying “yes, yes yes” back to the screen.

In summary, Nielsen mobile believe there are 3 key issues that are holding mobile advertising back (see page 7 of the report):

1) Unawareness of audience size. Advertisers and agencies aren’t yet fully aware of the sizes of mobile content audiences, particularly at the channel level.

London Calling translation – Nielsen and others have not sold enough mobile metrics packages yet and there are not enough mobile measurement methods out there.  If these were in place It may actually scare some people because mobile metrics have the potential to be an order of magnitude more accurate that the current diary systems for TV and radio audience measurement.  I have seen some great work from ComScore M:Metrics that actually measures what the mobile consumer does in real time – no need for a diary system.

2) Complexity of the ecosystem. For those marketers who do recognize the reach potential of mobile, many are reluctant to enter into the space because they see it as a complex marketing environment with a steep learning curve and technical hurdles that reduce the efficiency of the ad buy.

London Calling translation – it’s all too hard! Put a TVC on during Coronation street and watch the product fly off the shelves! What I am seeing is that large agencies are now recruiting heads of mobile, ensuring there is a “go to” person to solve these issues and challenges.  Also, mobile operators are hiring from the ad community to ensure that the issues facing traditional advertisers can be addressed for mobile.

3) Lack of trust in the medium. We believe advertisers are fundamentally reluctant to enter into mobile due to a lack of trust in the mobile advertising medium. They don’t trust consumer receptivity, they don’t trust ROI and they don’t trust their ability to track performance.

London Calling translation –  there are few success stories so who should the advertisers and agencies actually believe?

What really hit home for me was the comment at the end of this section of the report that said

“The saying rightly goes, ‘nobody was fired for buying television advertising.’ With standardized processes and built-in impressions guarantees, television is a medium that can be efficient and its results, measurable.”

Now while the aim of the report is to sell more Nielsen Mobile measurement services, the issues they raise are genuine and will resonate with many in the mobile advertising ecosystem.

The issues I raised in a recent post: The impedance effect of the mobile industry hold true here also.  As an industry, mobile advertisers need to make mobile easy for advertisers and brands to utilise.

Mobile is probably the most powerful advertising channel available today, but we need to overcome the issues raised by Nielsen above and take the industry forward.


Based in London, The Actionable Futurist and former Global Managing Partner at IBM, Andrew Grill is a popular and sought-after presenter and comementator on issues around digital disruption, workplace of the future and new technologies such as blockchain. Andrew is a multiple TEDx and International Keynote Speaker.