Pearlfinders, a company that interviews senior marketers in the US and UK, found that companies that invest heavily in paid search advertising for desktop devices are still reluctant to invest heavily in mobile, despite widespread opinion that 2011 could finally be the year of the mobile.
In conversation with senior marketing executives from established bricks and mortar brands, Hard Rock International (US), Mall of America, Oxfam America, New Jersey Nets, McDonald's Corporation and Local.com the survey found that when it comes to mobile, fairly traditional tactics were favored over bleeding edge mobile marketing techniques.
Brands underestimated smartphone ownership and focussed their mobile marketing on SMS activity, primarily tied to CRM driven promotions.
Location based services were considered to offer the simplest way to link online search with direct purchase, but there was no comment on how these services were going to be delivered. Check-in functionality and group based coupon offers were not mentioned.
Finally traffic to mobile sites was sense at the metric to base future investment on.
It seems to me from the research that whilst mobile may be useful for one off promotions, it is ultimately perceived to be too fractured a marketplace to justify a universal strategy. The rapid pace of change in mobile technology forces brands into a game of catch-up and an overall lack of data on what really works means that investment can be too costly an experiment.
Whilst Google maybe reported a 130% lift in mobile search last year, the mobile search experience is still relatively undifferentiated from desktop.
In the same way, brands are still asking themselves the question, why does anyone need to come to my mobile site?
The pressing need to differentiate is front of mind, but with no compelling event on the horizon, brand marketers seem to be sitting on the fence to find out if Microsoft/Nokia partnership can make any headway and if Google really can threaten Apple's dominance in the smartphone and apps market.