Rainmaker Spotlight: IAB’s Anna Bager on how interactive advertising is shaping buyer preferences

Anna Bager

Anna BagerThe Cluetrain Manifesto helped us understand the increasing importance of connections between people. Today we see this manifest in many channels, and arguably, the most misunderstood remains mobile advertising and the role of interaction. At the CFIR conference last year we had the pleasure of listening to Anna Bager from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) discuss interactive mobile advertising trends. We caught up with her to understand a little bit more about what these trends might mean for B2B marketers.

We see mobile marketing spend is expected to increase by 64% in 2014. What do you see as the global trends in mobile marketing and advertising? Or are markets more regional?
Well, mobile advertising itself is pretty much global, and what I see at IAB is also global. We have license holders and affiliates all over the world. And the same issues arise in lobbying, whether in the US or Europe: it’s all about privacy, data handling and so on. IAB pulls together a global mobile anthology on the website. Members submit their market information and revenue, and we harmonise the numbers and estimate. With estimated smartphone users due to hit 1.75 billion in 2014, mobile advertising can only get bigger and bigger.

How do you see mobile marketing affecting B2B?
Mobile should be a great platform for B2B. The border between what is professional and personal could easily blur, but at the same time, B2B marketing is very much about building relationships. Mobile has the potential to support that and to be very personal.

Who do you see as ‘ahead of the game’ in mobile marketing in B2B terms?
B2C is ahead of B2B, so it’s easier to see trends in B2C markets. They suggest that big FMCG companies are the first movers, then media and technology companies, then the retail and automotive sectors. It’s the companies that make it personal and intimate that are doing best. Financial services are not really up there, which may sound a bit odd to some people, although there are exceptions. Credit Amex is well ahead, so is Bank of America. For them, it’s not just marketing though, it’s their ‘store front’, and there are security and compliance issues.

What about healthcare? Is mobile advertising a big issue there?
Not for many hospitals! There are a lot of applications for mobile advertising in healthcare. For instance, the Nike FuelBand that tracks activity, maybe other wearables. Pharma companies are looking at the potential now too. I think there are likely to be certain aspects of health where mobile becomes really important.

We’ve really been talking about advertising and marketing as the same thing, but they’re not, are they? What do you see as the key difference in mobile?
They’re very similar, as they’re aiming at the same thing. The way I would define them is to say that advertising is ‘direct coupon’, whereas marketing is broader. So marketing is about building perception of a brand or product, and generating more loyal and engaged customers. It’s often about intimacy, which is why content marketing works so well. Content marketing fits very well with mobile, often better than something like banner advertising, which is easy to ignore. Whether or not content marketing works for your business really depends on what you’re marketing. It’s always worked best for things like fashion and beauty. But there’s plenty of potential for B2B too, where helping customers to solve problems is key now.

What do you think are the key issues for 2014 and beyond?
First of all, I think we’ll need to understand where technology is going, and how people are using it. We need to understand html, and that customers expect interactive. Television is changing too, but video is huge. Marketers need to educate journalists and editors to think more holistically. At IAB, we see the key challenge at monetising the spend on mobile. There’s a real challenge about how you measure, and particularly tracking, which is key. It’s crucial to work out how much traffic comes from which factor, and that’s really hard. The other challenge that I see is what you might describe as a ‘snacking’ mentality. Consumers like to dip in and out of different media, and not immerse themselves in just one. So we need to figure out what that means for marketers, and I don’t think anyone’s really there yet.

And what do you see as ‘the best of the old’ that we need to retain?
We’ll always need creative thinking, and strong policies will continue to be important. I think we’ll also see lawmakers taking even more of an interest in mobile, especially with the privacy issues that are being raised across the globe, so we’ll need to be really strong on that.

Follow Anna on Twitter at @annabager

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