Mobile Marketer: Wearables will gain steam ahead of holiday season, digital execs say

By Alex Samuely

NEW YORK – Digital agency executives at the Mobile Marketing Summit: Wearables and Holiday Focus 2015 debated the likelihood of higher adoption rates for wearables during the upcoming holiday season, when prices will begin dropping and consumers will be searching for ways to complement their omnipresent smartphones.

During the “Agency View Panel: How Media Planning and Buying for Phones, Tablets and Wearables Will Evolve This Holiday Season” session, the executives highlighted their clients’ interest in undertaking mobile campaigns and discussed the proliferation of wearables. Although wearables such as the Apple Watch did not result in the consumer craze predicted by many experts, the holidays may culminate in a purchasing uptick of these accessories, which could prompt more brands to roll out smartwatch-friendly applications.

“Not a lot of brands are ready to start producing apps for the Apple Watch,” said Megan McCurry, senior vice president and group media director at DigitasLBI, Chicago. “I think you will see more of that as adoption rates continue to gain with the Watch itself, but a lot of clients are still trying to get their mobile app and mobile Web experiences right.”

Mobile Marketer organized the Mobile Marketing Summit: Wearables and Holiday Focus 2015.

Gearing up for holidays
Brands still have copious amounts of education to undergo before wearables become viable advertising avenues. Mobile devices continue to be a top concern for the agency executives’ clients, although some marketers may start rolling out more wearable-friendly content as consumers find themselves receiving items such as the Apple Watch as gifts.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of people asking for these accessories as gifts,” said Kristine Munsen, senior partner and managing director at Mindshare, New York. “A lot of the offerings are at a price point where the typical American household isn’t able to go out on a Tuesday and purchase them.

“I think that when the prices start coming down, you will see a greater adoption.”

While the “year of the wearable” may not have occurred to the widest extent, agency clients are still clamoring for mobile as an integral part of their campaigns and marketing initiatives.

Major companies are now taking mobile much more seriously and seeking to go beyond a simple mobile-optimized site.

Mobile is also able to help companies see where potential customers are physically going, thanks to location-based targeting picking up steam. Brands can then layer that information over the Web data they are receiving.

In turn, it becomes easier to serve users with relevant messages based on their geographic proximity to a store.

DigitasLBI’s upper-funnel clients are seeing strong measurement and results stem from mobile engagement such as prompting consumers to click on a banner to add an event to their calendar.

“One of the biggest challenges we have is making sure we have consistent experiences with mobile initiatives as well as desktop initiatives,” Mindshare’s Ms. Munsen said. “We’ve seen tremendous success in small changes, like making sure images are mobile-friendly.”

Marketers should also be preparing for one of the most lucrative advertising windows of the year: the time period between mid-November and mid-December. Mobile video will play an imperative role this season, as will deep-linking capabilities within brands’ applications.

“I think timing is really important, and offering something a little more unique to the holiday season,” Ms. Munsen said.

Mobile video power
The executives admitted that their agencies are seeing a shift to mobile video. It may not be a top tactic for mobile marketing efforts, but certainly plays a central role.

If a marketer wants to leverage mobile video to drive a purchase, it would be beneficial to roll out a clip related to product benefits or usage. Mindshare has seen strong results with that strategy, as opposed to serving consumers a three-minute video when they are simply searching for a price comparison or quick review.

Executives from Mindshare, Somo and DigitasLBI present at Mobile Marketing Summit: Holiday Focus 2015

Executives from Mindshare, Somo and DigitasLBI present at Mobile Marketing Summit: Holiday Focus 2015

“In general, there is a perceptible shift of budgets to video over display,” DigitasLBI’s Ms. McCurry said.

Lastly, although some brands may feel initial fear over the ad-blocking taking the industry by storm, it will in fact weed out irrelevant content for users and push marketers to go the extra mile in their advertising efforts.

“It’s going to take some time before it hits, but I think it’s going to force us to reevaluate the equation in how we connect with consumers,” Ms. McCurry said.

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