Ten Reasons Why Mobile Advertising Has Not Reached Its Potential

Reason #9: Old Wine in New Bottles

Earlier in my career, I was the head of Walt Disney Records.  In our audio archives, we had a truly wonderful and timeless collection of children’s music that represented most of the nursery rhymes, word games and standard songs that parents loved singing to, and with, their kids.  One of our product managers came up with the idea of repackaging that music in a more contemporary CD case and reselling it to a whole new generation of parents.  He called the strategy “Old Wine in New Bottles” as the older recordings were high quality, and the new packaging for the CD was necessary because no one purchased cassette tapes anymore.

While an effective strategy for compact discs (that collection went on to sell millions of copies), “Old Wine in New Bottles” has been a less than effective strategy when it comes to new media.  Back in the mid-1900s, when television started to catch on, programming executives were trying to figure out what people would enjoy watching in the new medium.  The initial solution was to repackage old popular radio personalities and radio shows for the TV set.  So, the new TV audiences were treated to watching the talking heads of radio hosts, in essence, doing visual radio shows. 

That didn’t go over very well.

We now realize that the television has a number of unique attributes that radio doesn’t have – among them, the ability to actually see something. Doesn’t it seem so simple, now?  Don’t you just wonder how the early TV execs could be so blind what is unique about TV, and the need to design programming to take advantage of those attributes?  Of course, new industry executives are much smarter now and would not make that mistake again.

Think again. 

Think to the repurposed television content, concepts and programming constructs that made its way to the computer and Internet 1.0.  And think about how they didn’t work either. Why?  The internet had a number of unique attributes that television didn’t have – among them, the ability to actually engage in a two-way interactive experience rather than a one-way broadcast experience.

So that brings us to mobile.  And, the temptation to put “Old Wine in the Mobile Bottle” is still too strong for many of our colleagues to ignore, despite the fact that the mobile device has a rather lengthy list of attributes (and limitations) that are not prevalent on the computer. And with mobile, we are not just talking about programming content and models for content, but also developing creative advertising executions and models, revenue models, and unique mobile experiences that are only possible and can be best monetized on the mobile phone. 

The mobile app is among the first of those paradigm changing examples.  And what a great success it has been, so far. 

When the entire mobile advertising industry begins to innovate as well, and take advantage of the uniqueness that is mobile, then we will begin to see the extent of mobile advertising’s potential.  Until then, make sure you enjoy your wine from its original bottle.

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Filed under mms, mobile, mobile advertising, sms, Uncategorized, wireless

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