Mobile and Digital Marketing Require More Brand Attention

One of the latest mobile advertising features being tested is Google Now’s ability to alert users when they are physically close to a product that they researched online at an earlier date. For example, if you were looking at a pair of hiking boots online, Google Now would alert you if you walked by a store containing those boots the next day. In many ways it makes shopping easier for the consumer and marketing easier for the brand. However, it wouldn’t be outrageous to consider the technology “creepy.” Some view it as just another blow in the saga to protect consumer privacy.

Most marketing experts agree that mobile and digital advertising are the wave of the future. As activity on these media continues to increase, marketers are tirelessly working to find the best strategies to engage consumers via their smartphones and tablets. However, as tactics start yielding more information about potential customers, many wonder if the industry will, at some point, push the envelope too far.

There are, of course, a plethora of reasons to make mobile and digital marketing a significant portion of a brand’s strategy. For one thing, they often provide immediate or extremely quick results, since most consumers carry their mobile phones or other digital tools on them at all times. They also make it easier to start a direct dialogue with consumers, leading to simpler engagement. It is no wonder that Gartner is predicting roughly $18 billion in mobile ad spend for 2014 and nearly $42 billion by 2017.

However, not everyone is happy with the growth. One of the latest concerns for privacy advocates is Verizon’s Relevant Mobile Advertising program. What the program does is set tracking “cookies” to users’ browsers every time they log into a Verizon site. This data is then combined with the cell phone data already collected by the company and sold to marketers. During an age in which privacy has become such a top concern for the general public, it is obvious why this could have a negative effect on a brand’s reputation.

Cyber security and its relation to mobile/digital advertising is a hot button issue as well. Earlier this month, a U.S. Senate report concluded that self-regulatory entities were not enough to protect consumers from malware and data attacks. However, organizations such as the Federal Trade Commission are yet to take action in the matter.

What does all this mean for marketers when considering privacy, reputation, and security? Unfortunately, no solid conclusion can be drawn – yet. Mobile and digital marketing have become something of a Wild West for brands, and it is up to them to decide what they are comfortable with, and what they want to hold back on. There are obviously pros to using the technology, but the most important thing is to not abuse the power. This can be done by figuring out exactly how it fits into your overall strategy.