Sorrell predicts growth for mobile marketing

11 December 2009

LONDON: Mobile marketing has a "lot of potential and power", and could prove to be particularly effective in countries like India and China, according to Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP Group.

A recent study from Magna,part of Interpublic Group, predicted "mobile marketing – well beyond advertising – will likely hold the most promise for ... commercial activation" going forward, although it is still currently in its "infancy".

The key drivers of this process, Sorrell suggested, will include the continuing rise of smartphones, and the fact that Google, the online search pioneer, is placing a heightened emphasis on this area, as evidenced by its recent purchase of AdMob.

"Mobile advertising obviously has a lot of potential and power. There's a lot of debate about whether it will take off – we think it will, driven by iPhone and Android development. Google is the push for this," Sorrell argued.

More specifically, Google's ability to create a search tool that matches its internet equivalent could encourage brands to make greater use of this channel, and thus help monetise the medium.

"Google is having a very strong time at the moment and is extremely strong. The potential they see in mobile and mobile search – they're much more focused and, therefore, more effective," Sorrell continued.

While mobile may start to gain ground in advanced nations, its real impact could well be in two key rapidly-emerging economies, where digital is currently "relatively less developed," but also has "higher potential" in the long term.

"When you have 700 million people in China on mobile, growing at eight million a month ... India growing at 12 million a month – these are markets where mobile will leapfrog PCs, unlike we've seen in the west," Sorrell asserted.

Looking elsewhere in the new media sector, WPP's ceo warned the nature of the internet offers many opportunities, but also poses significant challenges.

"The pricing models of online – and, therefore, traditional media – have been changed beyond recognition," he stated.

"The good news about online is it's one-to-one, the bad news is it's one-to-one, because it fragments the audience so much."

This trend even could even apply to Web 2.0 portals that are growing in popularity among advertisers at present, meaning they might lose this status at the same pace, as was the case with Second Life, the virtual world.

"These things are like fashion brands," said Sorrell. "You are going to get volatility. Facebook? Today. Tomorrow? Who knows? Twitter. Today. Who knows?"

Data sourced from MediaPost/Paid Content; additional content by Warc staff