Specialist mobile agencies yet to find a place

17 August 2010

NEW YORK: Agency networks are adopting varied approaches when establishing the exact position of mobile marketing specialists within their corporate structures.

Omnicom Group, the US holding company, unveiled a new consultancy focusing on this area in late July 2010, operating under the title of Airwave.

It reported that this division will be attached to its media wing OMD, due to the potential crossover between these two elements of its output.

"Mobile is bought in many of the same ways that digital media is bought, but it stretches across coupons, CRM, texts and out of home," Jon Haber, US director of OMD's Ignition Factory, told Advertising Age.

"It bleeds into all other media types. An agency like OMD touches other media units, so it makes sense for mobile to be in-house so it can integrate into everything from TV to digital."

While OMD's remit has not traditionally encompassed creative work, it did take on lead agency duties to deliver a "shakable" ad for the iPhone on behalf of apparel brand Dockers in 2009.

Haber suggested the shift towards forming independent functions relating to this emerging marketing channel is essentially a reflection of the increased interest among clients and consumers in this medium.

"In an agency world where things are based on fees and commissions, to have standalone units, you have to have a certain amount of money going through to justify having staff on it," he said.

Mullen, which is owned by Interpublic Group, similarly rolled out a dedicated mobile arm in early August that will be affiliated with MediaHub, which is responsible for handling planning and buying.

However, Brenna Hanly, who will be heading up the Mullen's activity in this field, is primarily linked to Mullen's main creative team.

"A lot of mobile ideas have stemmed from the media teams, but I think more and more the creative and account teams need to know what's possible," she said.

"I'm going to be sitting on the creative floor rather than working with the media buyers. I am going to be a catalyst to foster mobile creative thinking."

Elsewhere in IPG's portfolio, DraftFCB recently announced it would be utilising wireless technology solutions developed by Dublin-based firm Velti.

But the agency will employ the tools on a case-by-case basis instead of allocating them to a separate part of the business.

"By virtue of setting up as an external agency or as an outsourced contract relationship, you're bolting it on to the side of whatever you're doing, as opposed to weaving it in collaboratively from the beginning," said Patrick Moorhead, vp, and director-mobile platforms at DraftFCB.

"The fact that an agency wants to add a few bodies of people to focus on buying display advertising in and around mobile content doesn't surprise me very much … It also doesn't strike me as very innovation-driven."

Publicis Groupe also established mobile shop Phonevalley in 2001.

The unit now resides within VivaKi, which was itself introduced in 2008 and also houses Starcom MediaVest, ZenithOptimedia and Razorfish.

Data sourced from AdAge; additional content by Warc staff