Changing channels

Rob O'Regan

THIS IS WHAT YOU'VE BEEN YEARNING FOR

One consumer, fully engaged with a short video linked to your brand, forwarding it to friends, and sharing information with you as the relationship deepens. The interaction is personal because it takes place on the most coveted consumer electronics device: a mobile phone.

If only video advertising over cell phones were that simple. In truth, the mobile marketing universe is a complex ecosystem of multiple channels, emerging technology, and an intricate web of potential partners (see “A Complex Ecosystem,” page 60). It is one in which wireless operators are morphing into media companies, advertisers are creating their own programming, and a new market of content aggregators and video service providers is popping up to assist both sides.

While brand marketers and media planners, many of whom are still cutting their digital video teeth on the Internet, view the mobile channel with some uncertainty, the prospect of highly interactive (and highly measurable) encounters with consumers has major appeal. “There's so much opportunity here that it's sometimes baffling to get your arms around the potential,” says Jon Raj, vice president of advertising and emerging media platforms for San Francisco–based Visa USA, which has been experimenting in the mobile space since 2002. “None of us has discovered the magic we can do with it.”