NEW YORK: Brands and agencies must find new ways of reaching consumers at scale on mobile, according to a leading marketer from AT&T.

Esther Lee, the company's svp/brand marketing, advertising and sponsorships, told delegates at the M1 Mobile-First Summit that most marketing on this channel remained "tactical" at present.

"There's so much experimentation going on out there," said Lee. (For more, including why many consumers feel "overwhelmed" by wireless technology, read Warc's exclusive report: AT&T tackles the mobile dichotomy.)

While these ideas are often "really, really great" on their own terms, she continued, the overarching goal for firms like AT&T necessarily involves reaching a far wider set of consumers than is currently the case as a rule.

"We've talked a lot about these tactics … but that does not scale. And for a company like ours that spends a lot of money on marketing, we've got to figure out how to scale," said Lee.

Typically, mobile marketing extends across a diverse array of platforms, posing a challenge for practitioners in terms of quantifying the number of people reached and the cumulative impact of a campaign.

"I have to add all of that up; it's a lot of effort without getting quite the impact that we need on a scale level," said Lee.

In response to these obstacles, brands regularly opt to put the major social media services at the heart of their mobile initiatives, in the knowledge that they offer access to a concentrated base of users.

"A lot of mobile marketing right now is really in the social media space, and rightfully so, because there's so much conversation with consumers directly going on there," said Lee.

"I think that's the reason people gravitate to the Twitters and Facebooks: because there's at least scale there."

Helping organisations like AT&T build upon such initiatives with more holistic programmes is an area where agencies should step up.

"We already have quite large challenges in just integrating ourselves across business units, across activities, across the year," Lee asserted.

"What we don't actually have the same amount of time to do, and we expect our partners to do, is to integrate on the marketing side."

Many agencies, she reported, are undoubtedly expert in "analogue" or individual digital channels, but have to sharpen their skills when it comes to fostering integrated campaigns, rather than providing "matching luggage".

"Bridging" the silos in expertise and execution is thus vital. "For a company as large as we are, and as a marketing group that's as large as we are, that's probably one of our biggest challenges right now," said Lee.

Data sourced from Warc