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Interview: Richard Wheaton of Neo@Ogilvy

wheaton2.gifRichard Wheaton is Managing Director of Neo@Ogilvy, UK. Neo@Ogilvy is one of the largest media buying organizations globally. Richard gave a presentation as part of the Mobile Advertising panel at MIPTV in which he raised some interesting points. We had a chance to talk with Richard in more detail later to get his insights into mobile advertising.

Richard, you are ultimately responsible for purchasing advertising media, and you’ve made the comment that mobile advertising is in direct competition with all other types of advertising for the advertising budget. Can you tell us what that means in practice?
Sure, this is one of the most important things for people in mobile to understand. At the end of the day, we judge everything by that right hand column of the spreadsheet – cost versus payback. Things that don’t work financially on that basis just get cut.

OK, could you summarize what you see as some of the key strong points of mobile at this time?

First is the sheer number – there are 2.5 billion mobile phones, no advertiser can ignore that.

Second is that it is with you when you go out of the house – it gives you many more chances to reach the consumer during his media consumption day. We know that there are very limited opportunities to reach any consumer, and mobile opens that up.

Moving toward the future, I think we should look at mobile and see what are its unique properties. Just replicating what you can do on the web while you move around is not really a killer application.

wheaton_quote.gifWhat do you think some of the unique properties of mobile might be?
I believe that mostly it revolves around targeting and personalization – location based targeting, demographic segmenting, targeting by device, etc. For example, I would love to be able to target TV ads according to if you owned a plasma screen- its not possible. But if I was selling a high end Sony laptop, I could target mobile subscribers who are using a high end Sony handset. Or a music brand could target people who are using handsets with MP3 capabilities.

Actually, I don’t think mobile should ever be a mass media. Why should it be if doesn’t need to? Even if you do mass marketing with mobile, it doesn’t mean you have to send the same ad to everyone at the same time.
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Do you plan similar objectives for all the ads your clients run on mobile?

Although every client brief is different, the classic first division of ads would be either “Branding” or “Direct Response”. And what I think is interesting is from a media perspective, you can really only optimize performance based on one or the other. For example, with a branding ad, you may genuinely not be seeking a click through – you may say if someone has seen the ad, that’s what we want. With others, you really want them to click and buy. So there are very different metrics, and this is important to communicate with the client upfront.

Lets talk a bit about what’s important when planning a mobile media buy.
People should understand that you never have all the answers when you’re planning. What’s important is that you set out a logical framework, you test it, and the things that work you keep doing.

The key thing is that you have enough variables so that you can optimize and get a better result. So for example if you do a media plan with just one media placement, it is very risky. The best media plans are based 80% based on experience, and 20% aimed at innovation and experimentation.

What would you say are the key limitations of mobile for advertising at the moment?
I guess the first thing is that with the very small screen means the emotional impact is less. I am sure innovators will learn to make it more powerful, but for a media plan, cinema and TV will always be more impactful.

The next would be limited available ad inventory. There really aren’t many ad networks out there giving us access to interesting inventory, though I know there are several companies starting to get into this space. I believe that actually there are quite a few good mobile sites out there, but we need the ad networks to reach out to them, let them know you can make money by putting a bit of text on your site, and then make that available to us.

Finally, there are no planning tools. In the TV or on line space we have services like Nielsen and Comscore. In the online world, if I want to know for men 30 to 40 what sites do they look at, we go to the planning tool and it spits out the top 100 sites. For my guys to know what are the best mobile sites for that group, they have to be out there surfing!

So altogether, this does leave the agency in a very “creative” position. We have clients that want to get into this, so we really have to think about it, think of what are the things we can do, and how do we make it happen.

wheaton_quote2.gifDo you have problems convincing your clients to try some experimentation with new media such as mobile?
On the contrary. What we see – and I’m hearing it from other people too – is that a focus on innovation is actually becoming a client requirement. If you are just doing the same banner ads now that you did a year ago, that raises serious questions. They are coming to conferences such as MIP, they are reading about the evolution in advertising, and they want to know what their brands should be doing.

Its great to hear that brands are looking for innovation, rather than agencies having to push it on them.
Keep in mind that part of it has to do with developments like the “Tivo phenomenon” of fast-forwarding through TV ads, which is starting to have significantly measurable effect. And boardrooms with large ad budgets are starting to ask “what is happening to my ad and what are we going to do”. So people are being forced try other things. We are definitely in the process of learning

Richard, thank you very much for your insights on mobile advertising and media buying.

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01.05.2007    Tags: ,
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