Evil cat manipulates humans into liking him
After 20 years working in mobile advertising and mobile marketing, it still amazes me how many brands think banner ads and building an app are a necessity, even when it makes little sense. Focusing on apps and banner ads for advertising and marketing is like having a pet cat, and I’ll explain why.

Benefits of owning a pet:

  1. Pets provide unconditional love and companionship.
  2. Pets can protect us from intruders and fire.
  3. They teach us compassion and responsibility.
  4. Pets can be a valuable means towards exercise and social engagement.

The reasons for engaging in mobile are also obvious:

  1. 91% of American adults own a cell phone.
  2. 79% of people have their phone within arms reach more than 22 hours a day.
  3. 10x coupon redemption rate compared to traditional marketing channels
  4. 50% of mobile users have scanned a QR code

When you focus on what people decide to do in mobile, or which type of pet they decide to own, often times logic tends to get thrown out the door. Brands may opt for the sexier option rather than the proven solution, just as a cute kitten can easily trick a pet lover into a lifetime of mildly-satisfying cat ownership. Let’s think about the goals of marketing and see how well apps and banner ads address those goals. Then, we’ll talk about the goals of owning a pet and see how well cats do (or do not) address those goals.

Goals of marketing

The goal of marketing and advertising is to measurably build relationships with your customers, drive sales, and create lifelong brand advocates and consumers.

These goals are all possible, but done with a startling lack of efficiency wow gold.

It’s like teaching a cat to fetch – possible, but very hard, extremely time consuming, and probably with suboptimal results.

Every consumer brand wants and needs to be in mobile. The end goal for marketers is CRM (Customer Relationship Marketing), because it creates lifetime customers that can be re-marketed to and developed into brand ambassadors.

Ads and apps are not about results

Marketers look at the options they have in mobile messaging, and although mobile messaging consistently  outperforms other channels, it is still not aesthetically pleasing when it comes to display. The pretty options are banners and rich media units, but no matter how many times someone tells us how effective teeny banners are when they expand, anyone who has a job other than selling them must be able to stop and really think about it: You can always marginally improve performance, but these ads are not CRM, they don’t build relationships, and no one is going to become a brand ambassador as a result of a single image. Since the downsides of banner ads and rich media are so large, it forces brands to switch the conversation to apps vs. mobile web for CRM. This conversation is not a good one.

So marketers turn to building apps. They are big, they are pretty, and when people have them, they initially use them; you can even push updates to them. It all makes sense on the surface, in the same way this kitten makes you want to forget everything you know to be true about cats, and adopt him immediately. But you should know better, and here’s why.

Apps are rarely worth it

Let’s look a little deeper: According to research by Nielsen, The average commercial-level app costs upwards of $270,000 and takes 7 months to a year to build. Most (73%) of mobile internet users actively use between 1-10 apps, and nearly half of those only use 1-5 apps. Of those apps, 88% are search, portals, and social, 37% are games/entertainment, 27% are communication, and 15% productivity tools. Only 6% of time on apps is spent in commerce or shopping.

Mobile messaging is easy money

The bigger issue is that many brands are actually doing damage by not seeing what is directly in front of them: SMS and MMS. Consider these stats:

  • 54% of all smartphone users have signed up for text messages from a business website or mobile app (this is equal to email)
  • 91% of these people found the service useful
  • 96% of smartphone users regularly use SMS
  • 75% of people prefer receiving advertising via SMS
  • 98% of texts are read vs. 20% of emails
  • 90% of SMS messages are read in minutes with average response time of 90 seconds

Bringing it back to cats

Sure, cats can be cute, but if you consider the potential  benefits of pet ownership, cats don’t really check many of the boxes– and the ones that they do check, they don’t do well. A cat’s love is entirely conditional (their love is almost entirely contingent on your ability to stock Fancy Feast); they do not protect you from intruders or fire; they teach us nothing but disdain for those closest to us, and ask any spinster about the social engagement and exercise factor. On average, cats sleep 17 hours a day.

To sum it all up, while kittens are cute, and banner ad networks and apps are appealing, getting real ROI on your campaign (or pet) will come from messaging, mobile CRM, and probably dogs.

So, go get yourself a nice chocolate lab and I will meet you at the dog park. We can discuss a mobile messaging strategy while our dogs play, as pets should. You can text me when you get there.

Ready to learn more about mobile messaging with Waterfall? Schedule a quick demo with us!

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Safko, Lon. “Keynote Salesforce international speaker: The Social Media Bible” The Fusion Marketing Bible & SafkoWheel.

Formotus, Glen. “Figuring the Cost of Custom Mobile App Development” Kinvey Report. November 2014 http://www.formotus.com/14018/blog-mobility/figuring-the-costs-of-custom-mobile-business-app-development>

“Number of Apps available in leading App Stores.” Statista 2014. http://www.statista.com/statistics/276623/number-of-apps-available-in-leading-app-stores/

Bernstein, Mark. “10 Tips on Writing the Living Web.” A List Apart: For People Who Make Websites. A List Apart Mag., 16 Aug. 2002. Web. 4 May 2009.

Marshall, Chelsea. “82 Astounding Facts about Cats.” Buzzfeed. http://www.buzzfeed.com/chelseamarshall/meows#.av63OqQAl

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