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IAB Mobile Marketplace: Mobile edges to center stage, but with issues

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New York—The world of advertising is turning its focus to mobile, as mobile devices have become integral to how people conduct their personal and professional lives, said Randall Rothenberg, president-CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, kicking off the association's IAB Mobile Marketplace conference and expo here today. “Mobile not only is in the mainstream, it is the new mainstream,” Rothenberg said. “You can't get much closer to your customers than the palms of their hands, inside their purses or pockets, or ingrained in the fabric of their daily lives.” IAB's conference is serving as the “official coming-out party” of its new Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, Rothenberg said of the independently funded unit inside the association, which was introduced in December. He said the center's goals are to unify standards and best practices of mobile advertising, and to promote their use. The center has its work cut out for it, said Anna Bager, VP-general manager of the center. “It's not entirely clear yet how to monetize the use of mobile advertising, even though there is clear interest,” Bager said. “Also, agencies and marketers don't understand it as much as they could; the supply chain is not entirely configured with metrics and standards; and mobile public policy is lagging.” Nevertheless, Bager said, mobile devices constitute “the remote-control of our lives,” and “increase the take-up of other media,” she said. This theme was extended by featured keynote speaker Heather Hopkins Freeland, CMO of luxury online retailing site Gilt City. “Smartphones are one of the most intimate devices that ever existed,” Freeland said. “The only other things that are with you all times of the day are your keys and wallet, and soon they'll be on mobile devices as well.” Freeland said marketers need to be aware of mobile usage, which gradually increases toward the end of workdays and spikes sharply on weekends. She also said downloaded apps are potent entrées to customer relations. “Marketers need to think about going beyond that transaction,” Freeland said. “If you convince somebody to download your app, you've been given permission to access the most precious real estate in the world, the device that's in their pocket. But you won't keep that permission unless you add value to their lives.”
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