For Marketers Social Media Soars, Mobile and Gaming Lag

E-mail, Search Remain the Interactive Marketing Channels to Watch in 2007

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NEW YORK ( -- What emerging channels will nab the most marketer interest this year? Despite the hype around tactics such as mobile and gaming, adoption of those areas is still low, according to a Forrester survey of interactive marketers.
Of all the emerging interactive media, Forrester says mobile is a better bet for most marketers than gaming.
Of all the emerging interactive media, Forrester says mobile is a better bet for most marketers than gaming.

Perhaps it's a case of marketers not always putting their money where their mouths are, because much buzzed-about areas such as mobile and gaming aren't, as Forrester analyst Brian Haven puts it in his report, getting much love from the interactive ad budgets. Less sexy staples such as e-mail and search remain strong -- more marketers will use them in 2007 than in previous years -- and because they're the most measurable and the most indispensable, Mr. Haven adds.

RSS, blog use climb
If marketers have been slow to jump on mobile and gaming, social media is a different story. The category has grown quickly over the past 12 months to the point where 40% of marketers are using or piloting RSS, up from 10% last year, and 34% are use or piloting blogs, up from 13% in the 2006 study. Social networks have the slowest adoption of all social media tactics but still notched 20% penetration in terms of marketer use.

"When we talked last year, we saw the trend build but our recommendation at the time was 'it's still OK to hold of,'" Mr. Haven told Advertising Age regarding social media technologies. "But now consumers are leaving marketers behind and the advice now is this is not a fluke behavior -- it's the way things are going and it's time for marketers to take decent strides into social computing technologies."

The gaming lag didn't really surprise Mr. Haven. For the most part it targets a younger, more sophisticated audience. "If you're brand isn't already targeting that type of audience it's difficult to make the justification" to get into gaming, he said. Mobile, he said, comes down to devices -- what the hardware is capable of.

Mobile's a better bet
The report says that of all the technologies marketers aren't using right now, mobile is more promising overall than gaming. As for the hype around mobile, he likens it to the buzz that enveloped blogs in 2002 -- there was a lot of talk but most companies were too afraid to get started.

"One of the key things marketers are looking for is examples of others using the tech but nobody will use the tech until they have an example," Mr. Haven said. "It's a Catch 22 and one of the reasons marketers aren't getting involved yet."

Not surprisingly, better proof of performance will most likely get marketers to spend more on emerging channels, but as Mr. Haven points out in the report, "consumers are moving so quickly into emerging media that marketers can't keep up." Marketers, he said, need to increase their own familiarity with these channels.

The report essentially warns marketers that if they don't start adopting new channels this year, they will fall behind, and it recommends that marketers who haven't yet tried out RSS feeds or blogs begin to do so and that they start behavioral and contextual targeting immediately. Evaluation of emerging channels should be on a case-by-case basis, and marketers need to constantly monitor what kinds of emerging media customers are using to stay ahead of the game.
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