It is good to remind ourselves from time to time what we started out to do. And to anyone who visits the website of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) that mission is visible right up front—to establish mobile as the indispensible marketing platform. At a time when the lines between what is mobile and what isn’t are blurring, we need to keep revisiting this mission to stop ourselves from getting distracted by the flux in the industry.

Whatever the size of the display, we need to assert the fact that people’s mobile behavior is unique and differs greatly than that seen on the internet. And so mobile marketing is not about taking what works on the internet and adapting it to mobile internet. It’s about what works on mobile. They are not the same things. The MMA is in the unique position to be able to assert this fact. It was already a stretch for advertising and marketing agencies to go beyond television and print to think digital. To get to mobile from digital is a further stretch. It is tempting to assume that “mobile internet” equals mobile. One could not be more wrong.

It is currently fashionable to simplify all mobile advertising to ad networks and talk about huge “inventory”. The other idea that has everyone captivated is the apps.  The numbers are attractive, the apps even more so. Sure, there is a market for them, and they make for an interesting sub-platform for marketing. However, personalised push-messages to opted-in consumers deliver results that are often ten- or hundred-fold compared to previous formats. We as an industry should develop solutions that work and not just try to chase the ‘next big thing’.

In fact, this chase of the ‘next big thing’ is something I find quite counter-productive. I have been involved with mobile marketing since 1997 and not a year has passed without our industry declaring that the next year will be the Year of Mobile Marketing. This ‘miracle drug’ approach has backfired and it has created cynicism and confusion both in media and in the marketing industry.

Mobile marketing has already done great things. There are thousands and thousands of great examples of how mobile marketing has changed the way business is done today.  Our industry should be proud of things already achieved, especially in APAC. We should naturally welcome all new avenues to advertising revenues from mobile marketing industry, but leave it to that. There is no need to hype them as is done today. The unavoidable disappointments from advertisers will simply backfire on the entire industry.

The fact is that mobile is a different animal. It is a personal device that needs personal engagement. It needs to speak to the basic necessities of a person—the urge to communicate, the need for entertainment, the urgency of being updated on what’s happening in the world. It is important to make it simple for these needs to be satisfied rather than a particular format’s agenda to be pushed. Because you can only push it so far.  The consumers will only do what comes to them most naturally, even if they get swayed by the novelty of something temporarily.

Those who understand this are on their way to making the MMA mission come alive. To me, the keyword in that mission is ‘indispensible’. Have you developed something that is ‘indispensible’ for mobile? Something that takes the ‘mobility’ of the mobile, combines it with unparalleled ability to personalisation and the basic needs I mentioned above and creates out of these something that makes it imperative for the consumer.

The MMA needs to play a pivotal role in this since it is best placed to do it. It needs to push for the measurement of the efficacy of the various mobile marketing models so that the industry knows what is working. It needs to remain open to new ideas and avoid getting drawn into specific agendas and camps.

Mobile is the future for marketing indeed and as a forum for this platform, MMA needs to help the members push the envelope and try out different engagement models. But at the end of the day, we must all remember—the consumer is still the king. He doesn’t care what platform we are pushing. All he cares about is the experience. We would do well to keep that in mind at all times.