At this year’s Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, arguably the industry’s biggest annual competition, featuring nearly 30,000 ads that have been entered in 10 categories, is showing signs of mobile advertising, reports USA Today. For example, The Grand Prix won by AMF Pension’s retirement campaign included a feature for people to upload their photos from their phones and get them back to show how they’ll look at age 70, and Nike and R/GA, a digital ad agency, unveiled “the Ballers Network,” a Facebook app enabling streetball basketball players to organize pick-up games via mobile devices. But the bigger message that the agencies and marketers were delivering at the event is that the mobile ad market is still a nascent market, particularly in the U.S. with more experimentation being conducted in Europe and Asia. Giovanni Maruca, director of Paramount Digital Entertainment’s mobile and interactive Europe unit, said he’s running a mobile promotion in 12 countries for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but mobile is “still very underrepresented by brands in terms of their budget. You look at the capability and the opportunity and how the budgets are being allocated, it’s laughable,” he said.
The promise of mobile is that it will offer a large audience with much better demographic information, but currently determining the return on investment is unknown because the metrics aren’t there. When it comes to the difference between the U.S. and Europe and Asia, the U.S. accounts for about a third of the global mobile ad spend, however, there’s limited creativity with most of the campaigns including text message components and banners. “The pace for mobile won’t be set in the U.S.,” said Michael Baker, Nokia’s (NYSE: NOK) VP and head of Nokia Interactive Advertising. “It’s a global medium that’s different from all other channels. It’s cost effective and usually the centerpiece of a strategy. (That’s) very different from what’s going on in the U.S., which is mini-banner ads.”