The flat economy has also dampened enthusiasm. "There are advertisers where the person at the top is blocking it, because they don't understand the space. They are risk-averse, saying we know that TV works, we know that cinema or print works, and we'll carry on doing that," said a participant.
Attitudes like these will be dangerous as the market continues to evolve, participants heard. "There's a group of people who are now adults who have had the internet all their lives. There's a big expectation difference versus older people," said one panel member. "Directors of companies need to deliberately tap into the young talent in their businesses."
Consolidation of assets is also a problem for many other businesses, said a panel member. "How do you provide an engagement model through a single platform that can help them consolidate their data, consolidate their content? The consolidation of the assets, so that they can actually build a multi-channel strategy is a problem."
"They make every asset, every piece of content work as hard as possible. If they can use it multiple ways, they do," added another.
The mobile channel is critically important, said a participant. "When I was looking at the numbers, the growth of traffic coming from mobile, the business case is now obvious."
"If you look at the mobile ad industry today, half of it is search, which works brilliantly because it's location-enabled. Advertisers can build that into their strategy, take advantage of what people want to do at the moment rather than what they might be researching for the future. Then about 90% of the rest is display advertising, little banner ads, which don't work particularly well. They have tiny click-through rates and a lot of mistaken clicks because of fat thumbs. Nobody has cracked the right format for mobile advertising. We've taken display ads from a desktop screen, and squeezed them on to a small screen," said a participant.
One alternative to mobile display ads is SMS text messages, which is basic but works well across all devices - especially important in emerging markets - and can include links to rich web content.
Opt-in geo-targeting, whereby businesses can target customers based on their proximity to a shop, is also a powerful technique, the roundtable was told, despite privacy concerns. "You're going to experience advertising whether you like it or not. Would you prefer it to be relevant and interesting for you? Most people say yes," the roundtable was told.
There was a note of caution among contributors concerning mobile campaigns which win design awards but do not in fact reach a wide audience, of which there were examples at a recent marketing event attended by on participant. "They had great campaigns but they reached 10,000 people globally. That's not best practice for me."
All too often, organisations are missing even the low-hanging fruit by not having a website optimised for mobile. "Think about how you are going to create multi-channel content mobile-first, but scalable backward, don't think desktop-first," said one expert.
"Companies are already thinking about the death of the PC. People, even when they get home, will use a simple dock. It won't be, fire up my PC, does Windows boot up? There's a lot more disruption that's going to come over the next few years."
Even within mobile there are different targets. "You've got very different audiences on smartphone, feature phone and tablet," a panel member observed.
The main barrier to effective multi-channel marketing is not technical, the panel heard. "There's nothing we can't come up with. Technology is not a barrier," said a panel member. Cloud computing supports massive scalability, so that campaigns which go viral do not run out of resources.
The issue is more to do with the way campaigns are conceived. It is not only about mobile-first, but also breaking down silos so that all the key skills, knowledge and even budgets are brought together. "The way that we configure our idea engineering teams is with strategy people, creatives, technology people and delivery people. The only way you can deal with this stuff is by reframing what technology is," said one participant. "It's not the way you get the idea out, it's part of how the idea's made. The possibilities of technology must be encoded into the process at the beginning."
"[We] all have to restructure our businesses," said a participant. "But I think we'll get there. We will evolve."
Consumers will often research products they find in-store on a mobile device before making a purchase Photograph:
Most Popular Stories
- 15 Myths That Could Ruin Your Hispanic Ad Campaign
- General Motors Names Mary Barra as First Female CEO
- Cold Dis-comfort: Antarctica Set Record of -135.8
- Obama Delivers Speech at Mandela Memorial: Transcript
- Uruguay Gets Ready for Legal Marijuana
- Oldaker Takes Center Stage at Entrepreneur Awards
- Slow Week Ahead of December FOMC Meeting
- Hispanics Seek to Grow School Board Members
- Russia Says Nyet to Canada North Pole Claim
- 'Knockout Game': Myth or Menace?