SMB Digital 2012: SMBs’ Mobile Needs Vary Widely

The “Making Sense of Mobile Advertising for SMBs” panel at SMB Digital Marketing 2012 was aptly named, as the mobile needs of small businesses vary widely by category and level of sophistication, among other dynamics. Dick Larkin (VP, American Marketing & Publishing), Mary Beth Brendza (CEO, App Express) and Henry Tam (VP Self-Serve Advertising, Millenial Media) each showcased distinct products that may appeal to different SMBs depending on their position on the adoption curve.

For Larkin, whose American Marketing & Publishing still prints directories in 500 small communities, simplicity is the imperative. His mobile solution is a dead-simple text service that’s as easy as “customer subscribes to a merchant, receives texts from that merchant.” Too rudimentary? Not in rural markets, where mobile adoption is slower and SMBs demand clear technology. The product is sold by print reps at $995 annually, with ample “coaching” built in. The results over the past 14 months: 4100 customers, $3.9 million revenue.

Brendza also believes in simplicity and guidance for SMBs, but with a focus on the app market. App Express is DIFM (not DIY), and at $75-$100 per month, builds out Apple and Android apps, as well as a single-page, HTML-5 mobile websites for resellers’ clients. The obvious question is, “do SMBs really need apps?” Brendza’s answer: the majority of user time on mobile is spent in-app. Moreover, apps provide a deeper level of feature functionality for SMBs, from scheduling to deals and invoicing.

At the far end of the continuum is Millenial Media, the independent mobile ad network colossus that launched a self-serve local ad service to capture SMBs. The platform includes hyper-local geo-targeting that Tam says “can cut across actual neighborhoods.” He showed a map that plotted ad placements for a recent local campaign to prove that precision targeting was indeed precise. The service began with CPC pricing, but will soon add CPM buys for greater simplicity.

While each product falls at a different point on the mobile sophistication curve, a common thread tying all three together is pricing simplicity: flat rates, easy-to-understand bundles and CPMs.

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