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Mobile Commerce rushing to Interactive Agencies

2009 October 19

For better or worse, I’m seeing a clear trend. Companies interested in exploring mobile commerce are looking to their existing agency relationships first (e.g. Digital Agencies, Interactive Agencies, Ad Agencies, etc.).

Many executives I’ve spoken with explain that they’re going to their agencies first because they have existing retainers that they can leverage. In these tough times it’s often hard to get new budget for technology with as many unknowns as mobile.

I also think companies are looking to Interactive Agencies because mobile initiatives are mostly being driven by marketing groups. Technology organizations are clamoring to do mobile work, but their budgets have been slashed and they have little or no experience with mobile. Then again, few interactive agencies have experience with mobile either, but it’s easier for them to fake it than an internal IT staff (sorry, folks!).

This is generally the same pattern we saw in ecommerce. Companies went to interactive firms to build fluffy, nice-looking web sites that didn’t do much other than deliver brand messages. As internal skills increased and ROIs were more defensible, organizations brought ecommerce in-house.

Mobile commerce is in that same pre-teen stage of do-nothing brand messaging. Most mobile commerce apps are glitzy and fun, but don’t do much actual commerce. Mobile commerce seems to focus more on “engagement” right now.

I think this means companies haven’t figured out how to monitize mobile commerce, and they’re staking a claim while they figure it out.

It’s time for me to go play the VW Polo Racing game my 10 year old put on my iPhone.

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