You see it front and center in the new DROID commercials, Google knocking Apple for the iPhone’s lack of personalization as well as other inabilities. Yes, marketers have shifted the spotlight on consumer personalization over the past 2-3 years. We saw it in PCs and in consumer electronics. We saw it in web sites and recently in social networks with the explosion of social media tools built off of Twitter’s platform, like TweetDeck, People Brows’r, and Seesmic. You see it in netbooks now from big brands like HP and Sony that provide a range of colors and designs that may more closely reflect how you see yourself. And you see it in smart phones increasingly on the applications that run on them.

Mobile operators are sitting on mountains of customer information. Mobile analytics companies (many of them startups) are trying to aggregate and make sense out of reams of data that can be captured from various smart phone platforms, ad campaigns, and perhaps, carrier relationships. They want to serve it up to mobile advertisers and big consumer brands who increasingly see mobile as a critical extension of their TV and web efforts.

Millennial Media recently released their— The State of the Industry: Mobile Advertising A Survey of Over 100 Major Brands & Advertisers on Performance & Future Spend, and some interesting statistics bubbled up, so I encourage you to check it out. However, please keep in mind that the report is based on input from 100 leading media agencies, it is not based on feedback from consumer brands running mobile campaigns, nor on real consumers who view ads on mobile devices. So this is just one piece of a three part puzzle! You can find more insight around the report on Millenial Media’s blog here.

The good news, based on the report, is that agencies are increasingly getting involved in more mobile campaigns, with a third stating that mobile’s now an integrated part of their overall media mix. But, problems still exist, when nearly 90 percent of the agencies responding stated that deploying mobile as a part of a bigger campaign strategy still requires multiple partners to execute the strategy. I can tell you that’s because mobile still remains fragmented! That fragmentation means you must seek out partners on the technology side like mobile ad networks to run the campaign, on the data side such as analytics firms to analyze the metrics that you end up with, plus ad buying networks and of course application developer resources if you want to launch your campaign on more than one mobile platform (beyond the iPhone that is).

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Top Targeting Methods

According to Millennial Media, the top targeting methods for mobile advertising campaigns are geography, age, and gender in that order. Behavior is tied with gender for third and location is a close 4th. [remember 100 agencies polled, small sample size here].  I would expect that behavior and location will increasingly rise in importance going forward, especially as more personalization is introduced into mobile devices and mobile services, along with more location-based capabilities. Brands will need to have more access to that information as well to better target ad campaigns at consumers who will be more relevant and more acceptable of the ad content itself. This will be the job of mobile analytics firms who will need to sift through raw mobile consumer usage data, and not just consumer survey data. Because the later, just doesn’t cut it any more. The demand for deep survey data on mobile consumers is over. The current economic environment has accelerated that shift! Brands want to know what people are doing today, or did last week, specific to certain applications they used, locations they were at, or ads that they viewed.

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Barriers to Entry for Mobile Campaigns and Websites

Media agencies still lack the internal resources required to execute holistic mobile campaigns for their clients (the brands). I would also point out, based on my experience, that agencies focus too much internally on the mobile device itself, and not the mobile applications. So they are predisposed to do a somewhat decent job on advertising campaigns for mobile device vendors (Apple, Samsung, LG, Nokia), but depend heavily on device features and functionality still. When have you seen an agency do a great job of articulating the value proposition of mobile applications (beyond “there’s an app for that!”).

And the increasing degree of personalization sophistication coming to mobile platforms will require agencies and brands to better articulate new emerging mobile applications that will help shepherd new platforms to serve up targeted, personalized ads to the relevant eyeballs who will actually care. Otherwise they’ll click fast past it to go directly to other forms of content.

I’ll be previewing a few of the emerging firms in both the mobile analytics space as well as the brand pulse space (web and social networks, TV, and mobile) over the next month, as I’ve been spending more of my time in these areas recently.

-Randy Giusto