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Gap exec reveals more aggressive mobile budget plans for 2012

SAN FRANCISCO ? A Gap executive at the Mobile Shopping Summit said that the mobile phone is an ideal canvas to engage consumers with and for that reason his company will have a more aggressive budget allocated to the medium next year.

During the ?Advertising Budgets: Is Mobile Advertising Already Delivering?? session, panelists discussed how companies are gradually turning to mobile to get consumers in their locations. The panel was moderated by Bernadine Wu, CEO of FitForCommerce, New York.

?We planted a foot in the mobile space around 2010 and we put a lot of effort in building our mobile property,? said Nick Sheth, director of business development at Gap Inc., San Francisco.

?In terms of advertising, we?ve done some banner advertising more specifically to drive traffic to our mobile apps,? he said. ?We love mobile.?

Mobile budget
Mr. Sheth said that it is important to set aside money for a mobile budget.

Although many are not doing so, mobile is continuing to grow at an exponential pace and brands need to set aside money to help grow their business.

?Next year, we?re going to propose a more aggressive mobile budget,? Mr. Sheth said. ?For most multichannel retailers, mobile is a single-digit percentage of your sales.

?We see some really amazing things with mobile,? he said. ?For example during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, retailers saw huge spikes in mobile usage ? especially because folks are constantly on the move and trying to find deals in the stores.?

Mr. Sheth also said that it is important to make an email campaign mobile-optimized.

More consumers are accessing their email via their mobile device. Companies should take that into consideration when sending consumers an email.

In addition, if the email has a link, it should redirect customers to a mobile landing page. It is all about creating consistency and simplicity for the consumer.

?Our customers are reading their emails on their mobile devices,? Mr. Sheth said. ?And it caused us to look at our email campaigns.

?Basic usability is really changing the way that people interact with us,? he said. ?At the end of the day, we?re doing this to make money.?

Petco rolled out its mobile site in November 2010, but it initially planned to release it in 2011.

?We decided that we needed to be in the space,? said Katie Grisko, Web strategy manager at Petco, San Diego. ?Mobile advertising for us is trying to figure out what works for us.

?Mobile advertising is a single digit of the overall marketing spend,? she said. ?I think that down the road, digital advertising is going to become part of that media buying and media spend like TV and radio spots.?

Ms. Grisko said that tracking is very important.

For example, if consumers are accessing a brand?s mobile site and then going back to the full site, Petco looks at what they are searching on the full site as opposed to mobile.

If those features are not on the mobile site, then they should be incorporated in it.

?It gives you a good way to see where your mobile site is making gains,? Ms. Grisko said.

Neil Strother, practice director of mobile marketing strategies and mobile services at ABI Research, Kirkland, WA, said that the frequency of consumer purchases is more consistent.

?You have to look at what your contacts or prospects are doing with mobile,? Mr. Strother said.

?Are they coming to your site and on what type of device?? he said. ?There?s no one size fits all here.

?You have to step back and see where your customers are and from there things follow a natural path.?

Mr. Strother said that companies do not need to try everything at once.

?Test, test and test,? Mr. Strother said. ?Mobile is here, it?s not coming later.

?Your goal is SMS ? sell more stuff,? he said. ?Follow your audience.?

Final Take
Gap is no stranger to mobile