January 19, 2011, 10:17 AM

Mobile marketing will find its stride in 2011, though ‘app-athy’ may set in, Forrester says

Forrester Research predicts the stars will align for mobile marketing this year.

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“The year of mobile” has been bantered about every year for the last five or so years, but 2011 could be the breakthrough year for mobile marketing, a new report from Forrester Research Inc. says. Forrester analyst Melissa Parrish has issued a list of mobile predictions for 2011 that says mobile is poised for major investment, but that challenges persist in reporting standards and consumer privacy. And she says marketers may have to rethink the value of mobile apps.

34% of online marketers had or were planning to have a mobile presence in 2010, while consumers continued to briskly adopt smartphones as the primary mobile device, and both those trends help set the stage for mobile marketing’s advancement in 2011, Parrish says. But marketers may reconsider their mobile strategies in 2011 as consumers and marketers shake out the cost-benefit analysis of 2010’s hot mobile story: mobile apps.

“Marketers will become app-athetic,” Parrish writes. “Consumers aren’t impressed with apps that provide little utility and only clutter up their phone decks.” In 2011, marketers will have to rethink how they measure the return on investment of mobile apps, she says, because the number of times an app is downloaded isn’t a good measure of success. Research shows that while people may download a lot of apps, many are soon deleted or are never used again. “Branded apps that don’t provide a reason to return will fall off,” Parrish says.

Parrish also predicts that marketers will continue to face challenges in measuring the ROI of their mobile search and advertising programs. A lack of mobile advertising standards will make it hard for marketers to prove the value of mobile investments. Parrish advises mobile marketers keep their ad programs and investments streamlined so that what data is available can be interpreted more easily.

She also predicts there will be more focus on ensuring the privacy of consumers who participate in location-based services such as Foursquare and Gowalla. Online privacy will be a hot topic in Washington and in legislatures around the world in 2011, so retailers must try to avoid any missteps by clearly stating privacy policies up front, she says.

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