Today I met Sir Martin Sorrell, the head of WPP, the advertising conglomerate with $14 billion of revenues each year.
(Ogilvy, JWT, Grey, and Hill & Knowlton are all WPP companies)
One of the topics we discussed was mobile advertising, an area which keeps getting talked about in China because of the huge numbers of mobile users and the potential for them to "leapfrog" the conventional route of buying PCs to access the internet.
It is far cheaper, in China, just to get the internet on your phone and there are already millions of people doing that, as the huge number of mobile QQ instant chat users testifies.
Google was very bullish on mobile advertising, before it ran into trouble, and WPP has a company, iconmobile, which is devoted just to mobile.
However, this is what Sir Martin had to say:
"We’ve been a bit disappointed by how slow it has been to date, but it may have been the inability of mobile operators and handset makers to….[pause] You know, putting alpha males in a room together is not easy. So the real challenge is putting it together in a much more cohesive way."
He says with Android phones and iPhones now entering the market, there should be more stimulus for mobile advertising, but "the honest answer is that it is in its infancy".