Friday, April 01, 2005

Mobile Marketing, It's Coming

From Mobile marketing : a mobile response .

How many of us have used our mobiles to vote to kick out a contestant on Big Brother? How about trying to win some cash by answering questions on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? The answer is quite a few of us, and advertisers are catching on.

The use of mobile phones, especially for texting, is rising as part of our everyday TV consumption. Just five years ago we were staring passively at the TV; now we are being invited to take part.

Yet, despite the huge success of these programmes and the ubiquity of the mobile phone, there hasn't been a parallel rise in TV ad campaigns being integrated with a mobile element. One reason is that firm figures are not easy to come by and no-one wants to be on the bleeding edge of a marketing revolution.

That's a reason why we need to keep an eye on mobile marketing companies. I have some I am keeping my eye on and should have their insights soon.

Muller, the yoghurt and dessert company, ran an integrated TV and mobile campaign in conjunction with Flytxt to tie in with the release of the recent Bridget Jones sequel. It believes mobile marketing is a great way of extending the brand experience.

'With direct response campaigns using postcode- and address-finders, you can engage with consumers and add value to TV advertising through dialogue, rather than simply talking "at" the consumer,' says a Muller spokeswoman.

While direct response advertising is booming, mobile mark-eting has not formed part of many truly integrated campaigns, which could enhance the relationship between advertiser and consumer, above just text-to-win or vote.

One brand that is trying to harness the power of mobile beyond the level of direct response with TV is iconic clothing label Levi's. Well known for its TV advertising spots, the brand had to be sure of the success of adding a mobile element to a campaign before changing its award-winning format.

For the first time, Levi's decided to debut its latest ad via a WAP site, giving those who downloaded it a first look at the ad before it aired on TV. Helene Venge, head of digital marketing at Levi's Europe, says the purpose of the activity was primarily to extend the reach of the brand.

'WAP is a great way to reach a youth audience,' she says. 'We use mobile as a pull medium - not, as many advertisers do, to push. People don't use mobiles to receive ads; they use them to communicate with friends.'

Push marketing is easy, it's just putting it wherever eyes are and catering the ad to those eyes. Pull involves a creative campaign that gets a consumer to open the dialog, or opt-in. You must get permission to do this, that's the big variable. The screen on your phone is guarded by the user until he says, "you can advertise to me".

This is what will seperate most advertising companies. How well they can adapt from push to pull.

Muller's spokeswoman argues that the use of mobile for a direct response campaigns can also create a deeper interaction between the brand and consumer, which can add value to the TV campaign. 'Mobile marketing gave us a way of getting consumers to interact with a promotional campaign in a way that was specifically linked to purchases of Mullerlight,' she says.

The more creative a campaign, the more "pull" you will get. With that "pull" comes a bond between the advertiser and the consumer. That is why I think creativity will be key for mobile marketing. What kind of campaign can I create to get a consumer to request more info, or a free prize.

Jon Bains, chairman of interactive agency Lateral, believes the fact that brands are looking at mobile as a pull medium after years of SMS bombardment signals a change in the market. 'The big push of the internet was when it went from being text- to design-influenced. We are now going through a similar phase with mobile,' he says. 'Integrated campaigns should include mobile as a matter of course, but there are still very few properly integrated web campaigns - even fewer mobile.'

Bains believes telecoms companies want marketers to use mobile as they want content to drive 3G growth. Although the first instances of this takeup may be gimmicks like ringtones, deeper integration will follow.

'Mobile should be the glue between outdoor, TV, radio and every other medium,' he says.

Flytxt's Gelenbe also thinks that brand advertising using mobile marketing, rather than just direct response, will be the next big battleground. 'Brand advertising is an exciting area. There is now technology that allows advertisers to capture the real estate of the phone. This will be the next big area for brands battling for the ownership of people's phone space,' he says. 'Only about 40% of phones can support rich content at the moment, but wait one more Christmas and it will become really viable for advertisers.'

'Regardless of whether you use the medium as part of a campaign or as a standalone mobile offering, you can offer exclusive material and create a notional community that wants to interact with the brand,' she adds.

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