When Sprint announced they were laying off 5000 employees, and Apple unveiled their iPhone in the same week, it got me thinking.
I did a piece called We Interrupt This Broadcast a couple years ago that explained where mobile marketing would be going. These same issues exist today.
Are we seeing another industry, another commodity business, that can't change.
They, along with the other carriers are trying to find a way to tap into mobile advertising and increase ARPU.
Wireless carriers are in a sense, able to place their own "toolbar" or home page, on the mobile, why aren't they monetizing this?
What happens to wireless carriers when VOIP and WiMax aren't just concepts? What happens when voice is free?
With all of the upcoming mobile applications, shouldn't this be an exciting time for a mobile operator?
Advertising is about to encounter a significant obstacle with the mobile phone. Will mobile carriers be able to figure out how to get permission from consumers in order to reach them at anytime and anywhere?
It all boils down to permission and creativity.
Advertisers can't just slap a 30 second ad on the highest rated TV shows/channels anymore. The consumer has Tivo and DVRS which allow the consumer to retrieve, or be in control of "permission"
Satellite radio has taken the advertiser out of the picture.
Internet pop ups and banners didn't get permission from the consumer and that advertising method ultimately failed. That won't happen with mobile advertising, permission must be granted first.
When and how did Internet advertising take off? When a free application (search engine) was introduced that provided relevant information, advertisers could place advertising along side of that information. It's a give and take relationship. I will give you permission to advertise to me when I get/take relevant information from you.
If the latest text message campaigns from NBC's TV shows are any indication of how advertisers should implement mobile marketing, then there is HUGE opportunity for anybody with any creative thinking. Send a text (and get charged a fee) for a chance to win $10,000. They are building a huge database that can't be used because they are not getting permission.
This is the best they can do?
A company that seems to be doing everything right in mobile marketing is Qtags.
Qtags is doing a great job of landing big clients that are using their short code 78247 for various campaigns. Brands are using a keyword and the Qtag shortcode on various forms of medium to get interested consumers to initiate a relationship (ie permission). Take a look at some of the big brands they have landed and their latest campaigns
For now I see two methods or approaches to mobile marketing, direct and indirect. Each has their own method of gaining permission from the consumer.
Companies like 4INFO will provide ads along side of text message info queries (phone number listings, sports scores, stock quotes, weather etc). They are provided advertising next to info you are searching for (indirect mobile marketing)
The other method, like Qtags, is direct mobile marketing. A magazine ad, radio spot or TV commercial will invite people to send a text message to a specific shortcode for more info.
Eventually the shortcode will be replaced by a 2d code that users can click on with a camera phone for more info or to be directed to a specific website.
A common complaint I hear from mobile marketing guys is the length of time to get a short code. Imagine if it took close to two months to get a domain name.
Here are some of the variables I see for mobile marketing.
The amount of time to register a shortcode may force advertisers to use a shortcode "portal".
Major short code owners (Yahoo, Google 4INFO) offering LINK words, become SMS portals.
Percentage of mobile phones with cameras and increased resolution of the camera.
2d code generating sites...could replace the shortcode/keyword method when people can create their own physical world hyperlink .