vicki powers
freelance writer

Marketing Goes Mobile

Engage younger consumers through their seemingly omnipresent mobile phones

iQ magazine, Third Quarter 2005

by Vicki Powers

Print, Television, and Radio are no longer enough for marketers targeting teens and twenty-somethings. Mobile marketing is the latest tactic to interactively engage this customer segment—through their mobile phones.

Smart marketers will use both media buying on the wireless Web and text messaging, according to Thomas Burgess, CEO at Third Screen Media, a mobile marketing software and services company. Mobile media buying includes targeted banner and text link impressions on browsable mobile applications.

"Messaging—or short messaging service (SMS)—is primarily a person-to person technology, but now advertisers can use short codes displayed in broadcast, print, and radio as a consumer's call to action," Burgess states. For example, viewers can vote for contestants on Fox's American Idol by using their phones to send a code.

The most important strategy for mobile success, according to Noah Elkin, senior analyst at eMarketer, an Internet and e-business research firm, is to focus on the types and formats of content that these users want. This can include exclusive information on new products, upcoming trends, and content that brings personal value or benefit to consumers. Elkin offers several tips:

  • Get permission, especially because wireless users pay to receive messages.
  • Target relevant and appropriate messages to the audience's interests and tastes.
  • Focus on viral, "pull" marketing campaigns in which the audience makes a request or takes an action.

Most use of the technology is coming from large enterprises, but SMBs can learn from their successes to develop their own campaigns. American Express achieved a 73 percent interaction rate with its Australian Open SMS contest. Once participants opted in from their mobile phones via a short code, they were directed to a mobile site that offered contests and real-time information about the two-week event.

This mobile campaign outperformed a simultaneous online contest and created a strong viral influence. The UPN television network created a successful campaign around its show Veronica Mars. Viewers could opt in to receive SMS reminders and other information about the show. The effort achieved an 8% click-through rate on its banners. Other brands with campaigns include Coca-Cola, M&M's Brands, Kellogg's, McDonalds, and Snapple.

"The reach for mobile media is enormous, across more than 40 percent of the 180 million U.S. mobile phone users," Burgess says. "SMS reaches more than 60 percent."

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