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Mobile Set for Take-off

David Murphy

Mobile marketing is on the rise and is rapidly becoming an integral part of the marketing mix, with more agencies and brands utilising the mobile channel than ever before. Yet a report commissioned by Airwide Solutions earlier this year highlighted that 55% of companies were unsure how to reach specific target audiences via mobile campaigns. In this piece, one of the last things he wrote before his tragic death at the weekend, Paul Griffiths, MD of interactive mobile company Dialogue Communications, looks at the current state of mobile marketing and offers advice on how best to use the mobile medium to reach their customers

Mobile marketing still represents a relatively small part of the overall mix, but this is increasing, and more brands are realising its full potential. It will become a fundamental part of marketing in the future, as a key tool to run along side other media, allowing marketers to create very personal interaction with their audience, but not replacing broadcast and online media spend.

Personal communication
The mobile channel represents one of the most personal and targeted ways of communicating with an audience. Unlike other media, a mobile device is carried around constantly, allowing consumers to be targeted at key times of the day or at different locations, such as bars or outdoor events. Any interaction with a mobile is recorded, and results can be monitored effectively, even to the point of knowing where someone interacted with a campaign.
For a mobile campaign to be a success, messages need to be targeted, particularly outbound messaging and broadcast messages where customers opt in. Like direct mail and email marketing, messages need to be relevant, timely and not over used, as there is a danger that over-use can lead to a decrease in response rates.
Increasingly, mobile is becoming a widely-used platform for all demographics, with a broad spectrum from teenagers to the middle aged. However, its success is most noticeable among younger mobile users. For brands and products that need targeted promotion, mobile campaigns can deliver excellent results.

Multitude of campaigns
Brands can consider a whole range of campaigns on mobile, from simple on-pack Text 2 Win campaigns, through to building WAP sites to promote and inform consumers about products. Over the next couple of years, I think brands will begin to heavily use SMS and MMS to reach their audience. SMS is already a popular method for mobile marketing campaigns and consumers are very familiar with text. They can text into a shortcode displayed on print or broadcast media. Once the user has opted in and their mobile number captured, a text response can be sent back to the phone. However, increasingly, the response is a link to a WAP (mobile Internet) site that promotes a product, or a piece of interactive content, sent to the phone as an MMS. In practice, campaigns can work well when they integrate the simplicity of text with some form of multimedia which is more engaging.
The ability to provide consumers with rich media on the mobile, through mobile Internet and multimedia messaging (MMS) allows marketers to take brands on to the mobile through images and video. Interactive campaigns that involve consumers include opinion polls, quizzes and competitions, and campaigns that allow consumers to submit user generated content, such as best picture or video competitions.

Understanding the technology

For mobile marketing to continue to grow, the technology companies behind the campaigns need to make it as simple as possible to create and monitor the campaign, in order to appeal to even the most technophobic of marketing managers. At Dialogue, we have a platform called MAP (Mobile Applications Portal) for mobile campaign management, which gives brands the ability to plug into a whole variety of campaigns quickly. Its flexibility means that campaigns can be set up quickly to meet print and other media deadlines. The platform was used during Comic Relief, where new campaigns were being set up on a daily basis in conjunction with BT Agilemedia. Its web based interface means that campaigns can be created and monitored from anywhere without the need for special software.
While the regulatory issues which surround mobile marketing are based on straightforward principles, such as permission-based marketing, marketers have to be aware of the pitfalls of not adhering to the regulatory standards. Mobile network operators and regulatory/industry bodies such as ISCTIS and the Mobile Marketing Association have their own codes of conduct and guidelines and attention needs to be paid to these when creating a campaign. These are no more onerous than the standards imposed in other media channels, but do need to be well understood and implemented by campaign managers.

Mobile versus online
Both mobile and online media have their place in the overall marketing mix. Mobile is growing and can learn from online marketing, which is more mature. To say that one is more effective than the other is dangerous and marketers need to understand the relative benefits of each and use them accordingly. Mobile has a much greater level of personalisation, but does lack the screen real estate that online offers.
Mobile marketing campaigns are generally run with some other form of media campaign, which stimulates a call to action. Mobile is used as a way of creating interactivity and a richer, more informative experience. But it is possible to run mobile-only campaigns, with the advent of mobile advertising, including banner ads and mobile search, as a new medium for mobile.

The future of mobile marketing
The future of mobile marketing will undoubtedly be bright, with the introduction of mobile search, as this facility will allow brands to advertise on the mobile Internet and drive interaction through marketing campaigns. Mobile search could replace some more traditional advertising spend as this medium continues to grow, and is certainly set to be an important part of online advertising. More mobile search boxes are appearing on mobile portals (e.g. Vodafone Live!) and Google and Yahoo mobile offerings are growing rapidly.
The third screen is becoming an increasingly important part of our lives and understanding how to target and exploit it will be a vital part of tomorrows marketing mix.