Seize the Day

Robert Thurner, Commercial Director of mobile marketing agency Incentivated, explains how mobile is bridging the gap between the offline and online worlds, and urges brands to get involved sooner rather than later

Last week, GMTV announced the resignation of its Managing Director, Paul
Corley in response to a scandal the BBC television programme Panorama
exposed in April, in which it alleged that callers to premium-rate
phone competitions on the GMTV breakfast show had been defrauded out of
millions of pounds Since 2003, callers had wasted a total of 45,000 a
day – or 10m a year – entering the competitions. The move is part of
a series of measures GMTV and Opera have introduced to help prevent a
repeat of the problem.
Although these measures are clearly a very positive step forward in
restoring public confidence, what is paramount is that all market
players take a responsible attitude to growing the mobile sector
through self regulation and the development of best practice
guidelines. Codes of Conduct developed by the Direct Marketing
Association, Institute of Sales Promotion and Mobile Marketing
Association, as well as the existing rulebook developed by the
Advertising Standards Authority, are very clear in such cases, and
together with the premium rate regulator ICSTIS, should be strictly
adhered to. We must also remember that episodes such as the one in
April 2007 are very much the exception and not the norm, and should not
undermine all the positive work currently happening in the industry
which should not be ignored.
Text message campaigns can offer a vital service. Incentivateds
campaign for the Mayor of London allowed the general public to receive
contact details by text for the closest licensed minicab firms in an
effort to reduce sexual assaults by illegal minicab drivers. British
Airways delivers time-sensitive travel alerts to passengers and cabin
crew, allowing travelers to learn about disruptions and act upon them
instead of finding out at the airport when its too late.
But mobile means so much more than text messaging. Sending an SMS to a
shortcode on a poster, a press or TV ad is only the start of the mobile
journey. Todays handsets serve up mobile Internet sites, providing
rich content, and real-time interaction. Location-based services allow
us to browse for relevant and local information from tourist
attractions to jobs, and to receive time-sensitive barcodes for easy
redemption. Mobile Internet sites requesting prospects email addresses
prove how mobile can act as the bridge bringing people from the offline
world into the online environment.
The mobile landscape is changing fast. The majority of handsets sold
will be 3G-enabled by the year end, allowing a superior user experience
of the mobile Internet and content downloads. Vodafone is the latest of
the operators to offer flat-rate data charges, removing one of the last
barriers to people browsing the mobile web.
The mobile channel provides immediacy, engagement, interactivity and
instant measurement, while remaining extremely private. As brands
recognise the leading role mobile plays in todays complex
communications mix, the mobile market is preparing for rapid growth.
Legislation is in place to protect the consumer, and text campaigns
that allow the public to make charitable donations, find safe taxis and
even land a new job, prove the many benefits of mobile and text
services. Offering the mobile as a medium for consumers to interact
with brands and good causes that incite an immediate desire to respond
and be involved is bringing traditional media to life.
For readers of Mobile Marketing Magazine who are yet to do so, now is
the time to seize the mobile opportunity, or risk being left behind.