Signs of Success

David Murphy

Yvonne Li from US mobile marketing company Mobi33, which operates a multichannel mobile content management and distribution platform, discusses the implications of, and the opportunities presented by, the convergence of digital signage and mobile marketing

Over the past year, a tremendous amount of buzz has been generated by the convergence of digital signage and mobile marketing. Advertising agencies and ad networks want to know what convergence means for the future of their enterprises. This article will clear up some of the myths surrounding the buzz and show you how to prepare for the future of digital signage.
Mobile technology will soon be at the centre of all cross-media advertising convergence. Look at the numbers and you'll understand why mobile is already on everyone's mind: The number of mobile subscribers worldwide rose from 11 million in 1990 to 2.6 billion this year; that number is projected to rise to 4 billion by 2010. And almost all mobile phones are capable of receiving ad content in one form or another.
Before you decide on a mobile strategy, you should understand two things: how mobile marketing works to your benefit, and how to determine the optimal configuration for your digital signage network.
If you're familiar with mobile marketing, you probably know that it's next to impossible for mobile carriers to push your ads directly to their subscribers. Meanwhile, the mobile Internet is still in its infancy compared to online advertising. As a result, mobile ad content still relies on other forms of media in order to be distributed. But here's the key: As soon as mobile content takes up residence in a mobile phone, it produces a long-lasting effect.

A merger that makes sense
The key to understanding the changing landscape of advertising lies in the simple fact that mobile ad content forms a symbiotic relationship with digital signage. It does this by solving some of the deficiencies associated with digital signage, such as information recall, distance of influence and lack of long tail marketing opportunities. On the other hand, digital signage is an excellent medium for generating leads from the natural traffic found in public venues.
In addition, mobile increases consumer engagement by offering a tangible benefit on the spot. Before consumers are willing to take part in any commercial activity, they want to know: What's in it for me? Consumers want answers to these questions:

  • Can you deliver the information I need right here? Right now?

  • Can you save me money?

  • Can I get something for nothing?

A clear call to action in the digital signage ad encourages viewers to respond to content that captures their interest. Viewers are given the option of calling in or sending a text message to receive product information and coupons on their mobile phones. Offering prizes for advertiser-sponsored sweepstakes and trivia games increases consumer engagement; few people understand the crucial role that prizes play in subliminally training consumers to look for deals on digital signage screens.

Planning a mobile strategy
Sweepstakes promotions create a win-win relationship for consumers and advertisers. For example, a franchise that has store presence in shopping malls is sponsoring a trivia question on the malls' digital signage network. Shoppers participate by calling in or sending a text message with the correct answer. All participants immediately receive a $5 coupon as an SMS to their mobile. Trivia winners have a chance to win an iPod in a weekly draw. The iPod winners are notified by SMS after each draw.
The coupons get consumers into the store, even though the trip wasn't on their original agenda. Although most participants will not be winners, the weekly iPod draw creates the opportunity to stay in contact with customers by sending them a Thank you for participating text message. In addition, every SMS communication creates the opportunity to include a promotional message and a link to a mobile landing page. The goal, of course, is to create as many marketing opportunities as you can.

An optimal mobile marketing strategy must have the ability to:

  • Deliver content to ad viewers' mobiles immediately

  • Communicate with opt-in customers for future promotions

  • Provide a mobile site that customers can access for future offerings

  • Deploy text-to-win, voting, polling, surveys and trivia games

  • Collect marketing data such as demographic information, signage site response rates and ad effectiveness

What kind of resources do you have to invest to implement this type of cutting-edge campaign? Less than you think. Thanks to next-generation software technologies, many components of mobile campaign deployment are fully automated, including mobile content delivery; winner selection; mobile alerts and notifications; mobile Internet site creation; and the capturing of response data from consumers. With the software automation, new campaigns can be created in minutes and deployment cost can be kept to a minimum.

Content access: an important consideration
The final element to consider is the choice of methods for content access. A content access channel makes it possible for consumers to have coupons and other information sent to their mobile phones. The most widely used channels are text messaging and interactive voice response (IVR).
IVR allows consumers to call a voice number and enter an ad code to receive content via SMS. Text messaging allows consumers to receive content via SMS by sending a shortcode keyword. Some mobile marketing software platforms offer both access channels. You can use either channel independently, or combine these two channels in your mobile marketing strategy. The strategy you choose will determine your deployment cost.
Research shows that text messaging is most popular among younger demographic groups. Older audiences are less likely to know how to text message, and therefore less likely to participate in text message campaigns. On the other hand, everyone knows how to call a voice number and enter an ad code from a keypad. An additional benefit of IVR is that the use of shortcode keywords requires advertisers to pay a monthly fee; IVR ad codes incur no charges. Unless you're running a campaign that targets a younger audience, always use IVR as your access channel.

Short-term goal
What does this mean for the future? The answer is clear: digital signage networks will increasingly equip their ads with mobile response capability. Now is the time to start planning your mobile strategy. One suggestion is to work with a provider who can help you set up a test campaign. Once you're familiar with the process, you'll discover how easy it is to merge these two applications, especially since no hardware or software integration is required. 
According to a recent survey, mobile is the most important emerging media, followed by digital signage. Due to their symbiotic relationship, the convergence of digital signage and mobile responses is sure to give rise to a powerful and effective advertising medium.