The Right Time and Place For Mobile Marketing
By Eric Lin, Tue Nov 09 00:45:00 GMT 2004

Advertisers are becoming more adept at creating campaigns that engage mobile users, but a few still long for the good old days of mass media.

Now that video capable phones are on the rise in high-penetration markets, and even gaining traction in North America, advertisers are relieved. Many advertising powerhouses in the traditional media world have been struggling to come up with campaigns to engage the mobile generation. However now these same companies are on the verge of taking their commercials to the phone. (Free registration required.) Video spots are already popular in Asia, and as video content like MobiTV and specialized sports broadcasts gain traction in the West, it should become popular here within the next year.

Even though they're thinking of mobile marketing in terms of traditional ads, the ad agencies realize these can't be exactly the same as what they produce for mass media. While some have accepted the fact that even video or text ads will need to be personalized and highly targeted, other agencies seem to be lamenting the fact that they have to change the way they advertise to reach the mobile youth. Marketers are upset that they can't reach the mobile generation through traditional streams. Younger users have seized technologies that allow them to avoid authority and unpleasant situations, circumventing traditional media campaigns.

Solutions to reach mobile youth already exist, but for the most part they have not being implemented by the big name brands or the largest marketing firms, but that is about to change. Bringing Douglas Rushkoff's suggestion to life, Daimler Chrysler is looking at producing phone based games, as are other companies which would like to recreate the success of the Nokia Game or I Love Bees. Jane will run another issue of its cameraphone ad campaign in December, due to the success of the first effort.

People are tempted by offers for free stuff, and they're willing to jump through a few hoops for it, especially the mobile generation. In addition to snapping ads with cameraphones, there is a revived interest in opt-in text offers. Since the first efforts at opt-in SMS ads were built before marketers really understood mobile culture, they emulated traditional coupon campaigns. Now companies have figured out how to leverage the scenarios where mobile advertising has advantages over similar email advertising or other channels.

Advertisers have realized that due to the personal nature of mobile phones, customers will always have them nearby, making them a more appropriate channel to deliver last minute deals, like on weekend getaways. Another small marketing firm in the Rocky Mountains is focusing on the fact that users have their phones with them when out shopping, as well as the fact that young users are more likely to take advantage of mobile ads than older ones. Mob Shopper is signing up young users to receive SMS coupons from businesses in local malls. This way they have the coupon with them when they're at the mall, and so are more likely to stop into stores and consider using it.

It is not just the ads themselves, but the spirit of the ads that have changed. No longer can advertisers blindly push ads at customers -- especially mobile users who often have to pay to receive content, including ads. Other than sponsored video ads, each of these new channels is opt-in. Users select to be sent ads or choose to download specific content. Adapting to new media channels will be easy for big ad agencies, it is this shift to pull rather than push advertising that will be the challenge.