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Why Turn to Mobile Marketing in a Down Economy?

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With the economy still struggling, marketers, brand managers and their agencies are looking for ways to cut budgets for the remainder of 2009.

Some industry pundits have brought into light the fact that technologies such as mobile, virtual worlds and widgets will be hit hard by the downturn. Often referred to as "emerging advertising technologies", spending figures in this space are small compared with the overall online ad market, which reached $23.4 billion in 2008 according to the IAB.

Looking at mobile in particular, eMarketer reports that U.S. advertisers spent $648 million dollars in 2008 on mobile advertising. Although this number is small compared to other initiatives, it still represents a great opportunity for companies that clearly understand the market and best practices associated with this medium.

What eMarketer and many others fail to recognize, however, is that there are some clear differences between mobile advertising and mobile marketing. Mobile advertising is typically text messages and banners that are delivered via the mobile Web. This is a component of mobile marketing, but is not -- and should not -- be an advertiser's complete mobile strategy.

Mobile marketing, on the other hand, offers an interactive experience for consumers and allows them to interact with a brand or advertiser at their convenience, with urgency and spontaneity. Think of times when you've seen an ad on the street or TV, thinking "I need to remember to go to that Web site or make that phone call," but then you forget once you're back in front of your computer. Because the mobile phone is almost always nearby, it gives customers the ability to instantly react to an ad.

As an example, The National Guard launched a nationwide theater advertising campaign last fall featuring "Warrior," a two-and-a-half minute video spot with music by Kid Rock and an appearance by NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. As part of the campaign, a mobile Internet site was created using 2ergo's mobile marketing platform that allows movie watchers to access and interact with the "Warrior" site on their mobile phones while sitting in the theater.

Warrior appeared for a two-month period before PG-13 and R rated movies in thousands of theaters nationwide. In the first month of the campaign, the mobile campaign generated thousands of unique visitors and more than 9,000 MP3s, 2,600 video views and 600 wallpaper images were downloaded.

Some of the key elements that make mobile marketing campaigns so successful are:

1.) Programs can be easily tied into an overall media plan and integrated alongside traditional media

2.) Customer responses are often instantaneous since many people carry mobile phones

3.) The direct response element of these campaigns is trackable

As many marketers will need to defend their advertising spend, trackable campaigns are becoming even more important. Mobile campaigns that have a direct response element tied to them are easier to measure in terms of ROI and the total number of individuals that respond via SMS or visit a mobile Web site for more information.

One example is a reality TV campaign from Scripps Networks that utilized SMS to allow viewers to vote on the winner while allowing an advertiser to include a message within each vote reply. Seven percent of voters that received the sponsored text message requested more information from the sponsor of the program. In another example, Chevrolet launched a recent mobile campaign in Mexico that used a mobile Web site to capture numerous consumers interested in more information and a test drive.

With more than 80% of mobile phone penetration in the U.S. alone, brand marketers are beginning to recognize the true value that this tested and proven medium delivers.

Feel free to contact me directly if you would like to discuss or learn more.

Chris Brasington

CEO Starfish Consultants

http://www.starfish-consultants.com