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Driving Mobile With Full Visibility

  |  January 22, 2009   |  Comments

Mobile is as much an out-of-home, print, radio, direct, and promotions medium as it is a digital one.

As cold Arctic blasts descend on our continent, imagine your car is fully covered with ice but for a six-inch hole cleared on your windshield. Now drive full speed and find a store that has a Nintendo Wii on sale.

If you're thinking about mobile marketing as a digital channel, you may be driving this car (even in summer), settling for games of Pong on your Atari, and blowing past a few stores along the road.

Almost everyone I talk to about mobile thinks of it as a digital channel. And it is. But it's much more than that, and I cringe when marketers limit their efforts to using mobile only for display advertising, sponsorships, or extending online search.

Mobile is as much an out-of-home, print, radio, direct, and promotions medium as it is a digital one.

First, consumers of all stripes have their mobile devices with them wherever they go, which means marketers can reach them when they're on the run, looking for products, in transit, waiting in public, and gathering with friends at a pub or in a stadium. And there are plenty of reasons to use devices at home, which means they can be coupled with traditional media.

Second, mobile devices allow consumers to interact with printed messages and immediately respond to radio ads. If you've listened to any form of radio lately (terrestrial, online, or satellite), you know mobile response to ads and contests has increased enormously. It has all but replaced the call-in function, and judging from the huge volumes of text voters on "American Idol," consumers seem to prefer it.

Many out-of-home opportunities involve using mobile devices as the response mechanism, enabling consumers to interact with a static ad or message. And that's a key use. But don't assume this capability only offers direct response possibilities at the expense of branding opportunities. Mobile devices can engage consumers in elaborate, useful mobile Web sites and applications, and the activity is highly measurable. Also, environments in which mobile ads appear are very uncluttered, which amplifies the branding effect. If the message is relevant and attractive, it has almost no other advertising to compete with. Invariably, recall, favorability, and consideration scores are very strong on mobile media.

Entertainment brands are already using mobile to achieve marketing objectives that haven't been possible through other channels. Adding a simple short code (define) to an outdoor board advertising a new movie allows consumers to link to the film's trailer, interact with deep content, and purchase tickets, all with a few keystrokes. The context and moment of that interaction make a big difference for movie marketers. Up to this point, they had to hope audiences could remember the advertising well enough to purchase tickets online when they get home, which could be hours or days later. Worse, they had to hope audiences could summon the title and interest in it when they're at the theater and under the influence of peers, time, and competing movies. Motivating consumers to get informed and buy a ticket when they see or hear the media can make all the difference in the media spend's effectiveness.

None of this replaces traditional or digital channels. Most media plans still need efficient mass reach. In fact, research shows that mobile performs far better when supported (or in support of) television, print, out-of-home, and other mass media. In designing effective mobile campaigns, we work hard to make sure there are as many other impressions in the marketplace as possible.

Display and search advertising are important components of any campaign that involves mobile. But the campaigns shouldn't just be extensions of online advertising and therefore shouldn't just be a function of a digital budget, a digital team in an agency, or an in-house digital department.

Digital teams may have been the spenders so far, but mobile is also the domain of print advertisers who want to drive interactions from their print investment, out-of-home advertisers who want to diversify static media, and direct marketers who want to reach consumers who can click to call as an immediate response.

There are a lot of outlets to consider on the road, and there's no reason to drive with limited visibility. Let's clear the windshield and pull into a few places that may have just what we need.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Bader

Eric Bader is a partner in BrandInHand, a full-service mobile marketing and media company that serves global brand marketers, partners with agencies, and assists emerging media companies. BrandInHand's clients span the consumer goods, financial services, technology, and retail industries.

Prior to forming BrandInHand, Bader served as managing director of digital at MediaVest Worldwide. A new media veteran, he was formerly the head of online enterprises at CSTV Networks (now CBSSports) and, prior to that, executive director of interactive marketing at Ogilvy.

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