At some point all media becomes part of an equation. They devolve into commodities traded individually or as parts of portfolios, or they're thrown in to complete a reach calculation or rating points total. Mobile advertising is naturally part of media's calculus. And if we're ever going to achieve ROI (define) on our media investments, it has to be. But mobile marketing is far more than advertising. Mobile brings innovative added dimensions to brand strategies that shouldn't be overlooked.
Unlike static and one-way communications channels, mobile is about context and behaviors -- great things for marketers. Here are a few ways to market through mobile that can be especially effective in reaching mobile consumers.
Location is an incredibly valuable dimension to add to marketing, and mobile delivers it in ways that no other local medium can. In fact, when used as a response mechanism, mobile actually makes local media more valuable by encouraging users to interact. Asking mobile users to opt in and enable an application to provide value based on where they are can be marketing gold, if you use it right. Firing unsolicited promotions at consumers walking down the street can be brand suicide. Helping interested consumers research, consider, make decisions, create wish lists, and even enjoy some entertainment based on local context can provide measureable momentum toward a sale.
Every retailer has a nagging metric for the sales that consumers leave out of their baskets. Usually it's because items were hard to find, sales help was ineffective, lines were long, the store was too big, deals didn't motivate consumers to buy more, or they forgot something because they didn't have a list. The connections between what consumers have been exposed to through TV commercials and online and outdoor media and what consumers do in the aisle are frayed. But nearly every shopper has a mobile device in her pocket, which can be used as a powerful comparison tool, cross-sell and up-sell engine, and loyalty builder. Mobile can help retailers fill baskets and drive more visits.
Consumer demographic and psychographic profiles aren't enough to plan highly relevant media. We need to address context, and mobile has the great advantage of being relevant during key usage modes. Dayparts and time of day have long been reliable media targeting tactics. But mobile adds important overlays, such as commuting behavior. If you sell coffee, snacks, or even entertainment, it's critical to the message and context that you recognize that your target consumer is out of the house, away from a TV or PC screen, and actively engaged in a ritual that lends itself to saving or killing time. There are other media options to reach people in those moments, but none of them are as interactive or offer as many ways to engage consumers as mobile.
A movie billboard in Times Square is powerful. When mixed with a flood of TV and print in the days before a movie release, it helps surround moviegoers with magnetic messages and images that hopefully lock in their decision before they head to the theater. But unless they book through Fandango or Moviefone, a ticket hasn't been sold yet. Mobile can convert the millions of people who are exposed to movie advertising but away from a PC or TV. Running contextual mobile ads and tagging media with mobile URLs or even short codes can deliver consumers to mobile Web sites. Once there, they can see and share the trailers, go deep on the movie experience, and book seats immediately. That has a big impact on movie marketing's econometrics.
Probably the most well-known form of mobile participation is the voting and polling incorporated into shows like "American Idol." For years, fans have voted in numbers greater than those of national elections. Beyond having an impact on competition results, there are many other ways to use mobile to capture users' interest in participating. In stadiums, on the street, in malls, at concerts, there are thousands of people at a time who want to interact with the event, the players, one another, and the brands that sponsor them. There is an entire generation of people worldwide who leave the house with a device in hand and the expectation that they can use it to be a part of the action. Those are potential names in databases and willing audiences who can be retargeted.
At this point it's hard to image a brand plan that would be complete without elements that deliver on the growing and interested mobile consumer. Let's innovate beyond the media value calculations of advertising alone and use the opportunities to let mobile deliver local and relevant experiences to consumers when and where they matter to them.
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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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