A Very Large Opportunity for Mobile Marketing

The Asia-Pacific region boasts the world’s largest number of mobile phone subscribers, as well as some of the most active text messaging users.

India alone has over 75 million mobile phone users who, in 2005, sent more than 1 trillion text messages. China has more than 400 million mobile users, more than those who use a fixed line phone, and boasts impressive wireless data statistics. The most impressive mobile text usage market in the region is the Philippines. Philippine consumers send over 120 million text messages a day — that’s 43 billion messages a year! For comparative purposes, the United States has approximately 219 million wireless subscribers sending approximately 10 billion text messages a year.

The conclusion? Mobile users in the region utilize their mobile phones as their primary form of communication. Mobile interactions and experiences are a way of life.

Given the statistics, the region’s marketing potential is enormous. But understanding the intricacies and differences between the countries and how mobile is intertwined into inhabitants’ daily lives poses a challenge for some. In many regions where fixed line access isn’t available or is too expensive, many consumers use their mobiles for communications access. E-mail, television, and Internet are all accessed through the mobile device. This drives a new kind of consumer, one who’s accustomed to seeing mobile integrated into cross-media initiatives and who’s technically savvy. Mobile is integral to daily life. As such, brands are seizing the opportunity to instantaneously engage with consumers.

Use of the mobile channel for marketing has achieved success in the Asia-Pacific region and is growing rapidly. China was the first to deploy mobile advertising using the Mobile Marketing Association’s (MMA’s) Mobile Advertising Guidelines (PDF download) for mobile Web banners. To illustrate the types of campaigns and brands active in the region, here are a couple illustrative case studies:

  • Short-code campaign (China). Beijing Innovative Linkage Technology Ltd. (DNS) recently launched a new mobile marketing program in China called “Come In.” The program is the first of its type to utilize a short code (“50120”) across both the China Mobile and China Unicom networks. Users join the program via a membership then are encouraged to send messages to win prizes. During the program’s five months, the winning consumer will become the Lucky Star and receives a trip for two to Singapore. Enterprises are encouraged to participate and can establish their own short codes and award their own prizes. The program’s goal of the program is to drive mobile marketing adoption in the Chinese market, reduce the cost for enterprises to participate in mobile campaigns, and advance the interaction between enterprises and consumers. This innovative program, launched in August, is expected to draw over a million participants.
  • Adidas Real Madrid tour of China (Hong Kong). This interactive mobile campaign was designed to leverage adidas’ sponsorship of Real Madrid and its August ’05 tour of China. The program featured a fully branded adidas 3G (define) and WAP (define) channel, including exclusive mobile video content (interviews with leading soccer stars), MTV-produced video content exclusive for the mobile device, event information, and the launch of a new, star-studded mobile TV show. The adidas Real Madrid 3G channel was one of the most successful programs on the Hutchinson 3G network. It generated over 10,000 downloads in nine days, with the audience spending an average 7 minutes interacting with the program, which was launched by the Hyperfactory.

Key to ensuring the Asia-Pacific market’s long-term growth and sustainability is the development of guidelines and best practices that not only to protect consumer privacy but also ensure brand integrity. Mobile spam has become an issue in many Asia-Pacific markets, and protecting the channel is paramount. The MMA will launch an Asia-Pacific (APAC) chapter in the next 45 days. Current APAC MMA members include 21 Communications, DNS, Coca-Cola, Enpocket, Isobar, Mobile Messenger, Netpia.com Inc., Ogilvy, PUCA China, and the Hyperfactory. If you’re interested in participating in leading the development of the emerging APAC market, please contact me.

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