Hot Topics From 3GSM

Face it: Although not yet a mainstream channel, mobile advertising is all the rage. Premium text messaging generates the lion’s share of mobile marketing revenues, but it’s not the wireless channel getting coverage on the front page of every major periodical worldwide today. In publications such as “The International Herald Tribune” and “The Boston Globe,” mobile advertising is hot.

At the world’s largest wireless conference last week in Barcelona, 3GSM, we heard Vodafone Group’s Arun Sarin speak about the emerging trend of mobile advertising and the importance of mobile advertising guidelines to ensure rapid deployment. In addition, Yahoo launched its display advertising initiative in 19 countries, which enables advertisers to reach consumers using the Yahoo Mobile Web home page. JumpTap and Openwave also announced a contextual advertising delivery platform that can deliver relevant and contextual advertisements to end users.

These are just three of the many announcements at 3GSM. Mobile advertising has enormous potential to become the engagement-based ad model for all marketer types. Add relevancy (context), and mobile may be the biggest medium ever.

When I talk to ClickZ’s editors about the feedback this column receives, we discuss the need to educate the masses on mobile marketing basics, such as messaging and video. While these may drive the revenue, it’s mobile advertising that’s drawing all the attention. So although I’ve covered mobile advertising before, let’s discuss the necessary steps if you want to add mobile advertising to your mix, using an American example:

  1. Define strategies and objectives. As with all mobile marketing initiatives, understand the goals and objectives for any campaign you initiate.
  2. Choose your partner. A mobile advertising partner can include wireless operators (Sprint Nextel being the first to announce mobile advertising initiatives in October 2006), ad-serving companies (e.g., Third Screen Media, Enpocket, AdMob, MindMatics) or other full-service mobile marketing agencies/mobile application service providers, even digital ad agencies (e.g., ipsh! and Denuo). If the creative is already complete, you can also buy inventory from off-deck publisher sites, many of whom have established their own ad sales teams to assist.
  3. Choose the wireless media type. Although we’re seeing advertising across multiple wireless media types, mobile Web and messaging (text) are the most predominant. This is due partly to consumer adoption and partly to guidelines and formats in place to help ensure rapid deployment. Other media types for consideration include MMS (multimedia messaging service), video and TV, downloadables, interactive voice response (IVR), and search.
  4. Build the campaign and launch. This can include all media types mentioned above, as well as on- and off-portal inventory. Off also includes advergaming and pre-roll video. The options are limitless.

Should consumers be concerned about mobile advertising intrusiveness? The number of inquiries my colleagues and I receive from the public is on the rise as mobile advertising gets more play in the media. The mobile channel is pristine. The always on, always available nature of a mobile device, always with the consumer, is a highly personal channel. We must be (and are being) careful to ensure a quality consumer experience. Relevancy and permission are the keys to this medium’s success.

Mobile is consumer pull, not the push model that’s become so prevalent in e-mail. We’re working to ensure the mobile channel remains free of unsolicited campaigns. There’s a win for consumers. If you already pay $5.99 for a monthly ring tone subscription service, for example, an ad subsidizing the service might provide a broader catalog of options at the same price.

For marketers, 2.2 billion worldwide mobile phone users means a new way to engage consumers where they are, globally. Mobile is changing how we reach consumers in a meaningful way.

Is 2007 the year of mobile advertising? We’ll definitely see an increase in number of offers and opportunities globally.

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