The History Channel’s Mobile Marketing Future

Do centuries-old facts warrant delivery via a medium built for expediency? A new mobile advertising initiative promoting The History Channel is proving they do. Through a partnership with AvantGo, iAnywhere Solutions’ mobile Internet service, and media services agency Horizon Media, the channel has launched a mobile Web site. It allows viewers to access quizzes, trivia, and programming information via their smartphones and PDAs.

The History Channel’s primary audience of “information-seeking men between the ages of 25 and 54” are mobile device users demographically similar to AvantGo’s existing user base of over 7 million unique registered users. According to AvantGo, mobile users are typically well-educated, affluent professionals “that look to stay connected and informed,” like those who routinely tune in to The History Channel either on TV or online.

With the mobile site’s launch, the channel joins a long line of players who have hooked up with AvantGo for mobile marketing and advertising programs. Microsoft has released two mobile advergames for AvantGo users since November; and Acura, Corvette, and Volkswagen sponsor dealer-locater channels on the platform.

Consider your own mobile device usage habits and you’ll see why mobile is all the rage. Mobile marketing is on the verge of a major explosion in North America, largely because marketers are realizing clutter and convention needn’t hold them back from creating effective ad campaigns. Fact is, this medium isn’t limited to SMS.

Hybrid marketing and media channels like the one developed for The History Channel (it also delivers house ads) are only one opportunity. Advertisers can obtain on-device home page banners, mobile newsletter sponsorships, customized research surveys, and content sponsorships (AvantGo delivers up-to-date content from Wired, The New York Times, USA TODAY, and dozens of other branded media publications), generally all for CPM (define) rates.

As far as audience is concerned, access to a young, professional, tech-savvy user base isn’t mobile advertising’s only advantage. Because users tend to view online content while commuting or during their spare time, they’re very focused on what they’re seeing. This means they’re more likely than their stationary counterparts to request information about companies and products, and to complete surveys. Not only are they a great demographic fit for many advertisers, they’re also prone to noticing promotional content and ads.

Add to all that the medium’s propensity for encouraging higher click-through and conversion rates (AvantGo says the former are 5 to 10 times higher than traditional banner ads, the latter 10 to 20 percent above the industry standard), and you’ve got an appealing supplement to an on- or offline campaign.

Advertisers trying AvantGo will also benefit from the company’s new wireless synchronization capability. It eliminates the need for users to synch mobile devices with their desktop computers for new content. This new system is expected to allow marketers to reach consumers in the middle of the purchase cycle. If a person’s shopping for a new car, for example, she can get branded dealer-locater information on the spot.

It’s too early to gauge the success of The History Channel’s initiative. But if it goes as expected, campaigns that don’t include mobile advertising may soon become ancient history.

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