Wireless Advertising’s Early Adopters

Here’s a minor mystery. Despite all the much-lamented limitations of wireless advertising, you can hardly read an industry magazine or newsletter without seeing an article about the latest company testing some type of mobile commerce (m-commerce) or wireless-advertising initiative. (BTW, I’m going to be exploring the convergence of m-commerce and wireless advertising in next week’s column, so stay tuned.)

To be sure, there is an elite group of tech-savvy market leaders that will always jump on the latest marketing and technology trends first. These companies are in the habit of investing in the latest new thing to make sure they are ahead of the curve when the rest of the world catches on. But even more important for wireless is that a growing number of companies already see the value of wireless strategies for their businesses.

Who are they? It’s no surprise that they’re the companies with products and services that map easily to the major advantages that wireless commerce and advertising offer — time- or location-sensitive access:

  • The first category consists of businesses for which the customer’s ability to make time-sensitive decisions, no matter where he or she happens to be, is inherent in the business model. Fidelity’s decision to develop a wireless Internet trading platform, for example, is a no-brainer. It extends the real-time, 24/7 mentality of online trading and makes it truly mobile. Perfect. The idea of being able to place a last minute eBay bid from your cell phone is pretty cool, too.

  • The second category consists of companies with a market demographic that’s a close fit with those of today’s wireless devices. As was the case with the Web, this category will broaden as wireless-device penetration increases and its demographics begin to more closely mirror those of the general population. But for now, wireless advertising may already be a good fit for marketers looking to reach a tech-savvy, professional, upscale, and predominantly male market.
  • The third category includes businesses that are location sensitive. This category, too, will broaden over time, but there are some obvious fits in the near term. The yellow pages industry, for example, identifies one such fit as “small radius” businesses — businesses that people will not drive very far to frequent, such as fast-food restaurants, supermarkets, and dry cleaners.

For forward-thinking businesses in these categories, wireless represents an opportunity to experiment, to learn to extend their relationships with their customers in new and (hopefully) value-added ways.

So, we’ve identified some groups of companies for which wireless is a good fit. But here comes the really tricky part: How do these poor souls figure out what to do next to actually execute a wireless ad program?

Tune in next week for an overview of the wireless media options out there today.

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