Yahoo! Campaigns for Mobile Marketing

As Yahoo works to expand usership and distribution of its mobile content, the portal is also courting advertisers. So far, the company has run three campaigns on its WAP portal over the last several months, in an effort to promote its sponsors and its data services.

“It’s obviously still very early, but with the exponential growth of the data market in the past year and the expected growth in the upcoming year, we were glad to get these programs off the ground and be able to learn,” said Elizabeth Harz, category development officer at Yahoo for telecommunications.

This week, Yahoo signed a deal with Nextel that marked the expansion of its mobile services to all of the major U.S. carriers — Sprint, Nextel, Verizon, Cingular and T-Mobile. The Nextel distribution gain makes Yahoo content, and marketing campaigns, accessible to most wireless subscribers in the U.S. that have data access. Through its WAP portal, the company offers access to services like Yahoo Mail, Messenger, News, Sports, Local Search, and Games.

Currently running on the portal is a campaign sponsored by Cingular called “The Ultimate Road Trip.” It promotes both Yahoo’s mobile Messenger application and Cingular’s wireless service.

Users can begin their participation either on the Web or via the WAP portal. A page in the WAP Portal urges them to sign up to win a 5-day luxury tour bus trip to various Western U.S. destinations. Once entered, participants win additional entries for using Yahoo Messenger on their phones.

The Road Trip campaign follows on the heels of another effort for Warner Brothers’ “Oceans 12” release. That three-week promotion also began with a text link on the WAP portal. Each week, a new question appeared on the mobile site. Users were quizzed on things such as where the heist took place in the film’s predecessor “Oceans 11.” Users had to text in answers via SMS, and received an entry for each question answered.

The first campaign of its type was the Custom Ride campaign, conducted in partnership with Verizon Wireless. That promotion gave users a chance to win a custom 1961 Oldsmobile, rewarding them whenever they logged in to Yahoo Mobile.

Yahoo hasn’t yet done any targeting of ads on the mobile platform, nor would it get specific about what demographics the clients were trying to reach. “Certainly Verizon and Cingular were really addressing a youth audience and trying to connect with them differently and use an experience that talks to their interests,” said Harz.

Harz declined to reveal click-through or pageview numbers, but would only say that the “sponsors of all three programs have been very pleased with this.”

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