Mobile Marketing Commentary

Over at Media Post's Online Media Daily, Angela Steele of Starcom USA opines on the future of Mobile Marketing. She identifies a number of challenges that lay ahead, but she sees light at the end of the tunnel. We've culled some highlights from her piece below:

Although mobile devices have penetrated nearly 80% of U.S. households and SMS has penetrated over one-third of all users, data services drastically lag behind. Only a fraction of consumers report using data services and the mobile Internet. It seems that in the rush to advance the mobile market, the consumer is the holdup.

If we truly want to maximize the marketing potential of mobile channels, we all need to rally around the consumer and encourage their mobile behaviors. Here's how.


The challenge is that mobile marketing cannot be successful as an added-on silo, but should be an integral component at the heart of the marketing plan. In the earliest stages of the planning process, smart marketers must ask, "What are the objectives of the campaign and how will mobile deliver on those objectives?" then decide early on which mobile strategies will enhance the broader campaign idea."

She identifies a number of key points to keep in mind:

We as marketers must offer value to be welcomed in consumers' beloved, personal devices -- or in any medium for that matter. Whether we're informing, entertaining, or enhancing existing mobile experiences, brand interactions need to offer something of relevance and value.

As marketers, we must befriend the carriers and cooperatively develop solutions to add non-intrusive, welcome value for the consumer.


What ultimately matters most is the ability to impact consumers and then prove that impact. Clients pay their agencies and wireless companies to impact consumers. Marketers have fixed budgets and therefore need to make choices among media channels.

Expected return is the driver of those choices, and without standardized, third-party metrics, mobile return is difficult to quantify and compare to widely accepted media options such as TV, print and online. In order to vie for fair share of the marketing pie, mobile needs to offer accountability standards comparable to other contact points in marketers' arsenals. The future success of the mobile channel depends upon standardized accountability.



Services like Club Texting's Opt-In SMS services for nightclubs, promoters, retail, and magazines addresses these challenges--customers choose to receive messages, which are comprised of content that they desire to know about, and they do so by simply messaging a phrase to a 5 character SMS short code, which overcomes the consumer accessibility/reluctance obstacle.


Microsoft Buys Tell Me, & Other News

News comes across the wires today reporting that Microsoft has bought TellMe, the nation's largest provider of voice activated mobile search technology:

MICROSOFT FINALIZED A DEAL WEDNESDAY to purchase TellMe, a directory assistance provider and voice-activated mobile search firm, giving Redmond a possible edge in the race to develop a better mobile search tool.

Greg Sterling, principal of Sterling Marketing Intelligence, said that despite the manual dexterity mobile search users are developing, using a tiny keyboard still offers a sub-par user experience.

"There's still usability problems that are pretty significant," he said. "Keying in search queries is awkward. This is really about improving usability, and driving consumer adoption."

Over at MediaPost's Mobile Insider Blog, reporter Steve Smith discusses some promising developments in mobile video--driven as he sees it by increasing localization and targeting of content:

In recent weeks, however, I am finding mobile video content that is good enough, sometime free enough, to merit attention. One quiet entrant in the race towards must-see mobile TV is Weathernews' LiveLocal service. This $4.99 a month application works because video is simply one piece of an excellent design that brings me all the local weather news I need in four screens. My default location pops up with an attractive image of the local weather cam, and I can flip through radar, forecast, alerts, and weather details in four clicks. But the best part of this service is that it also aggregates news stories from my local news stations. I get all the little newsy snippets from the morning, noon and evening telecasts, often within an hour of them airing. What makes this video work where so many others fail for me? Immediacy and relevance. The content is laser-targeted to my on-the-ground needs. There are too few applications right now that give us the local must-have info a mobile user needs in the car and on the street. There is a good reason why MapQuest is the most popular mobile app by a longshot. And LiveLocal has immediacy and on-demand choice. This information is very close to the surface of the deck, so I don't have to drill through menus and folders of the high-eyebrowed Katie Couric and bad Leno jokes to get what I want.

And on a lighter note, C|Net breaks down the history of the emoticon:

Author Vladimir Nabokov said in a 1969 New York Times interview that "there should exist a special typographical sign for a smile--some sort of concave mark, a supine round bracket."

Now, nearly four decades later, there is just such a typographical symbol-- :-), or :) for the minimalists, and it'd be tough to find a tech-savvy person who hasn't leaned on it. There's also a special typographical symbol for a frown-- :-( -- and one for a cool dude in sunglasses -- B-) -- and one for a wink -- ;-). There's even a typographical sign for wearing a baseball cap-- d=D.

These are emoticons (or emotive icons), the arrangements of letters and symbols that have been inserted into e-mails, message board posts, and instant messages since the fledgling days of the Internet. "Fledgling days," in this case, refers not to the mid-'90s when people were beginning to learn what AOL was, but to the early '80s, when accessing the Internet was largely limited to research universities and defense contractors.


News Roundup: Recent Developments In Mobile / SMS Marketing #3

MediaPost's Marketing Daily reports that McDonald's is reviving its 'Morning Impaired' Marketing Campaign, integrating online video, as well as SMS messaging:

The company said it's reupping the effort that it crafted to promote its breakfast menu offerings. This time around, consumers will be invited to create videos about their own morning challenges--like maybe how hard it is to get up and get moving.
The way the new contest works is that consumers offer their e-mail addresses in exchange for a code to print out a coupon for a free sausage McGriddles sandwich. Consumers can upload their videos to Then they cast votes for their favorite clips on the site. McDonald's will select three people to serve as characters on the site describing what makes their mornings particularly dysfunctional.
But that's not all: Consumers who opt-in to receive more marketing messages from the company can receive short codes via their cell phones, prompting even more offers.

We also hear that "FOX NEWS CHANNEL IS THE latest net to strike a deal with Third Screen Media to carry ads paired with its TV content, reports TV Week. Third Screen provides the software to deliver ads on cell phones. Other nets that work with the company include CBS and ESPN."

Finally, Textually rounds up some articles about IN2U, Calvin Klein's new 'Text Speak Fragrance':

Calvin Klein's new fragrance, "in2u" is targeted at the hip 20-somethings of the MySpace generation, with a name that draws on text message shorthand used by the so-called "technosexuals" - a buzzword Calvin Klein trademarked last year. The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

"The cylindrical white plastic and glass bottles - the brainchild of famed New York designer Stephen Burks - clearly draw inspiration from the iPod, which itself has become a generation Y icon.

It launches with it's own social network, where hipsters are being invited to create their profiles prior to the launch - "register now connect later," the site implores.

The fragrance - available in both his and hers versions - will go on sale in the United States and Europe April 1."

Read also related articles from The New York Times.


Mobile Coupons

Today we hear over at the Indianalopis Star that Hardee's has been experimenting with a new kind of coupon:

Hardee's customers in Indianapolis and St. Louis can download coupons to their cell phone for free and then show the phone to a cashier for a discount.

There are a lot of important things going on here, the first of which is, that the decision to roll out this new promotion was predicated on who Hardee's hoped to reach, and how they hoped to appeal to those customers:


There's something that just seems wrong about a 45-year-old woman clipping coupons so she can inhale two 1,410- calorie Monster Thickburgers for the price of one.

At least that's what the executives at Hardee's thought.

So the fast-food chain turned to technology to get its coupons into the hands of its core customers -- young men who aren't exactly watching their weight.

It's too early to draw conclusions, but "We've gotten some positive feedback from a couple of restaurants. It's too early to talk about redemption," said Steve Lemley, vice president of marketing for St. Louis-based Hardee's. The whole idea of electronic couponing was new to us."

Indeed, it's still new to many companies. However, the more that companies like Hardee's dabble, the more the cell phone is becoming a popular tool for marketing and advertising.
Currently, the most popular methods of engaging customers involve text messaging, to enter a sweepstakes, to get alerts about products or to vote for something, like your favorite American Idol.

The most important gem is buried at the bottom of the article:

Overall, about 42 percent of cell-phone users are open to advertising if it's relevant, if they asked for it or if they will get coupons or free services, according to the market research firm Yankee Group.

Put that figure in context--email inboxes are overrun with spam, more and more people are using their Tivos and DVRs to fast forward through commercials, newspaper circulation is declining, and savvy web surfers are blocking pop-ups and ignoring banner ads in greater numbers every day.

Source : IndyStar

News Roundup: Recent Developments In Mobile / SMS Marketing #2

The perennially hip SXSW festival will be making all sorts of information available to their attendees via SMS:


All band and film schedules will be available on demand to attendees' mobile devices via interactive SMS. Important festival information will be available on the go by texting requests to Wiredset's 56658 shortcode.

In addition to the on-demand schedule, attendees can sign up for text alerts on the SXSW web site. Band, film listings and festival updates are available to cell phone users and SXSW registrants can get alerts and updates specific to their badge type such as last-minute schedule changes, special events and breaking news. (PR Newswire)


R&B group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony have just launched a mobile fan club:

Mobile marketing company Smart SMS Corp. and  R&B recording artists Bone Thugs-N-Harmony have entered into an agreement to launch the group’s first-ever   mobile fan club. The venture will allow music fans to receive texts with artist-related updates and enter to win a variety of prized memorabilia,  including tickets to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s upcoming concert tour. Smart SMS and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony will split the net revenue on each 99 cent premium text message. (BusinessWire)

Meanwhile, in Europe, Random House is promoting the release of a new book via SMS:


Book publisher Random House is offering consumers the chance to read the first chapter of its new book for free on mobile.


It has partnered with content provider ICUE to provide a service which delivers the opening chapter of its latest business manual, 'Life's A Pitch' via SMS.

Consumers are also sent details on how to claim a 40% discount from shops on the book itself. (NMA)

Find The Nearest Starbucks With An SMS

While many publications have been buzzing  over the launch of Starbucks' new SMS store locater service, you know SMS has gone mainstream when the service's debut merits mention in everyone's favorite tabloid, The New York Post:

By sending a text message with your ZIP code to "MYSBUX," customers will receive the address of up to three nearby Starbucks, plus their phone numbers. There is no charge beyond a cellphone user's regular text-messaging fees.

The company has also created a specially formatted locator to fit the small screens of Web-enabled mobile devices such as the BlackBerry or Treo. Customers can tap into the store locator at and get the nearest locations, plus info such as the closest WiFi stores, in addition to directions and maps.

The service is also linked to in-car GPS navigation systems.

If you're interested in the tech specs on this project, head over to the MSDN blog to learn how Starbucks utilized Microsoft's MapPoint Web Service 

Mobile Marketing Success Stories, Pt. 1

Although the mobile marketing industry is still in its infancy, we're hearing more and more tales of successful campaigns. Each story like the one below that lands in our inbox, is one more affirmation of the coming explosion in the mobile marketing space.

Mobile Insider reports that MVNO Boost Mobile partnered with mobile community provider AirG to produce a successful campaign for West Coast Customs, a popular California car customizer. The response was overwhelming--over 1.5 million entries:

Those 1.5 million entries came in almost entirely via the phone in a 90-day span. Keep in mind that Boost Mobile is an MVNO form Sprint Nextel aimed at the youth market. It only has 3.8 million customers.
Part of the secret sauce for this campaign was careful media planning and targeting on the front end. “We don’t think this would have worked on another network,” says Ghahramani. “The offer doesn’t resonate with the demographic or the user. But with Boost Hookt you got urban youth who care about pimping out their cars.”

The 'secret sauce,' of course, is based upon one of the most desirable principles of mobile marketing--that you can target and directly reach exactly the type of consumer who will respond to your campaign.

When you plan properly, the results speak for themselves:

In fact, the winner of the pimped-out car at the center of this contest was a young Jersey man who was a gas station attendant and one of ten kids in his family. A $40,000 tricked-out car was exactly the lure he would have wanted. The contest, the delivery vehicle, and the offer apparently hit their target dead-on.

Here's Mobile Insider's take on the power of targeting:

Getting 1.5 million entries off of a niche audience on a small carrier in 90 days is a good indication of how powerful the medium can be when marketers really hit their relevancy target. On mobile, media planning could be king. Aligning just the right offer with just the right target via just the right content may become the mobile marketer’s delicate dark art. Which is to say that mobile requires all the same disciplines that make all forms of digital marketing work… only more so.

Check the source to read more details about the campaign:

Club Texting - Mobile Marketing For Nightclub Owners & So Much More

ClubTexting, the parent of this blog, opened for business a year ago with a radical marketing proposition--allow nightclub patrons to use their cellphones to opt in to read about promotions and events in the palm of their hands. Instead of relying on promoters to hand out flyers to people who may or may not be interested, opt-in mobile messaging allows you to speak directly to customers who want to know about what your venue has to offer them.

What differentiates ClubTexting from so many other similar mobile messaging services, is that ClubTexting allows customers to sign up with their thumbs--not by heading to a website, not by writing their name on a form, and not by sending them to a WAP site--with ClubTexting, Customers opt-in to the service by sending a text message with your venue name to the number 25827 (Clubs). That's it.

The possibilities for a venue owner looking to sign up loyal patrons are endless. Do you often have long lines outside of your venue? What better way to impress upon your customers the value for them of signing up for your service than having a bouncer or a rep. walk down the line handing out cards with your keyword?

DJ's can call out the short code--"Text VenueX to CLUBS to sign up for our VIP list." You can post signs inside your venue with your new keyword. And of course, you can integrate your new mobile marketing campaigns with your existing campaigns. If you print flyers add your keyword to them and see just how effectively you are reaching potential customers. If you've spent the last few years cultivating an email database, you now have a new way to exploit that asset--when you send your weekly list of events you can let your customers know about your keyword.

Text Messaging is not just another way to communicate with your customers; it's a better way. Today no one goes anywhere without their cell phone, which means that with a ClubTexting account, you have permanent, 24/7 access to your customers. And not just any customers, customers who want to hear from you! Further, ClubTexting is unique because it allows your customers to easily let you know that they want to hear from you with a few taps on the keys of their phone. Why send them to a website--as other providers often make them--when you can allow them to sign up right then, right there, with the device on which they will receive the actual messages?

Once you've built up a list of customers, sending them messages is simple. Just log on to the ClubTexting website, compose a message in our simple form, and click Send.

While ClubTexting was originally conceived with venue owners in mind, the service has rapidly expanded, rolling out solutions tailored for event marketersretailers, and magazines. Check back Friday to hear about how magazine publishers are implementing mobile marketing strategies.

News Roundup: Recent Developments In Mobile / SMS Marketing

The growth of the Mobile Marketing sector continue to be dramatic. SMS short codes are proliferating. Patrons waiting on line outside of nightclubs text their way onto VIP lists, so that they can skip the lines next weekend. House hunters send off text messages to interactive ad displays in the windows of real estate brokers' offices. Every day brings new developments. Here are some of the most exciting new uses of mobile technology:

New York Magazine Mobile: New Yorkers (or tourists) can send the name of a restaurant or bar to the short code GONYC, and within moments they will receive the establishments address, phone number, and other info. If you don't know the name of the place you're looking for you can send in a a type of cuisine and a zip code or neighborhood. You can also punch in 'bar' and a zip to get a list of recommended bars in that area.

Bluetooth Campaign Targets Theatergoers:  Square Group has revealed the results of an experiment it has been running with Bluecasting at the Noel Coward Theatre in London. The company installed a Bluetooth transmitter from Alterwave in the theatre. When someone with an active Bluetooth device walks past the transmitter, it sends out a message offering them a free video clip from the puppet show, 'Avenue Q', which is playing at the theatre.

In the first seven days of the experiment, says Square Group, 9,595 active Bluetooth devices were detected and sent messages. Of these, 703 people accepted the offer of the video download – an average of 87 people each day. (Via Textually)


Down2Night - "The guys over at Synapse Life (a productivity suite) released today a new mobile nightlife service called Down2Night. Down2Night lets you use your cell phone to post and receive notices of events that are going on at your favorite local venues. Seattle is the first city covered by the service.

In contrast to a mobile coupon service like Movoxx, which pushes their nightlife deals to your phone, Down2Night has a web interface that lets you pick venues, add, and vote for the events that show up on your phone. Each night of the week you choose, Down2Night will send updates of the top voted event for each venue you’re subscribed to. The top event can be something listed by the venue’s owner, or even a big birthday bash being held that night. As the service grows, the most likely business model is the local advertising market. Everyone, though, is eager to get a hold of the elusive 18-35 crowd that makes up Down2Night’s target market." (Via TechCrunch)

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Mobile Marketing & The Nightlife Industry: The Basics

As recently as a few years ago, the average nightclub’s marketing efforts amounted to a team of promoters passing out flyers to whomever he saw fit. But then email marketing stormed on to the scene, and today, you would be hard pressed to find a nightclub without an electronic marketing strategy. By harvesting a database of patrons’ email addresses, nightclub owners were suddenly able to reach their customers directly. Smart nightclub owners sought out event marketing firms able to marry these databases to detailed demographic information. Gone were the days of randomly passed out flyers; instead, a nightclub owner could target females with a certain income residing in a certain zip code, who reported going out a certain number of nights a week.

While these efforts were great successes, they do not represent the pinnacle any longer. Once again, technology is allowing intelligent, forward-thinking nightclub owners to reach ever more precise, and ever more interested customers—increasing Return On Investment (ROI) and building lasting relationships. SMS and other text messaging technologies, which might be unfamiliar to you, are an ingrained part of life for most nightclubs’ target demographic. The 18 – 34 crowd has grown up with cell-phones in their hands, and they have been texting for the better part of a decade.

Just as email shifted the paradigm of nightlife marketing, mobile SMS marketing will do the same. A customer, particularly in the typical target demographic is rarely without cell phone in hand. Customers are now available 24 hours a day. And of course not just any customers, rather selectively targeted customers. For a generation who came of age dependent upon their cell phones, constant connectivity has altered their habits. Plans can change, and friends can be alerted. Nightclub owners can exploit this, sending out reminders, and offers, hours before, or even as events are occurring.

How can nightclub owners exploit mobile marketing to draw crowds?

Owners can send out drink specials to be known only by those in the know. They can send out invites, which customers can flash at the door. The possibilities are endless. And just like email, the messages can be forward on by the customers to their friends. A wittily worded offer can spread amongst friends’ phones like a viral video making the email rounds.

Mobile marketing need not stop at the door. Owners can text patrons inside their club special offers all night, rewarding them for their loyalty, at the same time compelling them to stick around by making them feel as if they are in on something that others are not aware of.

Text Messaging is growing at a rapid pace. Nearly 65 Billion Text Messages were sent in the US in the first six months of 2006, a gain of almost 100%. With about half of US cellular subscribers utilizing text messaging—heavily weighted among those under 34—this amounts to about 80 text messages a month per user. While this may seem like a large figure, remember for a moment that the US is still considered a laggard at SMS adoption when compared to Europe.

Do you have a mobile marketing strategy yet?

SMS Revenues Set To Explode By 2012

The ClubTexting Blog has believed that SMS-derived revenues will continue to show tremendous growth for a long time, and a recently released research brief from Portio Research confirms this:

A new report from Portio Research forecasts a healthy future for SMS, which continues to be the star of the data services show with traffic volumes and revenues that continue to confound predictions. Although the growth of SMS revenues will not be as aggressive as the growth of SMS volumes due to declining prices, by 2012 global SMS revenues are expected to reach 67bn USD, driven by 3.7 trillion messages.

Yes,  that's 67, followed by nine zeros! While Asia will add about one billion new subscribers by 2012. To realize that astounding increase, "in the five minutes it takes to read this press release and in every subsequent five minute period for the next six years, 2,267 people will have bought their first ever mobile phone."

Lest the US seem left out, Portio finds that, "the US market has grown much faster than expected."

There is a $67 Billion dollar pie baking in the over--do you offer your customers mobile data content yet? Do you have a mobile marketing strategy yet? Do you communicate to your customers via SMS, "the cheapest, quickest and easiest to use form of peer-to-peer mobile communication?"

If not, perhaps it's time.

Exciting New Developments For Mobile Marketing

Will 2007 be the year that Mobile Marketing goes mainstream? It appears so.

On Wednesday, Media Technology Futures highlighted a few interesting developments:

In Europe, mobile phone operators are taking the lead with the likes of Vodafone partnering with Google (to pair Internet searches with link-based advertising) and Yahoo (to develop banner ads and short videos). Yahoo is displaying ads on WAP sites accessible to subscribers with advanced mobile phones in 19 countries. The mobile customer will see the ads when they hit Yahoo's home page on their phones. By clicking on the ad, the phone will dial the company directly or send more information. Companies that are working with Yahoo include P&G, Intel and Pepsi in countries like the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Brazil and India.

A company in the Netherlands, HotSMS , is currently delivering a free, ad-sponsored SMS offer.

In the U.S. Sugar Mama is offering prepaid customers additional minutes as long as they watch online ads, answer questions by SMS or fill out surveys about products and services. Xero Mobile is targeting the college market (true gabbers, as we all know) with subsidized talk time in exchange for viewing advertising.

Meanwhile, Hearst Magazines, the publisher of many popular magazines, is rapidly expanding its mobile offerings, recognizing that the time has come to reach their readers in new, innovative ways:

New mobile sites for Seventeen, Cosmo Girl, and Cosmopolitan are now available in the magazines section of Verizon Wireless' Mobile Web 2.0 service. Sites for Esquire, Good Housekeeping, House Beautiful, Popular Mechanics, and Redbook are on the way, along with additional carrier deals.

What spurred the move?

But as consumers and advertisers migrate away from print, Hearst is making a bigger push to beef up mobile. "The new mobile sites for all of our magazines will have richer, more interactive content and will be tied more closely to the magazine's editorial content, in addition to being free to any consumer," said one company spokeswoman.

Just what sort of shift are we looking at? Is it a minor one? Or are we witnessing the first rumblings of a complete realignment of the mediascape? Ask CBS:

UNDERSCORING ITS AMBITIONS FOR THE so-called third screen, CBS on Wednesday announced the creation of CBS Mobile as a new division within CBS Interactive.

Among its mobile ventures to date, CBS has struck content deals with wireless partners including MediaFlo, a division of Qualcomm, Verizon's V-Cast service, Amp'd Mobile and Cingular. It has also introduced video breaking news alerts for CBS News and text-message voting for shows including the Emmy Awards, among other mobile plays.




Mobile Marketing: The Next Great Advertising Platform

    2007—already dubbed by many the year of the iPhone—will likely be remembered as the year that the handheld advertising market exploded in to an essential distribution platform, especially for marketers looking to reach the much desired 18 – 34 demographic.
    Unlike radio, television, and even the internet, mobile marketing promises to deliver advertisers narrowly targeted, uniquely personal messages, broadcast to multiple users on diverse platforms. An advertiser who implements a mobile marketing plan is now able to reach users via text messages (SMS), the mobile web, enhanced multimedia messages, rich content (ringtones, ringbacks, graphics, & games), and even voice and video.
    A nightclub owner can send patrons on his opt-in VIP text list a short message about a drink special that evening, or, he could send out an invitation, which the patron could show the bouncer, rewarding the loyal patron with expedited entry.
    Well known female oriented magazines send out weekly text blasts filled with tips on food, clothing, exercise, and more.
    People vote for American Idol contestants on their cell-phones, and cast ballots in the MVP polls for major sporting events.
    Instead of the bottom of a soda bottle cap having printed on it, "You win a free liter of soda," you now text in a special code to the number that spells out the name of the beverage company.

    As mobile web browsers mature, the speed of American cellular networks increases, and the screen sizes of phones and other handheld devices expands, a presence on the mobile web will be as essential for your business as a regular web presence is for it today.
    Why 2007? When you combine an ever-growing group of Americans who have grown up experiencing cell-phones as a part of their everyday lives, with the maturation of data services, and the imminent arrival of the iPhone, it becomes clear that we have reached a tipping point. Cellular data services have been around for a long time—witness the popularity of the Blackberry in the business world—and it seems that the release of the iPhone or an imitator will likely put us over the top. MP3’s and digital music files, as well as portable MP3 players were around before the iPod came out; it was the iPod’s runaway success as not just a technological marvel, but a status symbol, that led us to a 2007 where older adults who are afraid to use a computer have their children (and grandchildren) load up iPods with their favorite music for them.
    And this brings us back to the rise of the mobile marketing platform. As users become more and more comfortable using their cellular phones as more than just phones, whether because of device functionality convergence (eg a Cameraphone, an MP3 Player/Phone) or the rise in popularity of rich-media products such as ringtones and mobile applications, users will understand, respond to, and come to expect personalized mobile marketing campaigns delivered to the palm of their hand. 


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