Mobile marketing and Beijing 2008

Mobile marketing and Beijing 2008 – The most heavily branded event the world has ever seen?

Stephen Dunford, CEO of Celltick

Stephen Dunford, CEO of Celltick

The numbers say it all; the Beijing Olympics were the most heavily branded event the world has ever seen. Between 8 and 24 August the world tuned into Beijing.

An estimated eight million consumers passed through the city to see the sporting pinnacle and immense cultural show that the Olympics have now become. Many of these consumers were Western tourists, with a lot of money to spend on themselves and their families back at home – a perfect target for advertisers.

Advertising at the Olympics was overcrowded, to say the least, with over 60 official Olympics sponsors targeting the millions of visitors that the city received during the two weeks. A global audience of four billion tuned into digital media coverage via television, internet and mobile before, during and after the event, in addition to ongoing brand outreach through official merchandising.

For smaller brands it was even more difficult to get involved within the media circus that surrounded the Games, which is traditionally monopolised by

multinational companies with large marketing budgets.

Yet for brands large or small, getting through to the consumer is never an easy task. For an elite sponsor, who would have paid around £100 million for their advertising deals, getting lost in the noise was not something they could afford to take.

In total, consumers were exposed to an average of 3,000 adverts a day during the Games and advertisers faced a very real need to differentiate in the way they engaged the consumer. With this level of mobile communications in such a large forum, premium brands as well as local businesses needed to find a unique way to engage with the distracted consumer and to capture their attention.

To the consumer the Olympics was a din of advertising: one billboard can look much like another; print advertising gets lost around Olympic scores; online banners are already subject to ad-blindness; TV commercials are the ideal time to grab a snack from the refrigerator so as not to miss a moment of Olympic history.

To raise the impact of their ad spending, advertisers needed to enrich their core advertising mix with a more targeted, relevant and personal media channel that could identify and speak to a specific target audience; namely, the mobile phone.

The mobile phone is an ideal medium to create a genuinely personal communication, particularly when advertising can be targeted to individual consumers based on a combination of location specific and time based profiling, in conjunction with user preference and demographic data.

Advertising and content is most powerful and effective when speaking directly with consumers based on who, what, where and when, not just ‘at the Olympics’. With the increase in internet usage on mobile phones, there is also a new opportunity for advertising and content to become even more engaging using the new functionalities available across the web.

To capitalise on this opportunity, some brands are now giving consumers the choice to receive advertising messages on the idle screen of their mobile phones, in combination with meaningful and relevant content. The idle screen is an interface that has historically been under-utilised as a marketing mechanism but is now beginning to emerge as a valid part of the marketer’s portfolio.

Without intruding on the functionality of the mobile phone such as calls and messaging, idle screen marketing can deliver messages to consumers in the one place they are most likely to check several times a day, adding value to their interaction with the device. This non-intrusive methodology generates its best results when consumers are tightly segmented, getting down to core attributes which define their likelihood to engage with the brand, including their location, the time of day and their interest in the product category.

By doing so, brands can create and target a defined, interested group of consumers, build a two way relationship with attention grabbing innovative content, and can ultimately trigger a significant increase in response rates driving online traffic and ultimately revenue to operators.

It is no longer enough for brands to channel their resources solely towards traditional advertising channels, and those who choose to do so will only fail to achieve cut-through in a crowded and competitive marketplace. The future for big brands is to spread their advertising budgets across more and more well chosen channels in order to maximise their impact on consumers, and events of the future, much like the Olympics, will demonstrate clearly who is embracing the next development of content distribution, and who is being left behind.

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