In the beginning we had SMS Push campaigns, where the user opted-in to receive alerts from advertisers, or triggered by an event such as going shopping in the mall. While this sounds like a great idea for advertisers and customers alike, the reality is that the execution is fraught with issues.
Firstly, it is expensive to send – meaning that many potential advertisers couldn’t justify the return on investment. Then there was the tricky problem of getting customers to opt in in the first place. Finally, while the definition of spam revolves around prior permission, the reality is that it depends on the context of when the message is received. If the customer gets it at the wrong time, in the wrong mood or even if the content wasn’t valuable, it’s simply condemned as spam.
The future for marketing via SMS is more about customer relationship management activities, like airlines sending travel updates or credit card companies sending transaction details, or for users to ‘pull’ information to their phones from other media. For instance, someone might send as SMS as a result of seeing a poster campaign to ask for stockists, or enter a competition they’ve seen on the product.
SMS Pull is already a well established technique and is one that will continue to grow. A recent report from M:Metrics found that 18.5% of UK adults had interacted in this way with a marketing campaign in the previous month alone.
Ultimately, marketing without an SMS short code will look as odd today as marketing material without a web address. Indeed, it’s possible that phone interaction will supersede the fixed web as the preferred communication channel, as it encourages immediate interactivity and thus higher responses.
As useful as SMS is, 2006 saw the launch of a new way for marketers to use the mobile channel – mobile web advertising. And unlike its predecessor, SMS Push, it’s proved unequivocally to generate consistently high results for the early adopters, with many claiming four times the ROI that they enjoy using the fixed web, which in turn is already a highly effective medium.
"The mobile has been transformed from a distribution channel into a highly effective marketing medium …"
So how does this work? Mobile advertising companies, such as AdMob, partner with mobile web sites that enjoy high traffic and offer to run advertising (text links today, with banners coming soon) on a revenue-share basis. Then they make this space available to advertisers via a self-serve web platform.
This allows most campaigns to be set up and run in a matter of minutes. Advertisers can target their campaigns according to the characteristics of mobile handset that the ad appears on, such as location, make of handset and phone capability.
For mobile content sellers, this has meant that the mobile has been transformed from a distribution channel into a highly effective marketing medium. All users need to do if they’re interested is click on a link and they get straight to the information.
Compare this to traditional TV ads, as an example, where potential respondents need to grab their phone, access the mobile web (assuming they know how to and have the right settings), type in a url and only then connect with the information.
The mobile advertising medium has proven to be so effective that AdMob has run nearly one billion ads since launching the platform in January 2006.
According to eMarketeer, marketing through mobile is poised to become the next killer app for advertisers. By 2011, brands will be spending nearly $5 billion on advertising, up from $421 in 2006.
Another important trend is that more mainstream brands are looking to establish their footprint on the mobile by creating their own mobile websites. Clearly, once a mobile website is built, it will need traffic and mobile advertising platforms will be able to deliver it. In addition, the coming years will also see significant moves in advertising-funded content, games and applications, as marketers grow in their sophistication in using the mobile medium.
The future for mobile marketing and the mobile web is now looking very exciting for all participants in the value chain, including for the all-important end user. Not only is mobile web advertising helping them to find content they’re looking for, but it’ll make products and services available at significantly less than they’re paying for them now.
It’s been a long wait, but mobile marketing has finally arrived.
Russell Buckley is MD of AdMob Europe. He is an established observer of and consultant on mobile advertising, and was one half of the team behind the respected MobHappy blog.
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