mobile marketing

Marketing Live 2010, Bratislava

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I have finally found the time to write about the Marketing Live conference in Bratislava, Slovakia. I was really impressed by both the organisation and line up of speakers. Slovakia are EU members and have the Euro, however I felt that when it came to digital marketing, the Slovkians saw themselves as less sophisticated than their western European colleagues. I didn’t feel that was the case and the presentations showed that digital media is alive and progressing in Slovakia. The greatest difference was probably more market size: Slovakia is a small country of 5 million people and has a developing economy. It means that their home market has fewer people and less disposable income than other countries. Even then, the differences didn’t appear to be that vast.
One thing that was clear from going to the conference is that our needs, wants and aspirations are largely the same around the world. Regardless of governments or even culture, we are all driven by roughly the same things. Given that digital marketing is essentially about understanding these issues and our relationships to the technology, it means that things are similar the world over.
My mobile marketing presentation seemed to be well received (or maybe they were being polite) and I met some interesting people from the area. It was a pleasure to meet social media guru Chris Abrahams and enjoyed a couple of good nights out in Bratislava with him. His blog on the conference is here.
My thanks also have to go to the conference organisers for putting on a great event and making me feel extremely welcome.

Top Ten predicitions for mobile in 2009: were they right?

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A year ago I wrote a mu top 10 predcitions in mobile and mobile marketing for 2009. Was I right? I have marked myself on the accuracy of the predictions. Have I been too generous in my assessment? Comments welcomed!

• SMS will grow continue to grow
10/10 – according to the MDA SMS in June 08 was 6 billion and 7.7 billion in June 09, a rise of 28% (and that’s in a recession). SMS marketing has followed suit.

* Bluetooth marketing will grow
7/10 – It hasn’t been the stuff of headlines, but during the last year Bluetooth marketing has been rolled out in a number of commuter networks and shopping centres. For many of these public networks the focus has been on vouchering to drive sales. With an average download rate of 5% of footfall, expect to see the Bluetooth marketing trend continuing.

• QR will become more commonplace
5/10 – the problem is still that many handsets do not have the readers installed. However, some high profile brands have conducted campaigns in the last year. Such as Pepsi and M&S who used QR codes on juice packs for their discount promotion. The advantage of using QR was that it was easy to use where there was limited space on the packaging.

* MMS will grow … but it will continue to remain niche
10/10 – According to the MDA figures there was a rise of 11% in MMS usage in the UK between June 08 (44 million) and June 09 (49 million). In comparison to SMS it remains small.

* Mobile Couponing and Ticketing will increase
7/10 – Juniper predicts that 300 million people will be using them in the next 5 years. Many retail brands have recently taken the plunge into mobile coupons. However these have often been small scale trials. One problem that plagues such campaigns is the redemption issue, where stores cannot integrate barcodes or sales staff enter the wrong voucher number into the system.

* Network Operator Location Based Services (LBS) will NOT take off
8/10 – I predicted that the costs form network operators would be a major barrier to LBS. In that respect I was correct, however, LBS has taken off in mobile apps using the GPS built into smartphones. In the branded sector this has typically taken the form of store finders, although apps such as Last Minute’s NRU have shown how LBS can enhance a brand’s image.

• Mobile internet overtakes PC based internet use
5/10 – There are no current figures for the UK, however Europe and worldwide figures show significant growth in mobile internet usage. Newer developments such as the iphone and Twitter have driven this increase. Mobile will take over from fixed internet but it will take another few years before it happens.

* Mobile security will become a bigger issue
7/10 – It may not have made the headline news, but there were many examples of mobile phone ‘cracking’ and phishing attempts this year. Using technology company, 41st Parameter reported that the increase in both smartphones and mobile operating system has led to an increase in fraud attempts. Last year saw mobile banking phishing sites for the first time. In the UK, a number of unsolicited campaigns by accident claims companies and the sale of data by a T-Mobile employee led to greater media awareness of the problem.

* Targeted and Niche Advertising will grow
7/10 – There have been some significant changes in the mobile advertising sector: new operator initiatives, such as the Orange and Blyk partnership and Google’s acquisition of Admob. Although there has been some growth in the sector, the major ramp up in mobile advertising is predicted for 2010 and beyond.

• The Iphone will become ‘just another phone’
2/10 – Although Apple remains third placed in the smartphone market, behind Nokia and RIM’s Blackberry (for which I gabe myself the two points!), the iphone has consolidated it’s position as the handset by which all others are judged. It also won a ‘coolest brand’ of the year award in the UK. Similarly, brands, from Nike to NatWest, have made their iphone apps the centre of their mobile marketing initiatives.

What will mobile advertising look like in 2020?

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Ogilvy, the advertising agency, have produced an interesting White Paper report into the state of mobile advertising in the year 2020. I often tend to find these things either very tedious or self-indulgent, but this report is really excellent. First of all, it is written with the minimum of technical and ad jargon. And secondly, it makes sense:

‘Mobile advertising in 2020 will be mobile directed advertising. It is about collaboration and individual control. The mobile device will enable the individuals to decide where, when and on what screen they would like to receive their chosen advertisement.’

I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been harping on about how personal the phone is and that advertisers need to take this into account. The report sensibly suggests that in future consumers will choose the advertising or marketing they want, and not the other way round. Roll on 2020!

Why Mobile augmented reality will not succeed

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The hot topic at the moment seems to be mobile AR. Google’s Goggles is a recent example of how augmented reality seems to be taking off. According a this piece in MobiAd News, we may have already reached the tipping point. There’s lots of interesting stuff in the article, and I agree that AR is likely to be brand led. However, I have a problem with AR. I’m just not that sure if there is a broad appeal to users. Yes, it is innovative. Yes it can be fun and interesting. It can even be useful.

However, we have seen time and again that it is not the technology that drives the channel, but the users. Take video calling. Seems like a nice idea, but who uses it? No one I know, that’s for sure. Perhaps it has a niche use, but will never move beyond that. Similarly look at MMS. Has it replaced SMS? No, far from it. There were over 7.7 billion text messages sent in the UK last month, and less than 50 million multimedia messages. So MMS represents less than 1% of the total messages sent in the UK. So, for most users, sending a picture is not an enhancement they particularly needed. SMS did the job just fine thanks.

It’s the same for augmented reality on mobile. Does it offer something sufficiently useful, beneficial? Would I bother to turn my camera on and point it at something, when my mobile maps give me the same information BEFORE I even reach my destination? And ultimately, how well will it work? Many of the AR developments will require a good, reliable data connection. Something that is not always easy to find. So if the AR function doesn’t work, I will simply get the information through a simpler, less band-width heavy application that I know will work.

Juniper Research has stated that AR already has broad adoption, and that the market will be worth $730 by 2014. I find these predictions surprising to say the least.

I believe that AR is a nice, fun concept, but just as MMS, it will remain niche.

Mobile Ad Spend up 42% in 2010 …

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… that’s according to an article at

A senior research analyst has predicted the market for the next five years as growing at the following rate:

2009 : $416 million
2010 : $593 million
2011 : $830 million
2012 : $1140 million
2013 : $1560 million

That’s great new from the industry, and who am I to question a senior analyst in a reputable online research company?

However, I would always recommend taking these kinds of figures with a pinch of salt. I can see that there are grounds for this prediction: Google’s acquisition of Admob for $750 is a good argument in favour of mobile advertising’s rise. However, is $1.5 billion by 2013 actually a realistic figure? Who knows? What I do know is that predictions like this get bandied around the industry and quickly become irrefutable facts that are often quoted. Yes, mobile advertising will grow, but I would suggest taking this kind of analysis with a pinch of salt.

Top Ten Yahoo Mobile Searches

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Yahoo have just published a great review of the 2009. It will be online until Dec 30th and makes for some interesting reading.

One bit of information to come out of this are the list of top ten mobile searches. In 2009 they were as follows:

1. London
2. Premier League
3. Big Brother
4. Champions League
5. Katie Price
6. Lottery
7. Weather
8. Mail
9. Cricket
10. Michael Jackson

Although web search is dominated by Google, it is worth noting that in mobile search, Yahoo is a significant player. The top searches make some interesting points about the way that users engage with the mobile web. Typically it is to access small, specific pieces of information: location related information, football (and other sports) scores, the weather and lottery numbers. The Yahoo results bear this out. Yet looking at all searches (both fixed internet and mobile), the results are somewhat different:

1. Big Brother
2. X Factor
3. Job centre
4. Michael Jackson
5. Jade Goody
6. Premier League
7. Swine Flu
8. Katie Price
9. Cheryl Cole
10. Train Times

Looking at all web searches, the focus is much more on entertainment (6 out of the top 10), whereas mobile searches are more information based (7 out of the top 10). It tells us that the mobile web is different. Brands should recognise this, and tailor their mobile web offerings accordingly.

Twitter using SMS to help brands to connect to users

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A news report this week explained how a trial, run by a third party, on Twitter has allowed brands to connect with users through SMS.
Having read the article I can honestly say that I don’t really understand what the service is or how it works! The principle seems to be that it uses mobile marketing to get users to connect to their Twitter feed. But, if the service is unclear, who will use it?

In a month long trial the company claims that brands had an increase of between 66% and over 3,000% in user uptake. Of course, they didn’t say what the starting point was for each brand.

Apparently a major brand has now signed up for the full advertising service.

But I’m still confused! What’s the revenue model – ie who is paying for it and who is making the money? The companies involved haven’t said. I presume it’s the brands that pay for the advertising, but I am not convinced of the benefit. OK, more people sign up to your feed. Fair enough. But that in itself does not bring business. It comes back to my long-standing issue with social media, and Twitter in particular. I do not believe they are advertising media. Twitter itself has no commercial model (yet), and advertising is not welcomed by its users. Social media sites are good places for users to engage with brands, give feedback and for other CRM activities, but I don’t see it as a sales channel. I would love someone to show me where brands have achieved measurable sales from social media.

Personally I don’t see how this new Twitter service will take off.

Mobile Research into Spam SMS

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Finally, after some weeks of writing and designing, or mobile research study into Spam SMS is published.

The study reveals some interesting things:
90% of respondents had received mobile marketing messages
68% of people have received unsolicted text messages
34% of people would complain to their operator about it
53% would like to choose the time of day to receive messages
66% think that clicking a link in a spam SMS will make a charge to their phone bill

That’s the downside from a marketing point of view, but it also revealed some positive things:
62% of people did not thing that Mobile Spam was on the increase
55% of people were happy to accept marketing messages where there were offers from specifically opted in companies

In short, it would seem that most people have a narrow permission spectrum when it comes to mobile marketing: most people are happy to get messages but only where they are offers that they have specifically asked for. However, stepping over that line means that messages may just be regarded as spam. And in the world of mobile, where things are highly personal, that means damaging the reputation of a brand.

Click here to download the Mobile Research into Spam SMS

It’s still all about iphone Apps

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Speaking to prospective clients about marketing campaigns, the focus is still very much on iphone apps. To some extent it is the inevitable fact that these apps can be exciting, add functionality and best of all, they gain external PR.
I was recently approched by a luxury brand, who wanted to make a mobile offering. As usual, I outlined the options, form SMS to mobile web. I pointed out that most of their clients were Blackberry users (who represent nearly double the number of iphone users) and that the Blackberry App may be the best way forward. And guess what? They still want the iphone App.

The iphone demographics suggested that over 70% are men. Shame really as most of the decision makers/buyers in the luxury goods market (even men’s products) are women. And 90% of apps are opened once or never at all!

Ultimately I guess for a brand it’s all about impressing people. It would seem that an iphone app is the best way to do that.

Marketing and Mobile Social Media

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I have just completed a webinar on Mobile marketing and mobile social media.

Not an easy subject to talk on. Talking about mobile marketing campaigns is easy. That is my area of expertise. Social media, fine. Not my greatest area of expertise, but I know enough about it. Mobile social media? Well what is there to say about it? OK, Facebook has 65million of it’s 250million subscribers accessing through their mobile phones. That’s quite interesting. Orange’s Exposure 2 study also showed that many people are accessing social media through their phones.

What about mobile specific social media? Whilst there are many dedicated sites, they are tiny in their usage. The most successful ones are essentially dating sites.
So what about marketing in mobile social media? Hmm. There really isn’t alot to say because it just isn’t happening.

One problem is that social media, is having trouble making money. Facebook has only just turned a profit and that is way out, the largest social networking site out there. Myspace is loosing money, and Twitter has no revenue at all!

When it comes to mobile, the advertising opportunities in social media are limited. Facebook doesn’t have any on it’s mobile site, and again, Twitter doesn’t have any at all. The best way that brands can engage is through customer relationship and reputation management. Southwest Airlines are an excellent example of this. They have a team to look for dissatisfaction and contact those people to resolve the problem. But that is not specifically a mobile issue, that is just brands engaging well with all social media.

So, what is the answer for marketing in mobile social media? I really don’t know!