Though the practice of mobile marketing is still in its infancy, the budding channel carries outsized expectations. But the ability to reach people anytime, anywhere, must be weighed carefully against the potential for irritating people and damaging brand relationships. How can marketers harness the power of this nascent medium to drive growth for their brands?
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According to The Shosteck Group, the value of the global mobile advertising market could reach $ billion by 2010. While this claim is 10 strongly reminiscent of the overblown estimates made by the Internet advertising start-ups in 1 999, advertisers don’t want to take a chance on missing the boat. Amidst the hype, major marketers are beginning to commit serious budgets to mobile marketing. While telecommunications companies led the way, pharmaceutical, fast food, automotive and consumer packaged goods companies are now climbing on board. They are all attracted by the promise of combining pinpoint targeting (of people, time and location) with the ability to extend a tangible brand encounter into a digital and interactive one. Mobile marketing, interpreted most broadly, could describe any approach to communicating with consumers while they're on the move: all manner of electronic devices (MP3 players, PDAs, etc.), as well as more traditional media such as outdoor advertising. However, at present, the most ubiquitous outlet for mobile marketing is the mobile phone, with over 2 billion subscribers worldwide. With penetration among young and old, rich and poor, the universe of mobile phone subscribers seems ripe for mass media applications. But techniques which succeed on television or the Internet can’t simply be transferred to the phone. On both the “first” and “second” screens, advertising grew up alongside the genre. However, advertising has come to the “third screen” at a point when it is already mature, both as a communication medium, and as an integral and personal part of people’s lives. Advertisers must tread carefully, taking into account the unique status of the mobile phone, to avoid alienating consumers and provoking a backlash. The Consumer Viewpoint: It’s MY Phone! Some people view the mobile phone as an indispensable lifeline to friends, family and colleagues; others regard it as a mixed blessing or a necessary evil. Either way, it is an essential tool for navigating life at the frenetic pace of the 2 century. Wherever people lie on this spectrum, 1st they all share the belief that their mobile phone belongs to them, not to the service carrier, and certainly not to advertisers. Even young people, the group most likely to engage with brands via this medium, are not enthusiastic about the idea of seeing ads on their phones. A study featured in the Yahoo! Summit Series (September 2005) reported that across China, India, and the United States, 1 to 24-year-olds were least favorable toward 3NIGEL HOLLIS Chief Global Analyst Millward Brown firstname.lastname@example.org www.millwardbrown.com
advertising on their personal electronic devices compared with other new or traditional media. The study highlighted the variation in acceptance of mobile advertising across countries: in India, 30 percent of youth were positive toward mobile phone advertising, versus 23 percent in China and 9 percent in the United States.
content providers, as well as network databases that promise, but rarely deliver, the ability to target individual users. All of these challenges are technical and tactical in nature. The ultimate challenge, however, is winning the hearts and minds of mobile phone users who are already bombarded by hundreds of marketing pitches every day. The flashiest new technology will not serve the cause of mobile marketing if it is used to serve up unwanted or irrelevant messages. Successful integration of mobile into the marketing mix must take...