Mobile Marketing Association Forum 2010

Published at OnIslam.net

“It is not about the phone being mobile, it is (about) us.”BMW’s Marc Mielau, speaking at the Mobile Marketing Association’s (MMA) forum in London which took place on the 5th and 6th of October.

Marketing, of course, needs little introduction. The same can be said for Mobile. Yet when these two technologies are brought together, we are faced with an interesting paradigm: the ability to advertise content to any user anywhere.

Culturally, the implications of this philosophy will vary across geographies where not only new markets are being created, but unexpected markets are driving the lead for innovation.

As a conglomerate, BMW have at their disposal vast marketing resources. Yet in launching a new car they publically chose to go against the grain launching a website “www.dontblogaboutthis.com(e drive it!)”. Tapping into another digital offering – social media – their facebook campaign has received more than 2.2 million fans. Of these, about half have chosen to access the fan page via their mobile phones. In this competition that is still running, three lucky winners will be allowed the chance to be co-pilots when a new BMW car is announced.

Free Voice Heard

Moving swiftly to Africa where fixed internet is almost non-existent, Jonathan McKay from Praekelt Consulting observed that of the billion or so residents of the continent, the mobile phone is the only communication tool with some 45% of the population carrying one. These aren’t smart phones but mostly entry level devices.

Still, working with Guinness Nigeria, they drove a campaign on mobile phones offering free voice minutes in two phases. The first generated a 17% response rate, the second, a 36% response. Individuals and communities responding through the only means of communication, the mobile phone, thus laying even stronger foundations for the brand – any brand – that chooses to create a presence in the market.

Closer to home we witness similar ‘free’ promotions offered in Turkey. What actually began as a free music campaign swiftly transformed into a free voice minutes campaign as Pepsi acknowledged that while illegal, consumers were able to download free music anyway thus the promotion was irrelevant.

Ugur Oglu, the regional marketing director for Pepsi, showed how the company took a leading TV host, Sidal, made her the face of their a ‘Pepsi makes your day’ campaign offering free voice minutes alongside recorded calls from her. The campaign was so successful involving more than 25 million participants that their competitors in the region took to offering similar initiatives.

Speaking of whom, Jude Brooks, the digital activation manager from Coca-cola for the UK provided the case study of the Fanta voice changer. Initially run in France, the initiative allowed friends to call one another for a minute at a time where their voices would be altered. Targeting those aged between 12 and 19, more than 650,000 calls were processed.

Case study after case study show that the underlying message is that technologies must be used as a way of engagement, creating an exchange between the brand or content supplier and the end consumer. Unless the consumer perceives a sense of relevance which itself translates into meaningful value, the consumer will become uninterested and eventually frustrated as their private space is being interfered with.

Audi in Antartica

Thomas Labarthe, from Alcatel-Lucent, shared a number of statistics: while 82% of consumers do not mind such intrusions so long as permission is sought beforehand, 56% are more likely to purchase from a brand that has asked and knows about their preference – in other words, basic manners. And while much of this may appear to be common sense, the message is still struggling to be defined and implemented.

Andrew Grill of Visible Technologies provided a simple but effective example with the Telegraph newspaper’s iPad application. The registration process allowed him to select his date of birth as being the year 1900 as well as registering his country as Antartica. Still, despite these anomalies, the adverts he receives on his iPad when reading the paper include Audi cars. I wasn’t aware that Audi’s marketing strategy included those aged 111 in that part of the world. This irrelevant advertising solution is a lost opportunity for the Telegraph, for Audi, but above all, the end user who in choosing the solution accepts the reality of advertising but has irrelevant material promoted to him.

But times are changing, and fast. Tiffany Gerhardt from BestBuy showed how the store continues its customer focus by providing 2500 staff servicing twitter accounts. Tim Stott from HBS observed how the FIFA world cup was for the first time live streaming matches specifically designed for the mobile phone platform. And when VW decided to launch their new GTI in the United States, not only was there no paid marketing, but the success of the mobile application they used was such that it had 4.3 million downloads, had number one status in 36 countries and resulted in the direct sale of 175 cars.

Yet, despite these amazing milestones, the future will offer a much wider and relevant landscape. It has to. Why? Changing attitudes.

Jay Alyschuler of Unilever introduced me to a condition which I hadn’t heard of previously, nomophobia: the fear of being without mobile phone contact. With 53% of Brits being anxious when away from their phone, the expectation and experiences consumers want from their device is changing. Leading brands are already demonstrating their commitment to embracing new technologies – albeit often at a much slower pace than the rate at which the consumer evolves.

Thus, in my understanding, opportunities will abound where existing brands fail to respond attentively with suitable technologies and offerings. More importantly, the message of relevance must be understood. Mobile marketing may only just have begun but rest assured it’s impact will be felt by all of us in the years to come.

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