Two of the big trends we’re starting to see in mobile are the rise of forms of mobile marketing that take advantage of the unique properties of mobile, and brands starting to realise that this is where their customers are.

Mobile is a very disruptive technology, and there’s a sense that marketers and agencies were reluctant to change things until is was really necessary to do so. But Apple was a shot in the arm for the mobile industry and it forced everyone to raise their game. You can see it everywhere, from the hardware manufacturers to the operators. There has been a lot of mobile marketing done that hasn’t really worked, a lot of the time because it was too soon, but now the whole ecosystem is much more conducive to mobile being commercialised.
The result is that we’re seeing mobile marketing budgets going up from thousands of pounds to tens of thousands of pounds, and at the same time there’s involvement in campaigns from much more senior people.

A great example of that is some work we did with Home Delivery Network that started in 2008 and ran through the whole of last year. We worked with a senior team and the success of that project paved the way for the company to start doing text-based CRM on behalf of its big clients. And the big change for it was moving into a world of two-way interaction. It sends out delivery details by SMS, then the customer can send an SMS back to make changes if the arrangements don’t suit them. Is that CRM or is it marketing? It’s certainly an example of something tailored to the properties of mobile.

One of the trends we’re seeing within our own business is that people are starting to use SMS as a conduit into other mobile media sessions. So they’re sending out an SMS with a link in it to a mobile site, for example. We’re also starting to see MMS playing a more significant role, but still at a much lower level than SMS.

Mobile is often talked about as the “glue” that holds together all the elements of a marketing campaign. We certainly see it as the glue for customer relationships, but it remains to be seen if it will move out to perform that role in the broader marketing world. What is certain is that if you get the central relationship with the customer right, it’s very powerful indeed.