Burning to be the brand in their hand

Everyone owns a mobile, and the devices are getting smarter. From SMS to apps, there is an array of options for marketers, as long as they remember to keep it relevant. By Nicola Smith

In 2000, Railtrack became one of the first UK companies to send branded texts to consumers. Mobile marketing has kept advancing, albeit slowly, ever since. “Mobile has evolved a long way from the simple ’text and win’,” says Tim Dunn, head of marketing services at the Mobile Interactive Group (MIG). “There is now a vibrant and complex mobile landscape and the options for deploying your brand and message are vast.”

Mobile to date has been a minefield. A wealth of network operators and device manufacturers, plus the recent advent of smartphones such as Apple’s iPhone and those running Google’s Android operating system, have led to a fragmented and fast-moving environment that has presented a number of challenges for brands looking to exploit mobile as a marketing channel.

But as mobile finally starts to emerge as a viable – and vital – part of the marketing mix, Douglas McDonald, head of mobile at digital agency Tullo Marshall Warren (TMW), suggests that it is becoming easier for brands to enter. “It is only complex when it comes to making sure that sites and apps work properly across different devices. There are, however, lots of solutions that will do the heavy lifting in that area, from device detection services to testing across different classes of handsets. Otherwise it is a fairly simple medium within which marketers’ current skill sets are eminently relevant.”

The launch in February 2010 of Mobile Media Metrics has strengthened the case for mobile. To date, mobile advertising has been hampered by a lack of reliable, industry-wide information about how consumers are using mobile internet. Mobile Media Metrics, spearheaded by mobile operator body GSMA in partnership with O2, Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and 3UK, gives marketers an aggregated view of mobile internet usage behaviour, including page views, time spent on specific sites, and device types. Headline figures from three operators to date include the fact that 16 million people in the UK accessed the internet from their mobile phones in December 2009 alone.

When considering mobile, marketers should bear in mind that the platform is primarily about customer acquisition, retention and brand building, says Paul Berney, managing director, Europe branch for Mobile Marketing Association (MMA). “Mobile is not TV or direct mail, and campaigns shouldn’t be treated with the same mentality. Communications should be contextual: based on time, location, need and the individual, as well as demographics such as age and gender.” He adds that consumers are far more likely to participate in mobile campaigns if marketers get their permission, understand their preferences and respect their privacy.

Not as sexy, just as attractive

Simple SMS campaigns are many brands’ first foray into mobile marketing, and this method – although not perhaps as sexy as an app – continues to be a very effective marketing tool. Nigel Vaz, managing director of interactive marketing agency SapientNitro, says, “SMS is a far more accessible channel and is being exploited by brands such as Singapore Airlines, which lets its customers know about flight disruptions and offers via SMS. Ultimately it’s about looking at your customer base and deciding what are the most applicable and useful services for them to access on the move.” Dunn agrees, stating that which mobile marketing discipline will work best for a brand depends on the brand’s objectives. “If acquiring new customers is your goal, you may want to use SMS shortcodes featured on ads and a raft of targeted mobile advertising.” For retention, he says companies may want to use an application that enables users to get more from the brand.

James Pimentel-Pinto, co-founder and chief executive of agencymobile, agrees that brands need to identify clear objectives, and advises them to set clear, measurable performance indicators, such as number of customers acquired and revenue from the application.”This is often the missing link in working out the profitability of investing in a proper mobile channel strategy.”

Everyone loves a Bluetooth movie

A strategy that is working for cinema advertising company Pearl & Dean is the Bluetooth network it has introduced in 67 Vue cinemas, allowing consumers to receive film trailers and music to their phones in cinema foyers. Warner Brothers advertises its latest releases in this way. “We have experimented with various different forms of mobile marketing, but by far the most effective has been Bluetooth,” remarks Pearl & Dean enterprise director Mike Hope-Milne, who says the channel is a good fit with its audience. “When done right, it delivers a trusted, quality experience that creates a gateway to further mobile engagement via applications, text alerts, calendar reminders and hyperlinks to WAP sites.”

And it seems the time is right for brands to invest in mobile (or WAP) sites. “Less than 5% of brands make the most of mobile internet traffic,” says Ogilvy Group UK head of mobile technologies Scott Seaborn. “You could not advertise on the internet without a website and the same goes for mobile. Brands should at least optimise their current site for mobile so that mobile visitors don’t drop off while waiting for a full site to load on their phone.” McDonald agrees, stating that an average of 30% of the population is now online via mobile. “It’s no longer possible to say you have an online presence if it doesn’t include a mobile version.”

Rimmel is one company reaping the rewards of a well thought-out mobile site. Created by MIG and OMD, the cosmetics brand’s permanent mobile site has 40,000 opted-in users to date, while there have been over 145,000 content downloads, such as wallpaper and video clips – from a budget of less than £50,000.

Indeed, mobile websites are more important than the latest buzzword: apps, the mini software programmes that users download to their mobile device. While there are 200,000 apps currently available on Apple’s App Store – and 34.3 million iPhones have been sold worldwide, according to Apple – smartphone users as a whole only represent 29% of the total mobile internet audience in the UK according to the GSMA.

“We expect to see a shift back to mobile web-based services as mobile browser capabilities improve,” says Dan Rosen, head of AKQA Mobile. “Soon it will be possible to deliver an app-like experience through the mobile web, removing many of the cross-platform considerations.”

But he also admits that apps are here to stay, although they don’t suit every marketer’s need. “Apps tend to work well when they offer something useful and serve a true need – people play games on the commute to work, access maps when they need directions and so on.” Vaz singles out Tesco’s app as a great “value-add” for customers because it allows shoppers to discover on which row and shelf certain items can be found in any given store. “It complements their in-store experience by fulfilling a genuine need.”

Paul Say, head of marketing at First Direct – which plans to launch an app in the next few months – agrees. “First and foremost apps should make life easier for customers and not be purely about marketing. We see apps as another delivery channel for our online banking as well as an opportunity to strengthen our brand.”

As Dunn points out, brands can tap into the popularity of apps without necessarily having to build their own, thanks to sponsorship opportunities. “For example, the current Britain’s Got Talent app is sending large numbers of users through to Domino’s pizza payment pages.”

Mobile is undoubtedly coming into its own. Apple launched its iAd platform, which will supply ads relevant to users’ locations, in April, and launched its 4G iPhone in the UK earlier this month; while Microsoft recently unveiled Windows 7 for mobiles. As Rosen concludes: “Mobile internet access will continue to grow and more people will engage with products and services on their phones. Browsing behaviour is different on mobile than traditional web, and marketers should look for ways they can bring their brand into this arena on the back of emerging behaviour.”


All you need to know about mobile

  • What does mobile marketing entail? Mobile marketing can range from sending marketing messages via simple SMS text messages, or via wireless Bluetooth technology in specific locations, to creating branded mobile websites and developing branded apps for consumers to download on smartphones. In short, mobile marketing involves communicating with the consumer via a mobile device in myriad ways.
  • What is an app? An app, or mobile application, is a software programme that can be downloaded for a mobile device. The majority of apps to date have been developed for Apple’s iPhone (there are over 200,000). Apps can range in complexity from simple – such as Carling’s gimmicky iPint, a virtual pint that drains as you tip your iPhone – to the more practical. The Guardian iPhone app, allows readers to quickly access specific articles and writers, as well as the newspaper’s podcasts.


Oscar Jenkins – CEO, Dynmark

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.


10 Suppliers You Need To Know

  1. Mobile Interactive Group
    MIG is an integrated mobile agency, comprising mobile marketing, messaging and payment, app development and digital delivery. Clients include ITV, PepsiCo and Shazam. www.migcan.com
  2. Sponge
    A pure-play creative mobile marketing agency, Sponge plans and executes entire campaigns, and counts Coca-Cola and AutoTrader among its clients. www.spongegroup.com
  3. Bluepod Media
    Bluepod enables advertisers to send marketing messages to “opted in” consumers, and to target customers at specific destinations via its network of Bluetooth-enabled servers. Clients include Xbox and Nokia. www.bluepodmedia.com
  4. Inside Mobile
    Bought by M&C Saatchi in March 2010, Inside Mobile designs and builds mobile solutions as well as planning and buying mobile media. Clients include Adidas, Reebok and Sky.
  5. Que Pasa
    Digital agency Que Pasa creates branded content for consumer brands. It recently developed a mobile portal for Channel 4 and a mobile campaign for Tate Liverpool. www.que-pasa.co.uk
  6. YOC
    YOC is a full service mobile marketing agency, covering everything from marketing, advertising and technology to mobile content and affiliate marketing. Clients include The Guardian and The Sun. en.group.yoc.com
  7. Hypertag
    Specialist in proximity marketing – the wireless distribution of advertising content within a certain location – Hypertag’s clients include Coca-Cola, Peugeot and O2.
  8. Incentivated
    Incentivated specialises in SMS alerts for customer relationship management campaigns, location-based mobile apps, mobile internet sites and strategic consultancy, with clients including Marks & Spencer, Strongbow and Jaguar. www.incentivated.com
  9. Marvellous
    Bought by Aegis Media in 2007, Marvellous offers everything from strategy and planning to design and build. Clients include Renault, Adidas and Vodafone. www.bemarvellous.com
  10. mBlox
    An intermediary between businesses and mobile operators, mBlox manages the delivery and billing of mobile content and mobile services globally. Clients include the BBC, Fox and Ryanair. www.mblox.com

Source/ newmediaage Marketing Services Guide 2010


  • Mobile ownership in the UK (users aged 15+) in the first quarter of 2010 is 48.9 million (source: Nielsen).
  • Smartphones are forecast to make up 70% of the European market by 2012 (source: Gartner).
  • Over 1 billion page impressions on social networking sites are made via mobile each month (source: Orange).
  • An average of 63 million SMS messages are sent every day in the UK (source: Orange).
  • In 2008, brands spent £28.6m on mobile campaigns in the UK (source: Internet Advertising Bureau).
  • App downloads are expected to climb from 7 billion in 2009 to 50 billion by 2012: a 92% annual increase (source: Getjar).


What does the next year hold?

Paul Berney
Managing director, Europe branch, Mobile Marketing Association (MMA)
“We can certainly expect to see mobile being used to great effect for customer acquisition, retention and brand building, as well as to extend and enhance other mass media channels to great effect.

“We see the continuing growth of mobile CRM as a major driver in obtaining consumer adoption of the channel; creating the opportunity for brands to engage with their audience on a deeper level.

“Other key areas of revenue growth will be mobile search and the significant increase in mobile internet traffic and application usage, which is in large part associated with the use of social media on the mobile device. We’re expecting mobile ad spend to grow to $2.16bn (£1.5bn) in 2010.”

Steve Hanna
Director, Cymba
“The Noughties was the decade of fixed marketing – web(site) and email. Now there’s a new tipping point – as smartphones gain majority acceptance, mobile will be marketing – and marketing will become mobile.

“Direct response, loyalty, location, commerce and search will define themselves with mobile marketing. Uptake, ROI and metrics will define a decade of mobile progression for any brand serious about consumer marketing and advertising.”

Andrew Fisher
Chief executive, Shazam
“The personal engagement mobile offers, as well as the sheer number of mobile users globally, means the opportunity to reach and interact with consumers on the go is enormous. I expect brands to allocate increasing portions of their marketing spend to mobile throughout 2010.

“As advertising moves towards highly targeted, opt-in systems, mobile applications are ideally placed for marketers. Using information on an opt-in basis from users’ profiles, preferences and location also enables consumers to be addressed with highly tailored and relevant communication and offers.”

James Pimentel-Pinto
Co-founder and chief executive, agencymobile
“In addition to Apple continuing to lead the way in the applications market, we’re already starting to see the other major manufacturers delivering interesting and innovative combinations of hardware and software as differentiators for both consumers and brands.

“We think mobile interactions will increasingly become the consumer’s first interaction point and brands’ budget allocation and agency selection should take this into account when planning marketing activity.

“But there are also many questions that cannot be answered yet, and mobile should be embraced as an evolving medium – one that requires innovation and risk to fully exploit.”

Scott Seaborn
Head of mobile technologies, Ogilvy Group UK
“Mobile internet usage is going to rise dramatically. As visitors arrive at websites via mobile they will have different needs. They will want their desired information immediately and the site structure needs to deliver this.

“Mobile purchase is also increasing, with $500m (£350m) spent on eBay mobile last year. The vast majority of smartphone users are willing to buy products on their mobile with 14% happy to spend over $100 (£70) on a single mobile purchase. M-commerce is on the rise. So if people are looking for product information on the move, brands and their agencies must make it easy for them to buy on the move as well.”

Shaun Gregory
Managing director, O2 Media
“We can expect to see richer formats, with a greater use of ’Click to call’, ’Click through to application’ and ’Click to web/WAP’ in SMS and MMS. There will also be more location-based services, which will involve pushing messages to opted-in customers who enter specified locations to deliver timely, location-based offers. Consumers will get used to advertising and brands on their mobile device. It will become much more part of the overall experience. I also feel that there will be a lot more ’pull’ than ’push’ in relation to how apps are used – and I am certain that opt-in will be king.”


Top tips you need to know

  • Be useful. Mobiles are tools. They are used for information, socialising and fun. Catering for any of these is useful for users.
  • Think local. Mobile can deliver local relevance like no other channel. Consider how your brand can use location-based offers and services or interaction in specific locations to drive engagement.
  • Use mobile as a multi-faceted response channel. The possibilities include ads on the mobile web, shortcodes, direct interaction with big screens or Bluetooth.
  • Think community. Mobile is an access point for social networks as well as being the perfect tool for generating content.
  • Understand how it’s consumed. Mobile usage is different to the internet/ people hunt, they don’t browse. Cater for bite-sized engagemen… and there’s more to mobile than apps!
    (source: Ben Mitchell, planning partner at digital agency Ruby)


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