For the past few years I have seen numerous publications declare,“This is the year of the mobile.”So when did it happen?What constitutes the year of mobile?And what is the state of the mobile nation?
I got my first mobile phone 15 years ago, so for me the year of the mobile was June 1994. …and mobile marketing was a conversation with a few techies on how to send brand text messages to peoples phones.
There are over 50 million active SIM cards in South Africa and according to Ernst & Young the current mobile phone penetration in South Africa is nearly 90%.
South Africa ranks number 6 in the world for mobile web usage, ahead of the USA.This figure reflects the lack of fixed line infrastructure and the South Africans desire to be connected.
A study by Opera (not Oprha the chat show host) showed that between January and September 2008 mobile web usage in South Africa grew by 92.8% with the most used sites being Facebook, Google and Wikipedia. Which is not surprising when you realise that only 10% of the population have fixed line internet access at home.
Functionality has dramatically developed from simple voice and SMS to cameras with 12.1 Mega Pixels, video, Bluetooth, WiFi, built in web browsers, music players, GPS tagging and a whole host of other utilities.
Mobile marketing is a hard sell and yet for over 70% of the population it’s one of the few media channels that marketers can reach and personally engage consumers.The reality is that many agencies, with a few notable exceptions, still don’t get it, and because of this mindset, many brands on recommendation, are reluctant to allocate significant budget spend to the mobile channel.What is it that agencies don’t get?The fundamental answer to this question is; perception.
And yet, mobile marketing still has to fight for a realistic share of traditional media spend.Why is this the case?What are the challenges we face?
It’s a severe case of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’.It’s easier for agencies to pitch Print and TV Ads than to explain the far reaching attributes of mobile marketing.
The Perception is; think of the TV reach, it’s in the millions and yes, the cost is in the millions but when you amortize this over the audience it’s nothing.When we talk about mobile the reach is reduced because it’s targeted so immediately the assumption is that TV must be right because anything with that kind of reach and cost can’t be wrong.Is this Birdshot or Bullshit you be the judge.
David Ogilvy was right; Advertising must sell …or else.But as we are all aware the consumer has become far less open to traditional advertising messages and far less trusting of brands.
The challenge is to help more marketers understand the “Relevancy” of the mobile channel within the marketing mix.Today’s audience find most traditional media boring at best irrelevant at worst and they are fighting back by creating their own social media.Relevancy is when companies target and persuade a group of people to be passionate about their products or services to the degree that it influences the purchasing behaviour of others by making it easy to communicate their message from one to one, one to few, and one to many.
Nearly three quarters of all digital messages are from mobile phones. The traditional Advertising industry as we knew it is in decline, and it’s going through an identity crisis.
Mobile is not a bolt-on media channel …it should be a significant part of an integrated strategy.This is a communication channel that gets attention and solicits expression.…and yet the mobile marketing share of budgets is still less than 12% of spend.
The Chinese word for Crisis is made up of two words; Danger and Opportunity, and they have a great saying “If a storm is gathering some build walls, others build windmills.”
In this case there must have been a hell of a storm and a lot of pessimists when they built the great wall.So where are the opportunities?
This is opportunity.This is a mash-up.It’s what mobile marketing is really good at. It takes consumer engagement and participation to new levels that previously would not have been possible.Most people are not passive, they want to be involved.
In many situations the mobile consumer is driving the opportunities, especially the youth.They actively ignore brands that don’t play in their space and by their rules.Hugh MacLoud puts it this way:“If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face.”
Traditional media channels such as Print, Billboards and TV are generally passive interruptions.Mobile and online media is interactive, often location based or in proximity …and yes it can be intrusive but done correctly it becomes inclusive participation.
The PUSH strategy doesn’t work the way it used to. “Pray Until Something Happens” is not a strategy that your brand clients want to hear.As marketers we need to give clients measurability that helps them to plan strategies that work effectively in line with their objectives.
But let’s focus on the uniqueness of mobile marketing.What makes it a channel that brand marketers should be using more?Mobile can achieve mass reach but to be relevant and effective, mobile communication should be precise and focused.After all, mobile communication is personal, it’s about you. This is my space.Don’t try to inflict old Ad strategies on new technology platforms; it’s wrong and generally doesn’t work. Creative needs to be designed for the mobile medium.But as they say: “no man is an island” and this is true of media channels too so as mobile marketers we need to be collaborative and contribute to the effectiveness of the brand strategy.The consumers’ brand experience is a culmination of relevant medias that are used to achieve ROO (Return On Objective) as well as ROI.
Proximity or location based is where the brand meets the relevant consumer within the brand space.This could be in-store, at an event venue, in a club or bar, on the beach or at the game.The point is that the audience will be receptive if you’re adding to their experience.
Perception is the consumers view of the value from the mobile interaction.The perception of brand relevance is increasingly determined by the moment; recency matters, as audience attention spans are short and fame spikes.The adaptive agility of mobile allows brands to be current and therefore remain relevant by offering utility and reward in proximity. “What’s in it for me?” is never going out of fashion.But the big opportunity is in measurement and data, this is the new currency of the mobile era.
Unlike traditional media, Mobile marketing = Adaptive marketing.This is an important opportunity for brand marketers.Mobile communication is more agile, co-creative and personally focused than traditional media.It targets and creates conversation drivers, participants and engagers. All of which results in building inclusion, trust and sales.As Kevin Kelly, co-founder of Wired, puts it; “Wherever there is attention, money will follow.”
Consumers are connected like never before and mobile is word of mouth on steroids.As a media channel, mobile is unlike any other.Mobile communication is about conversations, social networking (in text, voice, pictures, video and music), it’s fun and that’s what brand consumers are doing with each other.It’s also a powerful brand health check.
Because the wrong type of attention can also loose money.
Let’s face it; people subscribe to people not brands; just look at Twitter and Facebook. The simple fact is that if we converse more we sell more which is a weird place for a brand because talking requires energy to create relevant conversation, they must listen to learn and become more open, personal and collaborative.Some key brands get this mindset like Nokia, who recently stated that, openness is a basic requirement in today’s consumer market.Most of what we believe to be true is not as a direct result of personal experience.We are willing to believe things because people we trust or our friends believe it as well.The mobile consumer is more likely to trust a friend’s recommendation than believe a brand message unless the brand becomes a friend.
Mobile marketing requires a dynamic shift in mindset and strategic thinking and a radically different approach to the consumer. We live in a data economy, a new content creating economy; this is the next generation of advertising.Brands need to relinquish the hierarchy of command and control in favour of collaboration and cultivation.It’s an attention based income economy where the ability to personally reach the consumer in location is powerful.Mobile brand communication can offer “Freemium” content that has tangible value to the user and solicits opt-in data.Free gets you noticed but trust gets the money.
The effectiveness of mobile communication will be determined by our ability as marketers to respect and deliver on the 4 Ps’ of mobile.Not Product, Placement, Price and Promotion, but Permission, Proximity, Perception and Participation.
We should never forget the fact that the mobile phone is primarily a personal device to increase communication and sociability; everything else is secondary to its owner.Mobile marketing has the means and potential to change brand marketing as we know it for the better, but this requires a radical shift in the mindset of those who hold the purse strings.Brands want love and money – consumers have much the same desire so if we all agree then we should be looking for ways to make media work for both brands and their audience.We need to aim for experiences not Ads.We should think more about sharing than search.As humans we are action orientated and display still has it’s place but discovery is the driver.
I leave you with the words of General Eric Ken Shinseki US Army Retired.“If you don’t like change; your going to like irrelevance even less.”
“The Year of the Mobile” 1994 A Year of dangerous substances, ‘Push-up’ Bras and Oasis debut album