Friday, February 26, 2010

Mobile Marketing Tech for the Little Guys and Gals

I wrote last week that in 2010 we no longer have to worry about selling agencies on the value of mobile interactivity. What I didn’t think about, though, was that smaller agencies still need to work hard to convince their clients that mobile marketing is a good place to spend ad dollars. Especially if and when their clients are smaller customers who are immersed in their own retail shop and have neither the time nor the inclination to follow emerging media trends.

So, for the agencies working hard to sell to small and medium sized businesses, here are some facts to sprinkle into the next sales pitch:

  • While overall Ad spending was down 15% in 2009, mobile marketing spending grew 62% to 2.6 billion USD (AdAge, JPMorgan 2009)
  • Of that 2.6b USD spent on mobile marketing, 2.3b was spent on text messaging (JPMorgan)
  • From June 2005 to June 2009, monthly SMS’s sent jumped from 7.5b to 135billion. Annualized, that’s 1.36 trillion messages per year. (CTIA 2009)
  • On average, Americans send and receive twice as many text messages as phone calls per month (Nielson Mobile)
  • American teens (ages 13 – 17) sent and received an average of 1742 text messages per month in Q2 2008. (Nielson Mobile)
  • Text message usage among people in their 40s jumped from 56% to 64% (Vlingo 2009)
  • The number of mobile data users who recalled seeing advertising jumped 38%, from 42 million to 58 million, between Q2 and Q4 2007 (Nielson Mobile).
  • 51% of mobile data subscribers who saw an ad responded to it by sending a text-message, clicking on it, or calling a specific number. (Nielson Mobile).
What kinds of mobile marketing works for small retailers? Mobile coupons, mobile quizzes, text alert opt-ins, mobile polling. Give us a call or an e-mail to discuss how we can help your clients mobilize their marketing.

Friday, February 19, 2010

On Marketing Through Digital Signs

We’ve been in the mobile marketing game here at Unwired Appeal since 2003. Way back then, mobile marketing usually meant text alerts, or if we had a really daring client, a text trivia game. The challenges were 1) interoperability between carriers, and 2) educating agencies regarding what text messaging was and how it could help engage an audience.

Today the carriers have figured out how to play nice with each other (usually), and we no longer have to educate agencies regarding the value of mobile marketing. Marketeers and agencies know that mobile was one of the only areas of marketing growth in 2009. As such we do plenty of business with text trivia, text polls, text-to-win, etc. But another medium seems to be getting more and more attention from our customers: mobile interaction with digital screens. I wrote a bit about one of our first digital screen integrations in last week’s post about the BBC screen. So text-to-screen, or Digital Out of Home (DOOH) integration seems to be a growth market, and one in which we are devoting more and more time and resources. Beyond the obvious revenue implications, however, the integration of mobile marketing with large, outdoor, digital screens is interesting to me for a couple of reasons.

Up until a couple of years ago, I thought the main reason mobile marketing was effective was it allowed marketers to target customers individually. Whether your customer read “Maxim” or “Better Homes and Gardens”, if you were good you knew where your target demographic was and when they wanted/needed to be contacted. The whole “reach your customers where and when they want to be reached, rather than shouting indiscriminately from the rooftop” approach works. We’ve seen it tracked and we see how the coupon redemption rates are better for mobile coupons than they are for print coupons. And yet, ironically, or maybe precisely *because* it was so easy to personalize messages for individual demographics, there was something impersonal about the mobile marketing medium. When you get *too* good at targetting, you message never crosses the chasm between cliques or demographics. A Better Homes and Garden add, for example, might be seen by a 20 something male in a doctor’s office, or by an onlooker on a crowded train. But rarely, if ever, does someone other than me or maybe my closest friend see a text message that is sent to my mobile phone. If we think about marketing to consumers as unique sets of individual customers, we also somehow lose the sense of the melting pot as marketing becomes more and more individualized. Is there common ground between the Maxim readers and the “Better Homes and Gardens” readers? Marketers don'tt care – or don’t need to care, because they could tailor their messages to appeal to both groups, separately. As this type of marketing becomes more and more effective, perhaps society loses common ground. At the risk of stretching my analogy a bit to far, maybe the effectiveness of Obama’s campaign (AdAge's "Marketer of the Year") actually contributed to the rise of the Tea Party movement. Obama’s campaign became so effective at targeting their “fans” that they never had to or never tried to appeal to the far right. The right thus was in a vacuum and was further radicalized. In a commercial, ROI sense, synergies between potential customers and fans are lost.

Into this fragmented market, enter mobile integration with the digital screen. When campaigns like the Intel “You on Tomorrow” (Unwired Appeal provided the SMS service)
appear in Times Square, they suddenly engage customers across demographic boundaries. In the "You on Tomorrow" campaign, we asked pedestrians viewing screens to text the answer to the question: "What do you want the future to bring". The only common demographic in Intel’s case was that the person interacting with the screen happened to be in Times Square or Berlin. If a 20 something Gen Y'er saw a suit looking up at a screen with a phone is his hand, he/she might be tempted to look up as well. Suddenly people in different target groups are interacting with the same sign. For the Intel campaign we received text messages from the USA and Germany. When we integrated with the Intel's microsites on the web, we received web messages from dozens of different countries, moderated them, and displayed them within minutes. The digital screen, in this case, acted as a unifier.

In a world of individualized messages for individual audiences, creating something that brought a cross section of communications of people together felt good.

In the end, our clients, and our client’s customers, seem happier for it as well.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Engaging Customers With the Help of Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck stirs controversy, and controversy engages an audience, so we weren’t complaining when Glenn Beck complained to his national radio audience about one of the digital signs we enabled in Times Square way back in 2007.

We’d been approached by an agency to help with the interactive portion of a series of billboard ads announcing BBC’s arrival in America. The pictures in the ads were striking – clear, sharp depictions of controversial world events. The interactive part was simple, but effective. Unwired Appeal enabled mobile voting so that people viewing the signs could weigh in on what they thought of the picture. For instance, a picture of Chinese soldiers flying the Chinese national flag asked viewers to vote whether the soldiers were “Friend or Foe” A simplification, to be sure, but sometimes an issue has to be boiled down to a single word or image in order to hook an audience.

The participations rates were fantastic. Each picture prompted thousands of votes, and the fact that pedestrians were stopped on the street, cellphones out, prompted even more people to look up at what was happening. Between the number of people in Times Square every day, the number of votes we gathered, the overflow of number of people looking at the people voting, we estimated that over a million impressions were made. Our agency customer was happy, and the BBC seemed to be happy as well.

But when Glenn Beck decided to weigh in on his then nationally syndicated radio show (this was before he joined Fox), the voting shot through the ceiling.

"I walk by this thing everyday and its driving me nuts", commented Beck during his show. He was referring to the first in the series that showed immigrants being stopped at the border. The question was simply “CITIZENS” or “CRIMINALS” and Glenn was upset that the “left” side of the billboard was beating the “right” side.

In a hilarious broadcast, Beck sent his executive producer Stu to report "live" from in front of the sign while he instructed his listeners how to vote from their cell phones (you can listen to the broadcast at Glenn Beck's broadcast). Suddenly, thousands of votes were pouring in.

BBC and our agency called in a panic – we didn’t yet know that Beck was talking about the sign, and the assumption was that someone had created an automated voting program that was "stuffing the ballot box". We quickly monitored the most recent log of calls and saw that they were coming in from all over the country. It seemed that the populace had suddenly become interested in the BBC’s marketing campaign.

The BBC sign wasn’t the first time we did an interactive Text-to-Screen application for a client in Times Square, but to date it is one of the most successful. The lessons, for us, were two fold:
  1. Your campaign doesn’t have to be complicated from a technical point of view in order to be engaging
  2. Getting noticed by a nationally syndicated radio host helps.