Is mobile spam on the increase?

According to a recent article in The Observer Cash section, unsolicited mobile marketing (spam) is on the increase.

As there is little data collected in this area, it is difficult to know if this really is the case. We have decided to run a survey to see if people perceive an increase in mobile spam and what they feel about mobile marketing in general.

Please click this link to take our mobile spam survey. Answers are anonymous, and we will publish the results or email them to you (should you wish to provide an email address).

UK mobile advertising shows massive rise

the IAB (internet advertising bureau) has just released figures on it’s study in UK on mobile advertising. The results show an increase of spend nearly 100% between this year and the previous one.

As much as anything else, users with flat rate data plans has increased by over 100%, thus increasing the number of people who use the mobile internet.

Mobile search advertising was estimated to be worth £14.4 million and mobile display worth £14.2 million.

Exciting news? Well, yes and no. It’s exciting to see such an increase in spend, but just under £29 million per year spent on mobile advertising is tiny compared to almost any other media, including online search. Unlike the report, which claims that mobile advertising has come of age, there will need to be a few more years of significant increase before it can claim to be on a par with other advertising media.

Bluetooth Marketing, the next big thing in mobile marketing?

The previous post is an article that I wrote about Bluetooth marketing. It seems that many people in marketing are potentially excited about it. The opportunities from a fast, non-network-based marketing medium seem huge. So why hasn’t it really taken off yet?


In speaking to one major marketing magazine, they believed that advertisers were put off by the confusion over the regulations, that put Bluetooth outside the PEC regs. I’m not convinced. The barrier is more likely to be technology or even confidence that there are enough Bluetooth devices.

Bluetooth marketing: opt in vs broadcast

Most mobiles come with Bluetooth as standard but there is still some confusion over how it can be used for marketing – Mark Brill from txt4ever and the DMA’s Mobile Council explains how to implement innovative proximity campaigns, without falling foul of the law.

What was once an exclusive feature of top-of-the-range mobile phones, Bluetooth has now become an integral feature of all new handsets. Its extraordinary capabilities also offer great potential for innovative proximity marketing campaigns. However, while the technology is there, Bluetooth as a marketing channel has suffered from widespread confusion about exactly how it can be used and the rules and regulations that govern it.

The basics

Using an advanced form of radio technology, Bluetooth is a versatile broadcast medium that can transmit data or files, such as video, pictures and applications from devices over short distances without the need or cost of network connection.

There are many advantages to using it for proximity marketing: it is available on most mobile phones, it can transfer large amounts of data quickly, it does not require access to a mobile phone network and it does not cost anything for the user to receive the content. The improvements in broadcasting technology and software also mean that setting up and running a Bluetooth campaign can be done quickly and easily. “The key to a successful Bluetooth proximity marketing campaign is to provide a clear incentive or offer, explain why you are communicating and gain the trust of the user.” The practical issues of executing a Bluetooth campaign are relatively straightforward: Once a suitable location is identified, a Bluetooth broadcast unit must be placed in situ. Broadcast ranges vary, but a single unit can typically transmit to a distance of 40 metres. These units are essentially small boxes containing a PC. They can be controlled via a Windows interface or remotely via an internet connection. Management software allows the marketer to control which files are sent to users, the distance that it will operate, how many times it will retry each user and opting out users who reject files. When a Bluetooth-enabled phone enters into range of the unit, the handset will be prompted to accept the content or ‘pair’ with this device.

Managing a campaign

The key to a successful Bluetooth proximity marketing campaign is to provide a clear incentive or offer, explain why you are communicating and gain the trust of the user. Approximately 30% of people have their Bluetooth turned on all of the time, and most only do so because they are using a hands-free headset. Therefore, without displays clearly announcing a call to action, the average mobile user will either fail to turn on their Bluetooth or simply reject the content when an unrecognised request appears on their phone. Depending on the objective, marketers have generally deployed Bluetooth marketing campaigns using public networks in places such as train stations and shopping centres, or through private networks which are typically used for specific campaigns in stores or at events. A prime example of a public network can be found in Victoria Station in south-west London, where a large blue circle on the ground in front of the information boards marks out a dedicated ‘Bluetooth zone’. This zone has been used for a number of campaigns, the most notable of which was for the launch of season four of Sky One’s flagship TV show ‘Lost’. Commuters standing within the zone could download applications for free, such as Lost-themed wallpaper and ringtones, and content such as programme images and the series’ trailer. Private networks, however, offer greater targeting potential over public networks. Bacardi Rum, for example, used a private network at a series of music festivals around the world to reach out to its core target market of 18-34 year-olds. At well-branded designated locations, Bacardi used Bluetooth to send drinks vouchers and encouraged users to interact with the brand by inviting them to send their own photos and messages via the network, which were then displayed on a large screen. Levi’s Jeans has also run similar campaigns in European cities. But, rather than using fixed units, representatives of the brand carried backpacks with Bluetooth units and small screens. In spite of its immense potential for engaging with consumers, however, marketers do need to take into consideration some important factors when planning Bluetooth campaigns. For instance, places such as London Underground do not readily lend themselves to hosting Bluetooth zones because of its infrastructure and the fact that few people dwell long enough to receive any content. Tracking a user once they have left a Bluetooth zone can also be problematic. A Bluetooth connection to a mobile does not provide the marketer with a phone number or user information, so tracking a user requires some form of registration.

Rules and regulations

As a nascent and underdeveloped marketing channel, there has been significant confusion within the industry as to the issue of securing consent from consumers to reach them through Bluetooth. Until recently, it was widely assumed that Bluetooth was covered by the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations 2003. However, in 2007 the Information Commissioner ruled that Bluetooth is not part of the mobile network and as such is exempt from the 2003 Regulations. “There is little to prevent unscrupulous marketers from engaging in scattershot campaigns, bombarding every consumer in the vicinity who happens to have Bluetooth enabled on their phone.” The rules that require opt-in for email and SMS campaigns do not apply to Bluetooth. This means that there is little to prevent unscrupulous marketers from engaging in scattershot campaigns, bombarding every consumer in the vicinity who happens to have Bluetooth enabled on their phone. The ASA’s CAP Code is also vague on this matter as Bluetooth is not covered by the code’s data section. Furthermore, if the advertiser is not using a private network or paid advertising space, Bluetooth may not even be covered by other areas of the CAP Code. To fill in this grey area, the DMA’s Mobile Marketing Council has produced the first set of best practice guidelines for Bluetooth proximity marketing. The guidelines stress the need to gain clear consent from mobile users and provide the opportunity to opt-out, as well as setting out the terms for broadcast range and the management of contact retries. These guidelines currently stand in lieu of government regulations. While they hold no legal power, the Direct Marketing Commission – the independent body responsible for monitoring compliance with the DMA Code of Practice – could impose sanctions on member companies found to be in breach of the guidelines. Mobile phones are devices that the majority of people carry with them most of the time. As such, it is a highly personal and even private medium. Marketing to mobiles needs to be done with care and consideration to the user. While well-run campaigns can offer excellent response rates, poorly run campaigns can seriously damage a brand and the credibility of mobile as a marketing medium.

Top 10 Ways to Utilise Mobile Marketing

Mobile offers a variety of channels for marketing – SMS, MMS, Mobile Internet, Bluetooth and Apps. Without doubt, SMS remains king, but marketers are looking at a whole range of methods for marketing to their audience. The following is a brief guide to the 10 best ways to engage through mobile marketing:

1. Customer relationship marketing

When companies first approach mobile marketing they typically think of customer acquisition as the main aim. However, the best place to start is often with existing customers, to improve relationships and uplift.
Once mobile marketing has been developed through existing customers then the move to acquisition is much easier.

2. Ticketing and Vouchering

Simply sending a promotional message is not the most effective way to engage customers. Vouchering and ticketing offer some excellent opportunities for a simple, yet compelling offer. It is cheap, simple and easily redeemable.

3. Mobile Sites

Few companies have a mobile site, thinking few people will browse it. In reality mobile users will browse your web site through their phone. Surely it’s better to ensure that the site is actually optimised for the mobile user to offer the clearest, simplest and best experience.

4. Apps

This year has been all about apps, and iphone apps in particular. Mobile applications offer an excellent way to engage customers. Generally the most successful marketing apps have been utilities to engage customers – from BA’s fight times, to Nike’s training apps – they offer the best opportunity for sophisticated marketing campaigns.

5. Bluetooth Marketing

Bluetooth proximity marketing is finally coming of age. Good hardware combined with powerful management software means that sending rich content to mobile users in situ is a real possibility. Recent Bluetooth campaigns have shown a high level of take up by mobile users.

6. Text to win/text voting

This old classic has shown it’s resilience and continues to offer potential. The recent Walker’s SMS campaign saw over 1 million responses.

7. QR

Although it hasn’t entirely taken off, Quick Recognition codes have resulted in some successful campaigns: Pepsi’s QR offer this year saw a large response, as well as campaigns by car manufacturers such as BMW and Volvo.

8. Appointment Reminders

It’s simple, but effective. If a business relies on people turning up to appointments, then SMS has been shown to significantly improve turn up rates – from health and beauty, through to the motor trade, it is a simple way to bring in more customers.

9. Location Services

LBS has never really shown it’s true potential due to issues of privacy and cost of delivery. However, location apps, such as Last Minute’s NRU, have shown how location-based information can bring real marketing benefits.

10. UGC and Social Media

It’s not all one way traffic! Encouraging, even incentivising users to submit their own content whether through mobile internet, SMS or Bluetooth is the future for mobile marketing. Mobile Social Media, from twitter to facebook offer true long term potential.