Mobile Marketing. It’s all about privacy.

Something that the previous post on the mobile directory enquiries has raised is the way that individuals feel about their privacy. You only have to look at the reaction to them, or to Google’s Street View (or Latitude or Behaivoural Targetted Advertsng) to see that we value our privacy.

From the stand-point of the UK, I believe that many of us feel the errosion of our privacy, from endless cameras, to monitoring of emails, chips in our passports and the possible introduction of ID cards. So, when a company seems to abuse that for marketing purposes the reaction is pretty adverse. It is especially the case with our mobile phones, as they are highly personal and the thing we have with us most of the time.

It is essential that mobile marketers understand the feelings about privacy. Regardless of whether it is compliant with the regulations,  marketing campaigns must respect the narrow permission spectrum that comes with mobile.

Mobile Directory Enquiries: still controversial

There was much talk in the press in June about the 118 800 mobile directory enquiries service. Most of it regarded the service as controversial for both offering to find mobile users and for it’s opt out process. We reported on it at the time:  Privacy storm as directory 118 800 releases 15 million mobile numbers

Clearly the public were equally concerned, as the website was deluged by opt out requests. So many people, in fact, that the site went down. Not only that, the site is still offline, and explains that opt out requests cannot be taken through the site any longer.

What is the problem with 118 800?

The mobile directory service doesn’t seem to be in breach of any regulations: the 15 million numbers were obtained from opt in lists provided by brokers and research companies; they do not pass only mobile numbers – they simply contact the person you’re looking for on your behalf; they would not allow any marketing and they have an opt out service.

However, that isn’t the issue. The problem for mobile users is one of privacy. Mobiles are highly personal devices. We carry them with us almost all the time (even by our bedside), we store all our contacts on there and we text or call our loved ones from them. It seems that anything that appears to breach our perception privacy, regardless of whether it is within the regulations is met with understandable outrage and derision.

People were concerned that they had managed to get hold of their numbers. Though they appear have been obtained quite legitimately, most of us would want to give specific permission to have our mobile number used or forwarded.

118 800 didn’t help matters by having an over long and over complicated opt out service – you had to register on the site (when it was working) and wait many days for your number to be taken out. I’m sure this has not helped with the public suspicion of the service.

In the long run, I suspect the company simply don’t have a business model. £1 per enquiry is expensive for starters. And for that, they only try to contact the person for you. However, the additional mistrust means that many people will be put off using them. For example, if I use the service, will my mobile number be added to their database? Will I have to go through a complex opt out process?

From a mobile marketing standpoint, it shows the importance of clarity, simplicity and consent for any campaigns. Many people are happy to receive marketing information where there is a clear offer and benefit. However, they are only prepared to let that happen if they have specifically requested it.

In the meantime it will be interesting to see when the 118 800 site will reappear and how long the service will run for.

Are Coca-Cola Missing a Trick?

Coca-Cola have announced that they are to give away phone credits through their latest promotion on Dr Pepper and Sprite.

This is an interesting move, as it is the first time that a promotion has given away phone credit. Previously it has been difficult with the operators, as there has been no mechnaism in the UK to give credit to a third party. However, Coca-Cola have been able to make arrangements with the mobile operators to do this. It also makes it possible for other brands to follow. The offer for free phone credit may prove to be very attractive to consumers. It’s the next best thing to ‘free money’.

On the downside, the offer can only be redemed through traditional media, such as post or through outlets. Perhaps if Coca-Cola had used SMS as a method of redeming the credit (for example, by texting a voucher code to a shortcode number), they could have created one of the most successful campaigns of the summer. Maybe they should take a leaf out of Walker’s Crisps marketing books, who ran one of the most successful UK mobile marketing campaigns earlier this year.

Augmented Reality: the next big thing in mobile?

They’ve been talking about it for a while, but the first augmented reality apps are starting to appear.

The concept of augmented reality is this: you point your camera phone at something on the street, and an overlay pops up with more information. An obvious example would be a historical building, where the AR app would overlay useful information.

Its a clever use of location services, mobile camera, image recognition etc. The first app that I saw was an Android one for Amsterdam. The latest one to grab the imagination is an iphone app that shows you the nearest Tubes:

The potential from a mobile marketing point of view is massive. Point your camera at a shop and it will list the latest offers, or send you a voucher. Point it down the street and it will tell you the nearest bar, cafe, cinema, bus station etc.

As with all technology though, it remains to be seen whether users actually want it. Reality, afterall, is real enough. Why do we want it augmented?

Orange to sell the LG Watch Phone

Orange have announced that they will be selling LGs Watch Phone from this August. It is aimed firmly at the must-have gadget geek and sold on a sim only or pay as you go tariff.

The phone itself looks quite neat, and uses touch screen and text-to-voice technology. It does mean that you’ll be talking into your wrist and voices will be coming out of your watch. So who is actually going to buy this?

Sci-fi will tell us that we’ll all have wearable communications in the future, but the fact remains that people do not adopt technology that makes them look silly. You only have to look at Sinclair’s C5, or the Segway to see that. With the exception of some Californians, who would want to ride around on a Segway?

Similarly, Bluetooth headsets worn outside of the car look stupid. Apart form taxi drivers and night club bouncers few people wear them.

Whilst smart phones and touch screens were this year’s bandwagon in mobile, the point is, I don’t expect to see a rush of watch phones appearing on the market anytime soon.

Mobile complaints down

Not very exciting, but vaguely interesting news: PhonePayPlus, the premium rate phone line regulator has reported that complaints about premium rate services halved last year. Good news and it seems that the service providers are finally getting the message that customers will not be ripped off.

In the last few years there have been a number of premium rate scandals mostly from TV companies. The drop in the ring tone market and the premium ‘subscription’ service may also have helped. That is not a result of better regulations but simply that the technology has moved on: most people just download tracks and set them as their ringtones now.

Complaints about unsolicited messages were also down by 85%. Again, this may be due more to the current economic climate and a change in marketing tactics. Still, it’s good news for mobile marketers.