Apple ipad: a new medium for marketing?

I pose the question because a number have people have mentioned that notepads could represent a new medium for marketing and advertising. Certainly with Apple’s entry into the market with the ipad, they may be creating a significant new channel.
Apple have managed it to create something of a new marketing channel with the iphone and more specifically with apps. Even though the iphone represents a tiny fraction of the total mobile users (and less than 2% of the UK market), brands have been rushing to get their apps into the appstore. Market penetration aside, the iphone has caught the imagination of marketers who are providing everything from games to utilities on behalf of brands.
So what of the ipad? Well it’s not a mobile phone. And it’s not a laptop either. It sits somewhere in the middle of everything. It is more like a personal DVD player and hand-held games console type of machine, than it is a mobile phone.
Will it create a new marketing medium? It’s too early to say for sure, but I’m going to stick my neck out and so no. There are a few reasons for that: firstly, I don’t see it having the same market penetration as an iphone or an ipod. There are 50+ million iphones and nearly 200 million ipods out there. I cannot see how the ipad fills enough of a need to match those figures. Although if anyone can create a new mass market, then Apple can.
Secondly, the nature of the consumer engagement is different to a mobile phone. Mobiles are something we carry with us all the time. We call our loved ones on it, and we personalise them with backgrounds and ringtones. Clearly the ipad will not sit in the same space. I can imagine carrying an ipod when I’m on a journey, but for day-to-day use, I doubt it. And I’ll be carry a phone as well. The ipad is not a replacement for the mobile handset. Apart from anything else it won’t be available in 3G form straight away. Therefore the impact as a marketing medium is unlikely to be as significant as a mobile phone.
Ultimately the impact and effectiveness of any marketing will be down to our particular relationship with the technology. In itself the ipad brings nothing really new – it runs the same apps as the iphone with a few bits on top. Whereas the iphone was revolutionary in respect of its approach to apps, the ipad simply runs with that existing channel.
Ultimately it’s a case of waiting to see what happens with Apples new tablet. So, watch this space!

The future of mobile advertising?

Following on from O2 More, a direct marketing channel, Orange have launched their own call Orange Shots. The idea is pretty simple – they take opt-in subscribers and send them up to three messages a week on sectors that they are specifically interested. The idea of targetted mobile advertising is not new, and Orange, having acquired Blyk, have adpoted their approach in the new channel.
However, I see two major problems with this:
Firstly, the consumer. Orange are offering free premium content to those who sign up for the program. But how much will mobile users value this in return for marketing messages. Blyk reported that their users found the marketing messages generally useful. However, the offer and relationship at Blyk was somewhat different to Orange. The former company focussed on an under 26 demographic. And for that they offered free calls, SMS and even data. That is a much more compelling offering than free premium content when you’re already paying a network subscription.
The second problem are the operators themselves. Of course each operator can only access their customers. If the T-Mobile deal gets through Europe then they will have the largest customer base of any network. But it will still not be a majority of UK mobile customers. Of those, only a small portion will sign up. More significantly is the perception of mobile operators as advertising providers both from the point of view of the consumer and that of the brands wanting to sell their wares. In short, most people see mobile operators as delivering phone calls, SMS and some data. The example of the operator mobile web portals shows this. As soon as users have a chance to avoid the portal (for example through the iphone), they will go elsewhere. From a brand’s perspective, who would you go to for marketing? Your an existing online provider (Google), your ad agency or a mobile operator? With Google’s acquisition of AdMob, the search provider looks to be a good option for brands. Google have experience in delivering results in this kind of area. Agencies understand the whole brand and marketing mix. I suspect that operators are way down the list of choices.
The mobile operators need to find new sources of revenues. Phone ownership is at saturation point and most people have the subscripition or tariff they are happy with. So, there are no new customers and no one is likely to spend any more on their phone calls etc. It means that the operators are stuck if they want to increase revenues. That is why they are looking at direct marketing and platforms such as Orange Shots.
It’s true that Orange have done a good job of the offering. They are encouraging brands to create a dialogue with their customers and feeding back good, solid reponse data. Ultimately though, how much direct advertising are mobile users prepared to accept? I suspect it won’t be that much.

Top Ten predicitions for mobile in 2009: were they right?

A year ago I wrote a mu top 10 predcitions in mobile and mobile marketing for 2009. Was I right? I have marked myself on the accuracy of the predictions. Have I been too generous in my assessment? Comments welcomed!

• SMS will grow continue to grow
10/10 – according to the MDA SMS in June 08 was 6 billion and 7.7 billion in June 09, a rise of 28% (and that’s in a recession). SMS marketing has followed suit.

* Bluetooth marketing will grow
7/10 – It hasn’t been the stuff of headlines, but during the last year Bluetooth marketing has been rolled out in a number of commuter networks and shopping centres. For many of these public networks the focus has been on vouchering to drive sales. With an average download rate of 5% of footfall, expect to see the Bluetooth marketing trend continuing.

• QR will become more commonplace
5/10 – the problem is still that many handsets do not have the readers installed. However, some high profile brands have conducted campaigns in the last year. Such as Pepsi and M&S who used QR codes on juice packs for their discount promotion. The advantage of using QR was that it was easy to use where there was limited space on the packaging.

* MMS will grow … but it will continue to remain niche
10/10 – According to the MDA figures there was a rise of 11% in MMS usage in the UK between June 08 (44 million) and June 09 (49 million). In comparison to SMS it remains small.

* Mobile Couponing and Ticketing will increase
7/10 – Juniper predicts that 300 million people will be using them in the next 5 years. Many retail brands have recently taken the plunge into mobile coupons. However these have often been small scale trials. One problem that plagues such campaigns is the redemption issue, where stores cannot integrate barcodes or sales staff enter the wrong voucher number into the system.

* Network Operator Location Based Services (LBS) will NOT take off
8/10 – I predicted that the costs form network operators would be a major barrier to LBS. In that respect I was correct, however, LBS has taken off in mobile apps using the GPS built into smartphones. In the branded sector this has typically taken the form of store finders, although apps such as Last Minute’s NRU have shown how LBS can enhance a brand’s image.

• Mobile internet overtakes PC based internet use
5/10 – There are no current figures for the UK, however Europe and worldwide figures show significant growth in mobile internet usage. Newer developments such as the iphone and Twitter have driven this increase. Mobile will take over from fixed internet but it will take another few years before it happens.

* Mobile security will become a bigger issue
7/10 – It may not have made the headline news, but there were many examples of mobile phone ‘cracking’ and phishing attempts this year. Using technology company, 41st Parameter reported that the increase in both smartphones and mobile operating system has led to an increase in fraud attempts. Last year saw mobile banking phishing sites for the first time. In the UK, a number of unsolicited campaigns by accident claims companies and the sale of data by a T-Mobile employee led to greater media awareness of the problem.

* Targeted and Niche Advertising will grow
7/10 – There have been some significant changes in the mobile advertising sector: new operator initiatives, such as the Orange and Blyk partnership and Google’s acquisition of Admob. Although there has been some growth in the sector, the major ramp up in mobile advertising is predicted for 2010 and beyond.

• The Iphone will become ‘just another phone’
2/10 – Although Apple remains third placed in the smartphone market, behind Nokia and RIM’s Blackberry (for which I gabe myself the two points!), the iphone has consolidated it’s position as the handset by which all others are judged. It also won a ‘coolest brand’ of the year award in the UK. Similarly, brands, from Nike to NatWest, have made their iphone apps the centre of their mobile marketing initiatives.

Twitter using SMS to help brands to connect to users

A news report this week explained how a trial, run by a third party, on Twitter has allowed brands to connect with users through SMS.
Having read the article I can honestly say that I don’t really understand what the service is or how it works! The principle seems to be that it uses mobile marketing to get users to connect to their Twitter feed. But, if the service is unclear, who will use it?

In a month long trial the company claims that brands had an increase of between 66% and over 3,000% in user uptake. Of course, they didn’t say what the starting point was for each brand.

Apparently a major brand has now signed up for the full advertising service.

But I’m still confused! What’s the revenue model – ie who is paying for it and who is making the money? The companies involved haven’t said. I presume it’s the brands that pay for the advertising, but I am not convinced of the benefit. OK, more people sign up to your feed. Fair enough. But that in itself does not bring business. It comes back to my long-standing issue with social media, and Twitter in particular. I do not believe they are advertising media. Twitter itself has no commercial model (yet), and advertising is not welcomed by its users. Social media sites are good places for users to engage with brands, give feedback and for other CRM activities, but I don’t see it as a sales channel. I would love someone to show me where brands have achieved measurable sales from social media.

Personally I don’t see how this new Twitter service will take off.

SMS Spam: taking it personally

We have just release a survey and white paper into mobile user’s attitude towards spam messages. It revealed some interesting results – one of them was that people take SMS spam very personally.

68% of our respondents had received some kind of SMS spam.

If you’ve received a spam SMS, do you remember what it was? Chances are you do. How many spam messages have you ever received? One or two? I suspect it’s a handful at most.

Now compare that with email. Do you know the last spam message you got? Quite unlikely. Do you know how many you have ever had? Or how many in the last week? Or last day? I doubt that many people know the answer to this.

So why do we remember mobile spam so clearly? Naturally there are relatively few spam text messages, so that is part of the reason. But the other part is that most of us take it very personally. When you think about it, that’s hardly surprising. Most of us are just a few feet away from our mobile phone at all times. If we forget it when we leave the house most of us feel lost without it. It’s the device that we text our loves on. We customise them with backgrounds and ringtones. Increasingly it’s also the place where we store our personal photos. How many other technology devices do we have that kind of relationship with?

So, the mobile phone IS personal. If you are marketing to phones, you need to understand that it is the case, and be very mindful of the relationship through the phone.

That’s not to say that we don’t want marketing messages on our phone. We do. The study also showed that 55% are happy to receive offers and promotions from brands that they have selected. The point is that mobile users want CONTROL. And lots of it.

The other day I received messages from two restaurants. I had given them my mobile number as part of a booking over a year a go. They didn’t ask me if I wanted to receive these messages. They just assumed that I did. It was quite within the regulations to send such messages as a soft opt-in, but I was understandably put out. I complained to both restaurants.

The study also showed that we want to choose the time of day and frequency of the messages we receive. So, if brands want to market to mobile phones, there are plenty of people happy to receive that information. But they shouldn’t assume that we all automatically want to be told about everything. Brands need to seek permission and give users control over what and when they receive their messages.

Please click the following link if you would like to read the Mobile Spam Survey in full.

SMS marketing on the rise?

It’s interesting to see that SMS marketing is becoming pretty common place these days. On Friday I received two marketing messages from restaurant’s that I’d been to.

What was interesting is that I didn’t specifically opt-in to receive messages, and I hadn’t been to either place for a year. It’s always suprising when you receive a marketing message on your phone so long after the event. In terms of the UK regulations (PEC regulations), it is quite acceptable and counts as a ‘soft opt-in’.

I make it clear to many of my clients that if you are intending to use your customer’s mobile numbers then you should make it very clear to them. Perhaps a message shortly after using their service to say something along the lines of ‘We will send you occassional offers etc … to opt-out ..’.

The good thing about both of these campaigns is that there was a clear offer. One was a discount and the other was for free champagne. Interstingly, the first restaurant sent the message twice and the second sent their offer by email in response to my SMS. Neither of these are particularly satisfactory. If I receive a marketing message on my mobile then I want to be able to get the offer/redemption through my mobile!

It’s still all about iphone Apps

Speaking to prospective clients about marketing campaigns, the focus is still very much on iphone apps. To some extent it is the inevitable fact that these apps can be exciting, add functionality and best of all, they gain external PR.
I was recently approched by a luxury brand, who wanted to make a mobile offering. As usual, I outlined the options, form SMS to mobile web. I pointed out that most of their clients were Blackberry users (who represent nearly double the number of iphone users) and that the Blackberry App may be the best way forward. And guess what? They still want the iphone App.

The iphone demographics suggested that over 70% are men. Shame really as most of the decision makers/buyers in the luxury goods market (even men’s products) are women. And 90% of apps are opened once or never at all!

Ultimately I guess for a brand it’s all about impressing people. It would seem that an iphone app is the best way to do that.

Making Mobile Marketing Work

In my DMA role, we ran an event on Tuesday called ‘Making Mobile Marketing Work’. The aim was to be very practical and present case studies that shows how mobile marketing can work successfully for brands.
We were very fortunate that we had four excellent presentations from brands all covering different areas of mobile marketing. There were quite a few note worthy points that came out of the day:

Along with some data from their Exposure 2 study, Steve Ricketts, the Orange speaker mentioned a number of really interesting campaigns. Orange Weds, the two for one cinema offer is perhaps one of the best known campaigns in the UK. An interesting result though has been that Wednesdays has gone from being the quietest day for cinema attendance to the second busiest (after Saturday), thanks in part to the Orange Weds programme. A great example of an offer and voucher scheme for mobile.

In many ways, Marks and Spencers were the star of the show, and provide a great example of how brands can implement mobile. M&S has a pretty traditional customer base, many of them represented by women over 50. They took the approach of starting small and working up from there. Vouchering for their Back to School campaign, and offers such as Eat In for £10 have been very successful mobile campaigns for them.
They have just started putting QR (well technically 2D barcodes) on their juice packs which go to the M&S mobile site. This is quite significant for M&S, as they are getting their customers to download and get used to the idea of QR. It means they can introduce more sophisticated campaigns using that technology.

This is the digital communication section of the UK Government covering every aspect of health, transport, taxation etc. When it comes to mobile marketing, it is a nice surprise to see the government actually leading the way. In particular, their mobile site is highly functional and well produced.

The homeless and housing charity did a brief presentation on how they have used mobile as a means to retain direct debit donors. Although not an entirely new idea, it works well for Shelter. Their focus was to send the donors positive messages about the way their contributions have helped particular individuals. The result was a much higher level of direct debit uptake.

I summed up the workshop, and noted that a few clear themes came out of the session:
Mobile is very personal so marketing must be highly relevant.
It needs to be innovative, interactive and work across all channels, not just mobile.
And above all, there must be TRUST.

I also warned brands not to get too hung up on ROI. Looking at the experience of the brands like M&S, Orange and COI, they focussed on developing their mobile marketing first. Experimenting and finding out what works. The ROI will follow on from that.

Finally to echo something that Sienne Veit from M&S said, don’t worry if your customers are ready for mobile marketing. Your customers are already there. The question to brands is ‘are you on mobile’?

Top Ten Tips for Mobile Marketing: SMS

SMS marketing may appear to be very simple, after all it’s very direct and there’s just 160 charcters of text. However as mobile is such a personal yet interactive medium, many campaigns are over complex, poorly targetted and lack a simple offer.

I have writting a Top Ten Tips for Mobile Marketing guide focussing on SMS. Hope you find it useful.

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.