Free mobile for advertising impressions; it's only a matter of time

Picture 29.pngBlyk, a free mobile service targeted at 16-24 year olds in Europe, has recently announced their expansion beyond their test markets in the UK, Germany and France. The company provides free minutes and text messages to its users, and in exchange they receive ads from marketers. The ads are targeted based on the profile of the user.

If you remember, this is the model that Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google talked about in November 2006 that got the whole world buzzing. Blyk has been so well received that they reached their initial subscriber goals of 100,000 users six months ahead of schedule.

Here is a short overview movie from Blyk that explains the whole process.

It is only a matter of time before this model comes to the US (though the way our mobile infrastructure is set up it will be much harder to gain the same level of traction). This does however, seem to be a fairly easy way for marketers to reach a targeted audience in a permission-based environment on a mobile device.

Heck, I could see the potential for a very small handful of global marketers try this on their own using this the MVNO model. MVNOs lease parts of a network from a major carrier and re-brand it as a new service. Examples of MVNOs include Virgin Mobile, mobileESPN, Firefly and Amp'd.

What are your thoughts on this model? Would you receive ads for mobile minutes? As a marketer, would you be interested in participating in something like this?


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Mobile marketing 101: The push

Push


This is the first in a series of posts I am going to do regarding mobile marketing strategy and tactics. You can't surf through the web today without seeing some iteration of mobile marketing. Everyone from the Wall Street Journal to AdAge is covering the ways in which marketers are creating new, mobile customer engagement opportunities.

While I'm sure some of these campaigns are founded in keen strategic insight, and not by "me too" marketer-envy, there are some significant challenges to overcome. The mobile web is, compared to the web we access from our computers, in its infancy. We're talking about straight up 1996, buttonized, non-engaging user interfaces and one-size-fits-all content. The problems I see with the mobile web are about 5% in technology and 95% in a lack of understanding on the part of marketers. Go to most major sites on the web today and take a look on your phone. It's ugly, it's impersonal and 99% of the time it's the same site you see on your desktop but scrunched and battered into an almost incomprehensible form.

Does it take a lot of work to get your mobile initiatives up and running? The answer is yes. I won't lie. You have to change your thinking and apply different rules. You may even need to make up new rules. The format and architecture is new and can't be borrowed from someplace else.

Is it worth it to do this? Absolutely! If you go to a site that is made for mobile, you will see what I mean. The formatting is clean, the response is quick and the information you need is right there in front of you. You find yourself appreciative of the effort that company has taken to make sure your experience is a good one. Try going to http://m.google.com on your device and let me know what you think.

We need to put things into perspective. Mobile marketing is new. Devices are improving all the time and standardization is slowly beginning to creep in. Acceptance of mobile marketing is also just starting to pick up. I posted late last week on a study that the Mobile Marketing Association published, which found that only 2% of all US phone users have engaged in any form of marketing on mobile devices.

Mobile marketing is a growth area for sure, but should not be treated the same as a website. It needs new thinking, new strategy and new tactics to make sure you're reaching the right people with the right message.

So, let's look at mobile push marketing. To re-iterate my previous post, only after a user confirms their opt-in to receive your message should you engage in any marketing campaign with them. Unrequested push marketing is spam and could lead to a major backlash and loss of subscribers. Mobile users should be treated like a delicate flower, show lots of love, and only give them content when they ask for it.

One practical example of push marketing that works is content alerting. You see this all the time with sports sites where users can sign up to receive score updates. The information is generated as it happens and each instance is not specifically requested by the user. These short messages are great ways to add value to an advertiser or promote an upcoming contest. This method works well with content that is followed closely and updated frequently. Best practices here would include batching information (sending scores at the end of the game or inning and not every time a point is scored).

Other examples of push marketing are using advertising on other related content sites, sending one-time surveys or picture messages (if opted in for), weather and other site content updates and sending instant coupons to users. The coupon idea will be discussed later this week and has some major hurdles to jump before it becomes a reality for users. The more customized and relevant the message the more value your customers will see.

So, do your customers use mobile technology? One way to determine some level of interest is to look at your current web site's stat reporting software (HitBox, WebTrends, etc.) and look in the browser info section to see if mobile devices are hitting your site. You may also want to run a short poll or survey to get more information on what customers would find useful. Some businesses may be tailoring something like this to an internal audience who all use one device. In this case more specific campaigns can be created and opting in could be automatic (i.e.; all sales people receive real-time quota info or pricing updates).

No matter what your industry this is something you could be participating in now with some planning and dedication to the medium. Next up I'll talk about creating mobile versions of existing websites. That's one example that every single marketer should be looking at to meet the status quo, but to do it right takes some new thinking.

Past Mobile Marketing 101 posts:


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Mobile marketing 101: Yes means no (until you say it twice)

yield.gifI am starting my series on mobile marketing today and one of the key points to lay out first is the idea of the confirmed opt-in. This has become the de-facto standard for gaining acceptance from a consumer before reaching them on their mobile device.

What does this mean you ask? Normally, say for an email newsletter, you complete a form, click a checkbox that says you want to be contacted and viola. You receive an email with a link to confirm your intentions to join the list.

The same is true for mobile campaigns. It's actually more important in mobile due to the fact that it may cost the user money (text message fees, airtime, etc.) and the juvenescence of this form of marketing in the eyes of the consumer. (Some mobile campaign creators will actually triple confirm their users. This is a little excessive, but possible.) This confirmation can happen through a website, text message, email, phone call or through snail mail (*gasp*), but it needs to happen.

So this is the first standard that any marketer should follow for any mobile campaign. This is a new touch point for your brand. Consumers are very protective of their mobile space and will defend it against unsolicited marketing more than any other medium. If done right this can be a nice asset in your toolbox. If done wrong it can be a PR nightmare.

The MMA has a code of conduct document you should check out before doing anything else.

Past Mobile Marketing 101 posts:


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Mobile marketing 101

There are a lot of different ways marketers are using, or are thinking of using mobile technologies to reach consumers. Over the next couple of days I am going to show you what tactics are currently in use, their goals and challenges and see what the future may hold.

The mobile marketing space is REALLY the wild west right now with a lack of regulations and standards. Smart marketers should use the tactics that reach their target most effectively (yes this sounds like common sense, but many companies are recommending solutions which do not work for this very reason).

Tomorrow I'll start with push marketing technologies. If there are any topics you would like me to cover please let me know in the comments for this post.

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Mobile marketing acceptance

Laura Marriott, Executive Director of the Mobile Marketing Association and ClickZ contributor, has a nice article on the growing consumer interest in mobile marketing. Some of their findings:


  • 48% increase in phone usage
  • 69% use text messaging, 44% use it daily
  • 16% have use TV voting
  • 25-34 year olds were most familiar with Common Short Codes
  • There was a 4% decrease in interest for marketing on phones
  • Youth are most receptive
  • Only 2% have engaged in any form of mobile marketing
  • Highest interest is in alerts, downloads and coupons (push on demand)

So, while marketers are going more and more to the mobile space, the reality is that it's a strategy in transition. Marketers who can find ways to engage customers on their devices which they are accepting of will take the lead. Marketers going to the pre-college market could make inroads for mainstream acceptance.

In the next week I will be posting a series of articles outlining what is happening in mobile and how marketers can make sure they're ready when their customers are. Stay tuned.


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Google releases AdSense API beta

Google just released their beta for the AdSense API which will allow developers to create and manage AdSense accounts as well as have more control over the appearance of the ads on the site. Stay tuned.

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