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April 26, 2007

Mobile Advertising: Fact or Fiction?

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Heidi Lehmann (Chair of the Mobile Marketing Association) is moderating today’s Mobile Advertising panel with speakers Kim Olson (Sprint), Omar Hamoui (AdMob), Michael Bayle (Yahoo! Inc.) and Jack Hallahan (MobiTV).

This session seems to be starting a little late. Methinks it’s because of the 100 or so overflowing Krispy Kreme boxes located on the tables directly outside the session rooms. What’s more important to you on a gloomy afternoon: a session on mobile advertising or stuffing your face with some glazed gooey goodness? (You’re drooling.)

Why is there suddenly so much excitement about mobile? Is it real or is it just hype? Today’s sessions is going to focus on the promises of mobile, the threats, and determine if the buzz legit? Hopefully, anyway. I’m sure we’ll find a tangent along the way.

Heidi first educates us on the four types of mobile media. There’s SMS, mobile interactive advertising, downloadable apps and mobile video.

In order to explain to what’s working and what’s not, the panel presents some case studies.

Kim says the things working the most are campaigns executed with a very strong call to action, an offer or something that is designed to engage the consumer, rather than just a logo.

She talks about a campaign executed by Pepsi during this year’s Super Bowl to promote various new soda can designs that tied in with their Super Bowl ads. They did things like run several different banner ads, allowed users to submit soda can design ideas, gave them the chance to win Super Bowl tickets for life, offered downloadable wallpaper, etc. The campaign lasted a mere four days and the clickthrough rates for the banner ran between 3-7 percent. They also saw a 50 percent conversion rate for people downloading Pepsi-branded wallpaper, and a 60 percent conversion rate of people clicking through to watch Pepsi videos. That’s nothing to laugh at.

Next, she highlights a campaign run by Jack’s company MobiTV. Aw, panel love.

Omar shares an example of a campaign Adidas ran for the World Cup that let users download all sorts of targeted World Cup media. In the end, Adidas got forty percent of their leads at 4 percent of budget. AdMob alone delivered over 180,000 visits and over 4 million advertising impressions.

He also talks about a campaign for Paramount that illustrated by simply personalizing an ad and asking user a question, it can lead to a significant increase in the clickthrough rate. You can test things at a low cost before committing to a high spend.

The panelists remind us that mobility isn’t always about the mobile phones. Look at mobile as it passes through to WiFi as it passes through to broadband, etc. Mobile is everywhere. Jack says that integrated interactive advertising is the next big thing to hit mobile.

He notes that in Japan consumers are already more engaged via mobile than PC throughout the day. How much longer until that reaches over to the States? This year? Next year? Only time will tell.
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Heidi asks about consumer experience. How is the consumer reacting to mobile?

Kim says that was clearly one of the most important things she had to focus on as a carrier when they were contemplating opening their services up to advertising. She cares very much about doing things that her subscribers want. She doesn’t want them calling customer service. Sprint spent a long time conducting tests and trials. One of the things she did was expose 600,000 users to display ads over a 30 day period and tracked calls to customer care for those subscribers to check for a negative result. The results were positive.

Kim notes that Sprint purposely started in an area that was the least disruptive to someone browsing on their mobile phone. With display ads, it’s totally up to the consumer on whether or not they want to engage.

Michael says there needs to be a convergence towards dynamic pricing models. It’s odd when you have publishers that charge $3.99 for a magazine, charge the same for the content on mobile, and then gives it away from free on the PC. He’s convinced that mobile needs to reflect the best of advertising and the best of what’s available on the PC to be truly effective.

Omar argues that a lot of what’s being attempted on mobile is very analogous to what’s being done on the Internet. The ad models are similar. A lot of the lessons that were learned online are being followed on mobile. At the same time, there are unique targeted ideas that are being used on mobile. The initial attempts at mobile are very much colored by what’s being done online. Advertisers are measuring things the same way.

Jack says what’s interesting is where we’re going to see each of these media channels cross over and help each other out. You’re starting to see the ability to take advantage of the crossover.

Heidi asks if you are a brand that wants to launch mobile advertising campaigns, what’s the best way to find out the most important considerations? What’s working the best today?

Omar says what’s really working right now is knowing what you want and what you want out of your campaign before you launch. Your campaign should not be based or tracked by a third-party. You should be able to measure it yourself.

Kim says if she was a brand trying to get into mobile she’d work with her ad agency and ask them to think about ways mobile can extend the campaigns that they’re already running in other media. There’s a lot of interactivity that mobile can ad to print or TV campaigns. You really need to think about mobile from the standpoint from how can we and what offer do we put forth that will engage the consumer. That’s what’s working the strongest. The purpose of the ad should be to engage the consumer. Don’t just put up a useless graphic.

Mobile is putting the fourth leg on the advertising stool. It lets you target the right customers at the right time in the right way. Think about how mobile is going to help you drive your brand message and put the message in front of customers when they’re in the position to actually be at your location.

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