Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Death of the 'Smart Phone'

I recently visited a wireless store to see what was available for a basic phone. Nothing special, just talk and text. What do you think I found there?

When signing up for a 3 year plan, basic phones are available for $0. The sales guy behind the counter says he doesn't sell many of those. Most spend at least $50 for a more featured phone.

Without spending hundreds of dollars for an iPhone or a Blackberry Storm, a mere $50 spent with a new plan gets a pretty good phone.

As an example, the LG Rumour 2 is a 3G network phone, with talk, text, bluetooth capability, a colour screen, a 1.3 Megapixel camera with 2x digital zoom, MMS (multimedia message) capability, a slide-out full Qwerty keyboard, an MP3 player with headphone jack, USB-to-computer sync capability, and basic clock, alarm clock, organizer and calculator functions. Oh, plus also email capability.

While not as fully featured as a more expensive phone, this phone packs a pretty good punch for the average consumer. Just a few years ago, this phone would have been considered top-of-the-line; a smart phone from 2007.

Following this trend, we can expect a basic $50 phone two years from now to look a lot like the current top offerings from Blackberry or Apple. Essentially, ALL phones will be smart phones.

The term 'Smart Phone' will wither and die, as a moniker for differentiating certain attributes on phones will no longer be required.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mobile Marketing in Canada

Amellie Lake, CEO of Vancouver-based Tagga Media, recently wrote about the state of mobile marketing in Canada. She suggests that Canada is very much behind the rest of the world in terms of mobile activities from marketers. This situation is strange, because Canadian mobile penetration is high, text-message usage is high and mobile browsing is high. This means that Canadians will probably experience an explosion of mobile marketing activities - likely soon, as the current economic recession appears to be winding down.

Read her full article here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Doritos Text Messaging

A while back, I wrote about the Doritos Guru campaign. This was not specifically a mobile campaign, but I liked it so much that I wrote about it anyway.

Now, in the USA at least, Doritos is utilizing text-message based mobile marketing to help launch a new product. At least, that's what they claim. It appears to me that they are using the hype of the new product to build their mobile contact list. Something that I have recommended to all my clients.

Read the full article here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Facebook Vanity URL

Our friend Phil, who writes on his Burning the Bacon with Barrett blog, reminds us all to go and get your own vanity URL from Facebook, before the one you want is taken by somebody else.

I got mine:

Monday, June 8, 2009

Proximity Marketing for Restaurants

I have previously written on Proximity marketing. While I believe that proximity is, for the most part, somewhat ahead of what Canadian consumers are ready for, there also exists a few opportunities for proximity right now.

One of those is restaurants. Typically, customers experience some idle time in restaurants, while waiting for a table, while waiting for their order to be taken and while waiting for their food to arrive. What better time to take advantage of a captive audience that these points in a restaurant experience.

A fellow blogger from Greece recently wrote about mobile marketing in restaurants on his blog. You can read it here.

Keep in mind that Greece, as well as the rest of Europe, has been engaged in mobile marketing activities much longer than North America. Many of the concepts he discusses are in the good-to-know-for-the-future category. But some of them can be executed locally right away.

Monday, June 1, 2009

My Other Gig

While I am primarily a marketer, I also have a little side job with the Canadian Auto Press. They arrange to give me a new press car from an auto manufacturer once in a while, and I write them an article about that car.

My first ever article was just published online:

It's a review of the 2010 Toyota Corolla. Coming up in the next few weeks, I have the following articles scheduled to be published:
- preview of BMW X5-M and X6-M
- 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee
- Mini E (all electric vehicle)

After this, I generally won't be posting on this blog about car articles, but if you want to find out when they are published, sign up for my twitter feed. That way you can read my new car articles, AND find out about new posts on this blog.

Twitter ID: 3rdscreenmarket

Outdoor Goes Mobile

For a time this spring I was contacting local radio stations, major daily newspapers and outdoor media companies to offer bulk text-messaging services, and suggest that they offer it to their advertising clients.

Text, as we know, is the entry-point for all mobile marketing activities. And certainly at this time in the evolution of mobile, and for most mainstream consumer products, text should be the primary mobile point of contact between the brand and the consumer.

As I have previously written, text does not work by itself. It does works very well when promoted via mainstream media - specifically newspaper, radio and outdoor.

So it was little surprise when I heard that CBS Outdoor Media in the US now officially offer mobile to it's advertisers. Their package offers a keyword and use of a shortcode, and allows their advertisers to start developing a database of consumers who are interested in their brand, and interested in receiving text message communications from that brand.

For an outdoor media company (or a newspaper or radio station), this is a no brainer. Corporate marketing departments and advertising agencies are going to be sourcing their bulk text messaging from somewhere, and it makes sense that they can get it in a one-stop-shop process from the media company that is going to carry the text-message call-to-action.

Source article on CBS Outdoor is available here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Proof that I am Brilliant

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you'll find a lot of familiar themes in this video about the challenges of mobile marketing. Many of the things I have preached about in my writings are repeated by industry leaders in the USA.

Clearly, they have been reading this blog too.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Scream Cheese

Remember the Dorito's Guru campaign that I wrote about a few months ago? It's been executed and completed. And the winner was Ryan Coopersmith from Montreal, Quebec.

Ryan created the name Scream Cheese, and developed this really funny 30 second commercial. Not sure if Ryan is a marketing professional, but it's well done and right on target demo for Doritos.

And kudos to the Dorito's marketing team for developing this campaign which fosters consumer investment in the Dorito's brand.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Even More Proximity

Last week I wrote about proximity marketing in airports. Now, both Subaru and Burger King are experimenting with a different kind of location-based mobile strategy.

Instead of targeting consumers within a certain location, these campaigns are both designed to help the consumer find the retail location that is closest to them, at the time that they are interested in the brand.

Banner ads were run on various mobile networks. Clicking on them activates a location-based process that determines approximately where the consumer is at that moment (using cellular network towers) and offers the location of the closest retail outlet.

As mobile develops out of infancy, it is interesting to watch the exprimentation of different strategy models. It will be even more interesting to see which ones thrive, and which fall by the wayside.

Full article here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Proximity in Airports

More and more airports around the world are offering Bluetooth services for travellers.

Airports are an ideal location for Bluetooth marketing. They are heavily populated, with significant traffic flow of travellers - people looking for local goods and services.

I had previously learned about Bluetooth activities in Athens, Bristol and New Orleans airports, but recently read about Jose Pucnik Airport in Slovenia on the Mobiz blog.

Travellers are invited to turn on their Bluetooth devices to receive travel tips, local information, recommended attractions and goods/services coupon offers. The service is offered in Slovene or English.

It is a joint project between the airport authority and the Slovenian Tourist Board.

Given that travellers need to make decisions about transportation, accommodation and sightseeing activities, this service makes perfect sense. I expect that we will see every airport eventually offer Bluetooth activities.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mobile Marketing is NOT a branch of Web Marketing

Since I started in mobile, I've been preaching that web-based marketing activities and mobile activities are completely seperate media channels. Looks like I'm not the only one who thinks this.

An article by Rob Payne in the Business section of The Australian newspaper makes the same arguement:

It's tempting to think of mobile marketing as something to address once you're comfortable with online marketing on the traditional internet. Likewise, marketers might be forgiven for thinking that they can allocate a budget to "digital media" and a small amount can be hived off to mobile.

Not so. The unique benefits of mobile combined with the current and projected growth rate of mobile internet usage mean that we must see it as a channel in its own right; a channel which deserves dedicated expertise both client-side and agency-side.

Read the full article here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Text Messaging - for Old People, Too

Text messaging and mobile usage statistics are really difficult to find, mostly because the arena is changing so fast.

Numbers appear to be all over the map. One source I read suggested that in the US there were 5.3 billion texts sent in December 2008. Another suggested that there are a billion sent per day. No matter which you believe, the numbers are big. And more importantly, they are growing exponentially.

For example, Canadians send approximately 100 million texts per day. This is over double the amount sent only one year ago.

But who is sending all these texts? According to Bob Bentz, President of Advanced Telecom Systems, 82% of adults aged 18-24 are avid text message users. And 72% of adults 25-49 use text messaging.

Bentz also claims that 53% of text message users are over 35.

Now, this is one of those funny stats that can be misleading. While it's quite probably true that 53% of text message users are over 35, they absolutely don't send 53% of all text messages. If I had to guess, the 35+ age group probably sends 10-20% of text messages.

However, for marketers, all it takes for a consumer to receive a brand communication via text message is that they have access to text messaging, and that they open/read text messages that they receive. And since text messaging is expanding across generations, marketers can be assured that they can reach almost anybody with text message communications.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Keeping it Simple, Stupid

I do a lot of reading on mobile marketing. Some evangelists like to spout off about the newest technologies: QR codes, proximity, iPhone apps, widgets, multimedia messaging, GPS coding, etc etc. Technology, we are told, will make mobile marketing successful.

Recently, a small business owner asked me how he can get his retail business involved in mobile. And if he should be thinking about all these new technologies that are available.

I told him - yes he should be thinking about them. But not for now, for the future.

As we know, other parts of the world are way ahead of where we are with mobile marketing. But why is that? Why can't we use the same technologies to attract consumers that they use in Japan? We have the same phones, the same networks, the same hardware capabilities.

The answer, as I explained to my friend, is that the consumer is not ready for those technologies. Yet.

But why is this, exactly? Let's examine.

When cellular phones were new in North America, the cost to pick up the phone and make a call was significantly less than it was elsewhere in the world. We payed pennies a minute to make a call. Other areas payed dollars a minute.

When text messaging became available, consumers in other areas took to it as a way to save money. Here, not so much.

And in terms of consumers coming to understand their phone as more than a phone, but as a complete mobile communications device, text messaging is the first step. North American consumers have only recently woken up to text messaging. But that's as far as most consumers have gone.

All the other technologies are nice to know about. Especially as marketers, since we need to be aware of what's coming down the pipeline.

But the answer to my small business friend, is that the best way to get started in mobile is with bulk text messaging. That is the lowest common denominator, in terms of enabling consumer access to your brand information. The fancy new technologies available right now are much too advanced for the average consumer.

So keep it simple. Start with text messaging. Worry about all that other stuff later.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Burning the Bacon with Barrett

Check out Phil Barrett's blog on mobile and interactive marketing. Phil has some smart things to say, and I expect to be referencing to his posts from time to time.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sex + Texting = Sexting

Last week I wrote a blog post about morning-after pills available to high-school aged girls via text message to the school nurse. After posting my usual announcements on Facebook and Twitter, my blog received more traffic that day than any day since I started. Apparently, sex does sell. Let's see how this post does.

This post is about 'sexting' - the act of sending nude or suggestive images/video via text message or MMS (multi-media message). Apparently, this is the new way to flirt.

The dangerous component of this is when teenagers, who are heavy text message users, are participating. Nude photos of underage people are illegal, and distribution, even via text message, can lead to a jail sentence.

Further, anybody participating in this type of activity should be very careful about who they send the photos to. Anybody who receives them can simply forward them to everybody on their phones contact list. Who of course can forward them to everybody on their contact list. And so on. And so on.

Does this mean that mobile has come of age?

Consumer Preferences

Recently somebody asked me why I feel so strongly that mobile will become a huge part of brand marketing over the next few years.

There are many answers to this question, but one of the key benefits that makes mobile so powerful is the ability for it to allow the consumer to set their own preferences.

At least in North America, mobile is following a very strict no-spam policy. That means everything is opt-in, with easy opt-out options. This is obviously a benefit to consumers, ensuring that they only receive message that they want. But importantly, this is also a huge benefit to marketers.

What? Consumers can restrict the messages they receive? How can this possibly be good for marketers?

It actually makes mobile a very powerful tool for marketers. And here's why:

1) No Wasted Messages

If a marketing department sends out a piece of direct mail, blanked to all residents within certain postal codes, they know that a certain percentage of people aren't interested in reading it. Most likely a large percentage of people. But they send it anyway, and it costs them money to send it, even to those who don't read it. Mobile only costs marketers money to send to consumers who are actively seeking communication from that brand. No wasted costs on messages to consumers who aren't interested.

2) Enthusiastic Recipients

By empowering the consumer to choose what they want to receive, mobile marketing inherently provides marketers the opportunity to reach consumers who are enthusiast about receiving communications from their chosen brands. Since the consumer is so keen, response rates to promotional offers are significantly higher than other types of media.

3) Trackable ROI

Why is ROI so important these days? Let's face it, in today's economy, marketers need effective ways to measure different types of marketing. On a more specific level, advertising agencies need to demonstrate to their clients, just as marketing-department types need to demonstrate to their supervisors, that their marketing activities are being successful. Since consumers can opt-in and opt-out at any time they want, mobile activities demonstrate, on a message-by-message basis, what types of offers generate the best response, what types of messaging holds the consumers interest, and even what types of message drive the consumer to unsubscribe. For a brand, this can be very valuable lessons, and the knowledge gained can be applied to future mobile activities, as well as to their other media spaces.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Happy Easter

Here's a little Easter holiday test you can try. Write up a brief text-message Easter greeting and send it to everybody on your phone's contact list. See how many people respond - you might be surprised.

I'm heading out of town for a couple days, for my first ever visit to the West Edmonton Mall. Of course, I'll be keeping my eye out for mobile marketing opportunities within the mall environment.

Enjoy your holiday long weekend!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mobile Morning-After Pill?

There's nothing like a little controversy to generate some awareness. And somebody in the UK has definitely found a controversial use for text messaging.

According to an article in the Times Online, highschool-aged girls at select schools in the UK will be able to use text-messaging to request a morning after pill from their school nurse. This is a trial program at 6 schools in Oxford and Banbury, although the actual schools have not been identified.

Parents will not be informed of their children's request for the emergency contraceptive. However, child protection staff will step in if the girl is under the age of 14.

I can imagine the debate now between conservative religious types and the medical community. This debate will only be good for text messaging, as it will highlight its prevalence in society.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Awareness is the Key

There are several key ingredients to a successful mobile campaign. One of those is important above all the others.

Mobile campaigns must be engaging. Because of the opt-in/opt-out nature of mobile, engaging the consumer will ensures that they will want to continue to receive messages from a brand. But this is not the most important component.

Mobile campaigns must offer added value. Coupons, delivered wirelessly, are one of the best ways to achieve this. Without added value, a text message is just words on a screen. However, added value, although important, is not the top feature for a mobile campaign to be successful.

Above all others, mobile campaigns must promote themselves. The best-designed mobile campaign ever will be a complete flop if nobody knows about it. Awareness is key.

So how does a brand promote a mobile campaign? How does the consumer find out that they can text-in-to-win? The answer is simple - mainstream advertising. Print, radio, tv and web. All these mainstream media channels can drive consumers to mobile. The call to action of many mainstream ads of the future will be to text the keyword to the shortcode. After that, the mobile campaign can take over and provide the consumer engagement that it is so good at.

I've heard numerous mobile evangelists claim that mobile will take over from other types of media. They are wrong. Mobile marketers must be aware that their new media relies on the old media to be successful. Indeed, mobile will become another, important, part of the overall marketing mix.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I originally started this blog as a way to organize my thought on all aspects of mobile marketing. However, I've been checking the traffic and it's a little more than I expected. This is a good thing.

Since I can tell that you're checking in on the blog from time to time, I'm now asking you to let me know your thoughts. Let me know what you like, what you agree/disagree with, and what topics you would like to see discussed.

You may comment to any of the posts below, or send me an email: stevekibble at gmail dot com.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour

Since Earth Hour is this evening, I thought it would be good to highlight the green component of mobile marketing. I won't get into too much detail, as I covered some of it in yesterday's post Clip or Click?

However it does bear repeating that in Canada, about 100 million coupons are redeemed annually. Based on average redemption rates, one could conclude that upwards of 10 billion coupons are printed. If we can get a significant portion of those to be delivered wirelessly, that's a lot of reduction in paper, ink and shipping.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Clip or Click?

I have previously predicted that 50% of all redeemed coupons will be mobile by the year 2012. It looks some other companies share a similar view.

Denmark mobile agency More Mobile Relations has announced that by 2010, redemption value of mobile coupons will grow by 30%. Of course, that's in their native Denmark, and I don't know what percentage of coupons are mobile over there already. Europe, and most especially Scandinavian countries, are 3-4 years ahead of us in terms of mobile marketing activities. But they share the same thoughts as me at least with regard to the general trend of mobile couponing growth.

What are the benefits of mobile coupons that will make them grow so quickly? Let's take a look.

Intent and Execution

One of the major problems of printed coupons is intent versus execution. How many times have you been driving home and stopped somewhere to buy something, only to realize that you left the coupon you wanted to use at home? This happened to me quite recently when I received a coupon in the mail for an oil change. It actually reminded me that I needed to get the oil changed on my car, and so I made an plan to get that done. The next day I was driving home, and as I drove past an oil/lube retail store I was reminded again. But of course, I had left the coupon at home. I stopped anyway and had the oil changed, but this was not the same oil/lube brand that had sent me the coupon.

So let's review what happened here. Brand A had a coupon designed, printed and mailed to my mailbox. That action reminded me that I needed an oil change. But because I left the coupon at home, I stopped in at Brand B (convenient location) for my purchase. Brand A actually paid money which ultimately encouraged me to shop at Brand B.

This wouldn't happen if the coupon was mobile. People don't go out without their phones. Had the coupon been on my phone, I would have been reminded when I saw Brand B's store that I needed to get the oil changed. But I would have driven out of my way to go to Brand A's store because the coupon would have been on my person.

Consumer Preference

Because of the opt-in and opt-out nature of mobile distribution, consumers will only get the coupons that they want. This means that they will actually look forward to receiving the coupons from their favourite brands. So if mobile is better for consumers because they can choose what they want, and choose not to receive messages that they don't want, what does that mean for marketers?

It means that marketers will only pay to deliver mobile messages to consumers who actually want them. This is why we see redemption rates for mobile coupons in the 20-50% range, as opposed to the 0.5 - 1% of printed coupons.

Green Marketing

Canadians redeem 100 million mobile coupons annually. Given the average redemption rates of printed coupons, that means there are probably upwards of 10 billion coupons printed and distributed. That is a lot of paper, ink, and shipping, generating significant environmental impact.

Even without the other benefits, brands can demonstrate that they are earth-friendly by offering mobile coupons.

What does it all mean?

Mobile coupons won't just grow, they will explode onto the marketing scene in Canada over the next 18 months. Brands should be growing their lists now, so that, as consumers come to discover mobile as a value-driven communication tool, they will already be thinking about those brands who have made mobile contact with them. Brands who don't recognize this will miss out, and their competitor will win those consumers.

Read the full article on Mobile Coupons by Danish company More Mobile Relations here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Selling Mobile

The process of selling mobile is often challenging.

I'm absolutely confident that mobile will become a significant part of the overall marketing mix, and it will happen very fast. However, getting that message across to potential clients is sometimes difficult.

Several times I've pitched to a junior or intermediate member of a corporate marketing department. These folks are usually interested, but then share with me their challenges of selling the concept to a board of directors who are in their 70s, and have never sent or received a text message in their life.

Most advertising agencies I've pitched to were keen. But they face their own challenges selling the concept to their clients. Agencies also have to be cautious spending their clients money on untried concepts.

One media director that I met was seriously negative on mobile. He said it might work, one day, in the distant future. In the meantime he was content to just wait and see. Certainly not the type of forward thinking that I would expect from an agency media director.

So what does it take to convince these folks? Or to help them convince their clients? My answer to that is a simple demonstration. Anybody offering bulk text services can configure their system for demonstrations. Imagine this situation: you're in a corporate board room, trying to explain how big mobile will become in the next 18 months. You ask all people to get their phones out of their pockets and text DEMO to whatever shortcode you are using. They all instantly get your previously-prepared, customized return message in their text in-boxes.

If they don't have phones, or don't have text messaging, then do the demo on your own phone. Or better yet, let them do the demo on your phone.

Nothing sells better than a little hands-on demonstration. It works for me. Let me know if it works for you.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Doritos Guru

I love good marketing. And one of my guilty pleasures has long been Doritos. So what do you get when you put them together? The Doritos Guru campaign.

One of my 10 rules of marketing (the book will be published sometime after I retire) says that the best way to get consumer involvement in a brand it to get the consumer to invest in it. Some really smart marketing people at Doritos also understand this.

The recent Doritos Guru campaign starts at the store level, where, in amongst the packages of Original, Cool Ranch, and Sweet Chili Heat you will see this package:

So what is it? It's an unnamed new Doritos flavour. And the idea is that consumers can enter a contest to name the new flavour, and submit a 30 sec television spot. The winner gets $25,000 plus 1% of all future sales - good deal!

At the Doritos Guru website you can view and vote on all the submissions. Fantastic consumer-investment. Speaks really well to the target demographic. Terrific PR opportunities. It's one of those campaigns that makes me think to myself - wow I wish I'd thought of that.

What does this have to do with mobile? Well not much, except I took the photo of the Doritos in my kitchen with my Blackberry Storm, and then uploaded it to Facebook so I could save it on my desktop for use in this posting. So there!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mobile: Not Just for Impressions

Is mobile just another way to develop impressions for your brand?

The answer is no. Discussion in an excellent article by Gary Schwartz of
Impact Mobile can be read here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Green Beer and Mobile Marketing

Yesterday was St Patty's Day. Famous for green beer.

I had a plan to go out with some friends for green beer. Close to where I live, there are three different establishments to choose from, and we hadn't decided which one. Of course, life often gets in the way, and sometime around 9:30 pm I noticed that it was getting late and we hadn't gone out yet. And since I'm no longer in my early 20s, I was starting to get tired.

I would have been happy to go out, and I was just as happy not to. In the end, we didn't. But it struck me that my decision to actually go out, or not, was really close. Perhaps something could have tipped our decision. What could the owner of any of the 3 local pubs have done to encourage me to go out? Or if I had already decided to go, help me to decide which pub to go to.

The answer is easy. They could have sent me a text message earlier in the evening with some sort of special offer. Probably, even just a green-beer-special would have done the trick. I wonder how many others were like me, right on the tipping point of making a decision, and then ultimately deciding not to go out. I wonder how many of those consumers would have changed their decision with one little encouraging mobile message.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sibling Rivalry?

My very smart sister commented on one of my posts below (Location-based Mobile) with some intelligent questions. Rather than answer as another comment, I have made it into a new blog post for everybody to read.

Wendy said:

The idea that my mobile phone would suddenly introduce me to a potential eligible bachelor while I'm gormlessly standing in the coffee queue (and his mobile meanwhile is introducing me to him) is excruciating...(oh, and who in their right mind would shop for JEANS of all things on an early date?)

You mention that you have complete control over your bluetooth settings, but that might mean you can't necessarily control who from the dating agency can spontaneously spot you... I mean you might specify that you don't wish to be located, but a pirate dating agency might ignore that...and I'd end up getting stalked by some weirdo...

So my question is how will and should these new marketing abilities be regulated, and by whom?

My response:

All good points.

To address the last one first; in Canada, large-scale text messaging is regulated by the Canadian Wireless Telecom Association. A company needs to apply to the CWTA for a shortcode. The process, which takes 6-8 weeks, includes written descriptions about intended use. Any misuse will result in withdrawal of shortcode, and of subsequent messaging from that shortcode. And the cost for shortcode application, plus integrating the shortcode and associated keywords into the systems of my company currently stands around $5000.

So it's not like email. Anyone with a computer and an internet hookup can send out bulk spam emails as much as they like. Clearly this is not the case with text.

As for your own personal controls, systems have not yet been developed. Most of what I have posted here has been a crystal ball exercise, looking into the near future. Generally speaking, people will have complete control over their mobile content - which is what will make mobile such a valuable tool for marketers AND for consumers. The logistics and associated systems to enable people to have that control will be developed over time. Those systems will very likely be web-based, where you sign in with a personal identification and then select your preferences. So in my sister's case, she wouldn't be interested in text-message notification when a eligible bachelor is in her near vicinity, so she wouldn't opt for the option of receiving that notification. However, she could opt to receive messages only from men who are 6' or taller, or only from men who have no tattoos. Or men who are 6' or taller, AND who have no tattoos. The options for preferences are nearly endless.

As for a nefarious dating agency that ignores consumer wishes not to receive messages - this is highly unlikely for several reasons. First, as someone who chooses not to receive proximity-based notifications, she probably wouldn't even supply her mobile number. That aside, a dating agency that sent unsolicited messages would very quickly earn a bad reputation amongst consumers and wouldn't be successful. Plus it could face losing its shortcode from the CTWA.

When a text message is sent, somebody has to pay. In this case, it might be the Wendy it might be the potential bachelor, or it might be a 3rd party that also supplies an advertising message that the consumer agrees to receive. The model will probably be tested several ways by several companies, and the winning format will eventually emerge. But whether it's Wendy, the potential bachelor or a 3rd party that pays, nobody will be willing to pay to have an unwanted message delivered.

Of course, that dating agency, when sending proximity notifications of potential suitors, would never share the mobile numbers of those two people with each other. Consumers simply wouldn't participate in that. Notifications would likely include basic profile information (first name, age, profession, interests, etc) and an attached image of the person.

As for shopping for jeans on a first date; ok point taken. Perhaps instead they receive bluetooth coupons for 10% off ice-cream cones as they walk by the ice-cream store.

I think consumer control over their own mobile content is what makes mobile such a powerful tool. Consumers only receive the information that they want. Marketers are able to engage consumers who are actively seeking interaction with that brand. It's a win-win situation.

(Wendy - what the heck does 'gormlessly' mean?)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sixth Sense

I recently saw this amazing video on youtube. It showcases a potential future product from the labs at MIT that could revolutionize mobile information sourcing. It's actually difficult to explain - just go watch it. And just imagine the possibilities when it comes to incorporating mobile marketing activities into this system.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mobile - is it just a new media?

Yes. And no. Well, sort of.

Advertising agencies for years have been booking and selling media space to clients, usually for a percentage of the spend. Traditional medias include TV, radio, print and outdoor.

So is mobile just another media? Can agencies buy the space, create a message to put into it, and sell it to their clients?

Short answer: yes. Longer answer: they shouldn't.

There are a few companies out there that are providing mobile-as-media space. They usually offer something free to the consumers - horoscope, joke-of-the-day, etc. As part of the agreement, the consumer also agrees to provide some basic demographic information, and agrees to accept a certain level of text-based advertising. Over time, I expect there will be a few more of these companies springing up.

But there's a problem with this model. It's outdated. It's based on the television advertising model; provide something for free, and the consumer will tolerate the accompanying advertising message.

Often when a new media appears, the models from the old media are applied to the new one. This happened in the 90s when banner advertising became all the rage on the internet - something adopted from print ads. Nowadays, we hardly see any banners online as the internet has evolved into it's own communication tool.

Mobile is not just a new media, it's a whole new way to communicate. So what will be the model going forward for marketers to use mobile?

First, we have to consider the consumers. Here in Canada, where mobile is less developed than other places, we are limited to the 136 characters of a text message. Sure, technology exists to develop mobile-enhanced websites, WAP sites, iPhone applications and all sorts of other activities, but for the most part, mainstream consumers are not yet ready for those things. So text messaging is primarily where it's at.

Next, we need to consider what consumers think about their phones. For most, it is a vital communication tool, primarily used to connect with friends and family. Brands who are early adopters of text-message marketing can enjoy the benefit of being as close to their consumers as their friends and family are. Over time, that benefit will be reduced as mobile marketing becomes more mainstream, but it will never go away completely.

Finally, we have to understand the benefits of mobile. It is estimated that 94% of text messages are opened immediately. Compare that statistic to direct mail, or even email. Mobile devices are always on, always carried, and always at the point of sale. All this without even counting the future potential of GPS or Bluetooth-activated proximity applications.

So where does this lead us? If mobile isn't just another media space, what is it? How do marketers best take advantage of it?

I suggest to all my clients that mobile offers brands the opportunity to ask consumers to 'hold up their hands' if they are interested in more information about that brand. Once those consumers have identified themselves, they need to be offered value-driven, engaging and most especially, relevant information. Done right, this will enhance the consumers relationship with that brand.

So the new model is to cultivate and develop fans-of-your-brand over time, and providing them with valuable information that they want. This will be much more effective than the old model of pairing your message with free content, forcing them to tolerate your mobile ad while getting some other information that they want.

The old model doesn't fit the new. For this reason, mobile is not just another media space.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


I decided it was time to experience Twitter. So I've signed up. And if you want to receive Tweets whenever I update the blog, sign up. Look me up - my ID is 3rdscreenmarket.

Location-based Mobile

You’re standing at the bus stop, wondering how long until your bus arrives. Your bus stop has a stop number, which you text to the local transit company shortcode. You receive a reply text immediately, which tells you that your bus won’t be there for another 25 minutes. Attached to that message is a coupon for 20% off any size coffee at the Starbucks right behind you.

So now you’re at Starbucks, enjoying a coffee and newspaper. You get another text message. This one is from a dating service that you signed up for yesterday. It informs you that, somewhere in the near vicinity is a tall brunette who fits your profile. Her name is Misha. She is 5’9”, an articling law student, and likes dogs. Attached to the message is an image, which you open. It’s a picture of her.

You also know that she got a text message with your profile information at exactly the same time. So you look up and there she is, looking at her phone while waiting for her grande latte. She grabs her drink, looks around and spots you, and comes over to your table. Now you’re wondering if you are going to miss the bus.

Sounds crazy? It’s not. Location based mobile activity is already in action in other parts of the world. It won’t be that far behind here in Canada.

Some smart phones have GPS locaters built into them. But almost any basic phone can be located by triangulation service - based on the distance from 3 or more local cellular site towers.

Bluetooth offers another possibility. You and your new lady-friend are now enjoying a walk in the shopping district. As you go past The Gap, your phone receives a bluetooth signal from transmitters in the store. A message on your phone includes a coupon for 25% off all jeans.

Later, both sporting some new Gap jeans, you continue your walk.

Of course, you have complete control over your bluetooth settings, so you can decide what kind of (or if any) proximity-based messages to receive.

These are the kinds of things that are coming. And they’re coming fast. Marketing departments and advertising agencies better sit up and take notice. Brands that achieve direct mobile engagement with their consumer are going to have a competitive advantage.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Apologies to TSN

This is my first published retraction. A few posts below I chastised TSN for not having a text notification system. In fact, they do.

I was at the TSN site last night looking for NHL trade deadline information. I happened to notice that they do indeed have a text-alert service, and it's pretty much what I described in my previous post. Plus it's no cost for the sports fan.

I signed up for NHL hockey and F1 racing alerts. This morning, a text message alerted me to the fact that the New York Rangers had (foolishly?) picked up Sean Avery off waivers. I'm certain that I found out before any of my hockey friends.

Good job, TSN.

Delta Airlines offers Mobile Check-In

Actually, Delta is not the first. Continental announced their mobile check-in system some months ago. Other airlines may also offer this.

But Mobile Marketer Daily has announced today that Delta Airlines has partnered with the Transportation Security Administration to allow mobile check-in at several of their major hub airports.

I was a fairly frequent flyer during the last half of 2008, as I was splitting my time between Vancouver and Calgary. One logistical challenge that I faced is the fact that, like many people, I don't actually have a functional printer at my house. So printing off airline e-tickets proved to be sometimes challenging.

So how does this mobile version work?

On the day of your flight, you download the boarding pass to your mobile device by accessing their mobile-enhanced website. The pass includes a 2 dimensional bar code that has your passenger and flight info encoded into it (see image).

At security, barcode scanners can read this information off the screen of your phone. Then again at the boarding point, barcode scanners read it.

This allows consumers to download their boarding pass at a time convenient for them, plus saves time standing in linup to check in. Furthermore, it generates one less piece of paper.

Airlines are struggling in todays economy, and this represents a way they can save costs while also providing a more convenient service for the consumer. We have seen other examples of airlines using mobile; Emirates airlines uses text message to contact passengers whose flight has been delayed - often before the passengers have even left their home for the airport.

In 24 months from now, we'll be wondering how we got by without all the uses of mobile. Some of those uses we haven't even thought of yet.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

So what is the 3rd screen?

I've received a few queries in the past couple days asking about the reference to the 3rd screen.

If television was the first, and the internet was the 2nd, mobile is the 3rd mass media screen.

The 3rd screen is the first ever personal mass media. It is also the first that:

  • is always on
  • is always with the consumer
  • is always at the point of purchase

Most importantly, it is the media where consumers can most effectively raise a hand and identify themselves as fans of a brand.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mobile Marketing - Who Pays?

What a missed opportunity.

Like a lot of Canadians, I'm a hockey fan. Specifically, I'm a Canucks fan. Now that I live in Calgary, I'm starved for Canucks broadcasts, news and updates. Specifically at this time of year, I'd like to know about all the trades as the team gears up for the playoffs before the March 4th trade deadline.

So I started looking around to see if I could receive text message alerts when the team made a trade.

I went to the Vancouver Canucks website. Buried deep in the website I found the Canucks Mobile page, and learned that the Canucks do have a text-alert system. But it is all inclusive of live game alerts, goals scored etc. Now I don't get to watch too many Canucks games in Calgary, but when I do I usually record them on the PVR and watch them the next day; I don't want live updates of the game stats. So maybe lots of other people may want that service, but here's the worst part - they charge 15c per message to the consumer.

Let me get this straight. I'm a fan, I support your brand (even in this Flame-ridden Calgary market), I want to stay up to date with information about your brand, and you are going to charge me?

Forget that!
(If you happen to work in the Canucks marketing department, this is the time to call me for a discussion about text-message branding and costing models.)

Next stop was the TSN website. Maybe they could keep me updated about trade-deadline activity. Except I couldn't find anything.

How about Sportsnet? Ok yes, they do have a text reminder service. It's completely buried in their website and very difficult to find, but it's there. Specifically, I can subscribe to my favourite team (Canucks) and Sportsnet will keep me up to date with the latest team news.

Then I read the details. They're suggesting it will be 15-20 messages per week. Plus, they're going to charge me 25c each message.

Attention Sportsnet marketing department: Your entire branding goal is to be the authority on all things sports in Canada, especially hockey. And if it isn't, it should be. Here's a chance to confirm to me, a consumer of your brand, that you are indeed the authority on my favourite pro sports team. Don't charge me $5 per week to do this.
(Sportsnet marketing people - same message as per the Canucks above.)

First off, almost nobody needs 15-20 messages per week from thier brand of choice. For most brands, 4-6 messages per month is best. It is possible that in some sitations, some consumers (and this does include hockey fans) may want more than that. If it were me, I would let the consumer decide how many. Imagine that you sign up to receive text messages and you get a webpage with a list, each item with a checkbox next to it.
  • live game reports (every goal, as they happen)
  • live game reports (every penalty, as they happen)
  • period summary reports (once after each period)
  • post game summary reports (once after each game)
  • player trade reports (as they happen)
  • special event reminders (approx once per month)
  • contests/promotions (approx once per week)

If the Canucks offered the above options, the consumer could customize their brand interaction frequency to their liking. A simple user profile would allow them to come back and change their preferences at any time. This is really a no brainer.

Next, don't charge me money. So far in Canada, wireless networks do not charge for incoming text messages. For marketers, this is an ideal situation. There's no reason for your brand to charge them either.

The Canucks or Sportsnet (or TSN for that matter) could achieve much better traction with their consumer by providing this for free. Yes, it would cost them some money. But we're talking pennies a message to entrench their brand into the primary personal communication device of their consumer.

I know what you're thinking. If the mobile marketing model for consumer-pays is, for the most part, going to go by the wayside, are brands required to cough up the cash to keep themselves close to their consumer?

The short answer is yes.

The long answer is that they already do this, and pay very large amounts of money. Brands utilize television, outdoor, print, online and all kinds of other expensive methods. Many of them send us junk mail, which often goes from our mailbox straight to the round-file.

Let's compare to the cost of design, printing and postage to blanket everybody in a postal code, in the hopes that a certain percentage of consumers will be interested in your message. Clearly, mobile can offer a much more immediate, direct and targeted message for pennies a piece. And it can deliver that message to consumers who actually raise their hand and ask to be kept up to date with your brand. No wasted costs on consumers who aren't interested in your brand. This begins to sound a bit like a marketers dream.

So in the case of the NHL trade deadline, I'd still like to find somebody who would keep me updated. The Canucks and Sportsnet are both missing the boat.
(TSN marketing people - are you listening?)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Is Mobile Marketing the new Spam?

Absolutely not. At least, not yet.

A long time ago (way back in the 90s) when email marketing began, marketers were told that they now had direct and interactive access to consumers in an environment where consumer-preference and technology would come together to create strong brand-to-consumer bonds.

Did it happen? No.

Email marketing shot itself in the foot with spam. Consumers grew quickly tired of looking at their inbox and reading about enhancing their man-ness.

Now at the dawn of mobile marketing, will mobile marketers learn from that important lesson? It appears so, at least in North America. The Mobile Marketing Association has a well developed
Code of Conduct that, if followed, will prevent mobile from falling into the same pitfalls as email.

AT&T was recently outed for sending unsolicited text messages to previous American Idol voters. This received significant publicity in the US and set the stage for a healthy public debate.

Mobile has the opportunity to create the strong brand-to-consumer bonds that were promised of email. As long as marketers never spam consumers, only message opt-in consumers, and always offer an easy unsubscribe option. Further than that, mobile marketers must offer relevant, engaging and value-driven communications. If these basic guidelines are followed, the future looks good for mobile marketing.

Crystal Ball

May as well start this off with a bang. So I'm sticking my neck out and making some bold predictions about the world of mobile.

Will see double the mobile traffic of 2008. In fact, mobile traffic will double every year until at least 2013 when traffic will be 60-70 times as much as 2008.

Smartphones will respresent 90% of all phones purchased.

You will purchase a can of coke from a bluetooth enabled vending machine with your mobile phone.

50% of coupons redeemed will be paperless - delivered and redeemed via mobile phone.

There will be 500 million mobile TV subscribers.

Your phone will be your credit card, your AirMiles card, your gas card, your health card and your library card. Plus it will occasionally be a phone.


My first blog. My first post. What I am planning is a discussion of all things related to mobile marketing. Please feel free to comment, or to contact me directly.