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.