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Direct Response Marketing

Hello, Mobile!

1 Feb, 2009 By: Response Contributor Response

In the continuing move toward 'response-measured' media, smart phone data consumption drives hyper-local direct response strategies. But, will mobile marketing live up to be the 'next big thing'?


It's a familiar scenario to any business traveler: You're in an unknown suburb of an unfamiliar city and your meeting ran late. With less than an hour until takeoff, you scramble to find a taxi back to the airport. For a fee, you dial information, call a local cab company, describe your location and wait for the ride.



If you own a smart phone with Internet, such as Apple's iPhone 3G, BlackBerry's Storm or T-Mobile's G1 with Google, this scenario plays out differently. The built-in GPS identifies your whereabouts, you quickly perform a mobile search for local cab services and, with a tap, you dial and connect.

If you have an iPhone, you might also use Hey Taxi, a 99-cent application downloaded from Apple's iTunes. Based on your GPS location, or one that you enter, Hey Taxi finds the three nearest cab services, plots them on a detailed map and rates their average response time on a scale from one to five. You select the nearest or speediest service, call to make the reservation and tap Hey Taxi when it arrives.

This is just one example of many modern conveniences and mobile marketing pathways made possible with the advent of smart phones and smart phone applications.

Is It Here Yet?

For nearly a decade, mobile's heyday has been close enough in the foreground to know it was coming, but too far away to know when. Early adopters segmented mobile opportunities into four channels: CPM or cost-per-click banner ads created specifically for mobile Internet or (WAP); SMS (short message service) or MMS (multimedia message service); ads dubbed into free mobile video as pre- or post-roll; and downloadable mobile applications.

During the past year, Response featured a number of success stories. From Subway's regional SMS campaign MySubwayMobile (March 2008) to new interactive mobile features from Nokia (July 2008), some of which were utilized successfully by Hyundai (September 2008).

However, according to Michael Boland, senior analyst at The Kelsey Group, a Princeton, N.J.-based research firm, the industry needs at least one more year to mature. Mobile ad sales will likely remain flat in 2009 due to the industry's experimental nature and the weak economy, but the evolution of mobile technology and mainstream adoption will continue to grow exponentially.

comScore estimates that the number of U.S. mobile phone users who browsed the Internet spiked 43 percent, from 30.7 million to 44 million, between June 2007 and June 2008. Compared to the same period the previous year, before iPhone's debut, cell phone browsing increased 5 percent, from 29.2 million to 30.7 million users.

"It could begin to take tangible form in 2010 as the economy improves, as mobile technologies continue to improve and as mobile local usage and data consumption continue to increase," says Boland. "All of the above will drive advertiser interest and adoption. The leading indicators for all of these factors are happening all around us and anyone interested in staking a claim at this opportunity needs lead time to gather intelligence and begin developing products, establish branding and build consumer usage and traction."

Hey Taxi, a 99-cent application that can be downloaded to an iPhone, uses GPS location to find the three nearest cab services.
Hey Taxi, a 99-cent application that can be downloaded to an iPhone, uses GPS location to find the three nearest cab services.

Mobile applications, simply known as apps, are the latest phenomenon. Web-based apps gained notoriety in May 2007 when social networking site Facebook opened its application platform to third-party developers. But it wasn't until July 2008, when Apple launched iPhone 3G and App Store, that mobile apps became one of the most accessible and popular avenues to brand a business and popularize its services.

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