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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'?

Mobile Loves Metrics

DR is built upon three tenets: a product must serve an immediate need and solve a common problem; it must be highly demonstrable and hook the consumer with novelty or originality; and it must be supported by a low-cost, high-yield and meticulously-measured media buying strategy.

Mobile marketing follows all of these patterns. Dinesh Moorjani, group vice president, mobile marketing at West Hollywood, Calif.-based IAC, keeps the following five items in mind when launching mobile initiatives:

1. Measurable ROI. Expected conversion based on click-through (CPM or CPC campaign) to registration to purchase/transaction. Did it yield a positive investment?

2. Target Market Segment. Did the campaign address the target demo or psychographic segment?

3. Timing. Did the campaign launch and complete when it would attract the most users or desired engagement?

4. Learning. Are there any insights that can be drawn from the campaign, such as behavior market data?

5. Experimentation. How do we tweak the next campaign based on the successes and failures of this one?

The values of traditional DR are at the core of mobile media's most exciting developments, namely in the local space.

One of the most popular iPhone applications is an interactive restaurant locator called UrbanSpoon, which allows users to lock in preferences, such as cuisine or neighborhood, and shake their phone. The app whirls like a slot machine and clanks out a restaurant listing from the directory, including user reviews, photos, menu and directions.

Local city guide sites Citysearch and Yelp also introduced free mobile apps to further engage users with online content, local merchants and social networking features. In November 2008, Citysearch integrated Facebook Connect, an open platform that enables Citysearch members to publish user reviews directly to their Facebook profile and also integrate their community of friends on Facebook with their Citysearch member profile.

"The way this usage is starting to play out for example is indicative of the types of content delivery and ad models that could resonate in mobile search," says Boland. "Mobile and local are very closely related. A great deal of the innovation and application level development coming soon are local search apps. Since the phone is closer to the point of conversion, and it's a phone, there are opportunities to measure calls and conversions— think mobile coupons and product inventory search, which we're already starting to see from iPhone apps such as TheFind."

TheFind is another iTunes app, released in October 2008 and powered by, a shopping search engine. It sifts through more than 250 million products to locate the right item at the closest location and for the best bargain. It also maps directions to the store and even calculates the cost of driving there.

Hyper-Local Targeting

DialPlus, a San Diego, Calif.-based mobile software company is tapping into this goldmine of information by pairing a mobile phone call with rich Web content. Its free application allows users to see information about the person (photos or Facebook status updates) or business (hours, map and directions) before, during and after the call.

DialPlus will announce its first commercial partnership with a tier-1 U.S. carrier by end of first-quarter 2009, and it already received an industry nod by winning the Smaato Mobile Advertising Award for 2008. "Phones have become powerful small computers," says Hutch Morton, vice president of sales and marketing. "One thing that hasn't changed with the new data services is a voice call, and that is what we've set out to change."

When a user makes a phone call, the DialPlus application performs a search for online content then automatically presents bits and pieces of relevant information from a variety of sources.

If a user called STK, a popular steakhouse in Los Angeles, DialPlus would search through a hierarchy of business directories such as Citysearch, Yelp and Zagat. If the user is a registered member on one of those sites, DialPlus customizes its results accordingly. Calls to friends work the same way, except the service pulls information from social networking sites, such as LinkedIn or Facebook.

"On the social networking side of things there are a lot of consumer privacy issues that we need to be acutely aware of," says Morton. "Anything that you could see online — whether you are or aren't a friend — we translate that same level of privacy to mobile."

CPM ads served up on Smart Results are always relevant to the business a user is calling and targeted to that caller — a Pizza Hut banner ad could appear on a call to Domino's, for example. It's an added value to the consumer, but if an advertiser wants to keep competitors off their listing, they can sign up as a DialPlus merchant and "claim their page."

"Over time DialPlus wants to give local merchants the ability to author and publish the content of their own Smart Results page," says Morton. "This would include the informational fields as well as the ability to advertise specials and customize messages to different target audiences."

"The mobile advertising ecosystem has been maturing for three to four years, and this year you'll see bigger advertising plans including dedicated mobile spends that go beyond trial budgets," he adds.

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