As I leave the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas, it is apparent that we who evangelize the opportunities of mobile marketing will not be proclaiming 2010 as ‘The Year of Mobile.’ No, that designation must certainly be given to the current calendar…2009 is, indeed, THE Year of Mobile.
This was outstandingly evident in the conversations within the gaming industry, as major commercial casino enterprises, regional properties and Native American gaming have all begun embracing mobile opportunities. Promotional and equipment vendors were using SMS to interact with attendees. Updates on events surrounding the convention were sent to us, as we moved about the venue. Mobile was conspicuous in many forms. And questions were not “Will mobile work as an effective tool to bring in players,” but more “How can we make it work for our casino?”
Other recent events offer proof that the world of mobile marketing has taken huge leaps forward, even in the midst of the economic meltdown. Just last week, AdMob, the mobile banner network, was purchased by Google for $750 million. As a result, Millennial Media was able to raise $16 million in new capital, which may have seemed a stretch just days earlier.
The adoption of mobile as a marketing tool has accelerated faster than any technology we have experienced…EVER! The chant that ‘Mobile is the future, and always will be’ can now be laid to rest. Today, there exists no wall, no barrier to brands and organizations delivering their message to their most valuable customer.
Yet, the words of Patrick Moorhead, director of emerging media at Razorfish, commenting on the recent acquisition of AdMob by Google ring out, “Brands are the only people who aren’t playing effectively in the mobile space, and this is a wake-up call to clients who says mobile is not a real opportunity, because it is. Google doesn’t get involved in anything it doesn’t think has scale.”
Thus, our roles as evangelizers must now be that of navigators in this newest of media. It is now our charge to guide clients to properly utilize the tools we have developed. We have the technology, we can rebuild marketing. We can make it better, we can make it stronger, we can make it faster! Plagiarized, yes (from the opening of The Six Million Dollar Man TV show, for those readers too young to know)…but that is our charge…that MUST be our new mantra!
The tools are now in the hands of brands to literally reach into the pockets of customers, wherever they are, whenever they see an opportunity! It is not the shotgun approach of mass media, but the pinpoint accuracy of delivering relevant content to each unique customer, giving value in exchange for permission to that most private channel of communication.
The drive to keep mobile BETTER must be constantly on our minds, lest we succumb to the demons that reared their ugly heads in the form of pop-ups, spam, misleading redirects that burden the interactive space. This most personal of all media will only grant access to those that supply relevant content. The precious real estate of the mobile device will not be given to just any snake oil vendor.
The stakes are high, and the user controls the space. One false move and the relationship with the brand will be over with a simple tapping of STOP or END.
It strikes me as well, that last week marked 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, just about the time I got my first ‘cellular’ phone…really, a brick with a handset and antenna attached. No caller ID, no voice mail, certainly no SMS or web browsing capabilities. And what of the other technologies of that time? Well, an IBM Internet mail system powered interoffice communications, but no links to the world outside of the company. Most people thought Prodigy Mall was the entire Internet. And believe it or not, we didn’t even have debit cards yet! Change has come.
Today, marketers have the opportunity to offer me merchandise and services, based on real knowledge of my purchase and lifestyle habits. Not the perceived idea that as a 46 year old male, I must be interested in improving my performance in the bedroom. Rather, real information, knowing that I purchased a jacket last month and may be interested in a great deal on matching slacks. And they can give me the ease of one-click purchase, right from my mobile device, because my size is connected to my customer account. Yes, stronger…MUCH STRONGER than any other channel of marketing.
In talking with a client a few weeks back, the comment was made that the appeal of mobile was the immediacy and accuracy that it offered. For them, email just wasn’t fast enough anymore. And in a family setting, with shared email accounts, it wasn’t targeted enough. They had hit a wall in their strategy.
Yes, a marketer can put an offer in the hands of customers in just mere minutes. It doesn’t require the intervention on an IT department or ad agency. A few keystrokes and the casino’s most valuable players can be alerted to VIP seats at an event this weekend. A shoe store can let a select group of customers know about a fabulous sale for members only…who will, of course, tell all of their friends about the great deals to be found. Faster…so MUCH FASTER than ever before!
Faster, too, must be the speed with which brands enter the market. While we, as consumers, tolerate and continue to sign up for, offers delivered to our inbox, the same will not be true of mobile. This personal connection will only be offered to a few deserving brands. If that relationship is not created now, it will certainly be more difficult in the very near future. Marketers will have to go even further with more lucrative offers to gain attention and move a competing brand off the real estate of a device. FASTER…as in no time like the present!
BETTER, STRONGER, FASTER! That is what brands need from the navigators, those of us in the role of mobile technology vendors and consultants – better strategy, stronger partnerships, faster delivery. That is how they need to communicate with their customers – better content targeting, stronger relationships, and faster response. And we have the technology!
BETTER – STRONGER – FASTER! Whether we are vendors in the mobile technology space, brands and organizations offering products and services, or marketing consultants and advertising agencies that support their efforts, this must be our mantra.
And while this is ‘THE Year of Mobile,’ it is not the end. A few brave navigators must continue to sally forward into uncharted waters, developing new tools, exciting uses and opportunities. What will the future hold for those taking up the charge? What will we find at Lands’ End, as we push the envelope? Ah, that is a topic for another day.