CTIA IT: Bad economy gives mobile marketing a boost

Oct 9, 2009 2:15 PM, By Sarah Reedy

Mobile marketing vendors are achieving growth as brands reevaluate their ad campaigns with a focus on mobile

SAN DIEGO, CALIF. – Mobile is coming out ahead as brands reevaluate their advertising budgets. The mobile telephony logoadvertising and marketing market has been a long time in the making, but vendors at the CTIA IT & Entertainment show say it is making progress – thanks in large part to the bad economy. The recession has helped make a case for mobile as brands move away from generic campaigns to more personalized, relevant marketing tactics.

According to the Mobile Marketing Association, no company spent more than $200,000 to advertise on mobile last year, but that has quickly begun to change. As of March, Land Rover and Jaguar became the first to invest in multimillion dollar mobile campaigns and many other brands are following in the car makers\’ footsteps and exploring new forms of mobile interaction.

\”The majority of campaigns run in messaging today,\” said Kristine van Dillen, director of industry initiatives and partnerships at the MMA. \”Messaging is where brands are spending most of their money then banner ads then applications.\”

There is lots of interest in applications, created by the iPhone, van Dillen said. The distribution has become easier as has discoverability with new storefronts popping up. In-apps are still a challenged form of mobile marketing, however, as fragmentation and unsteady business case affect the industry. Ads within apps aren\’t always the best experience too, David Ko, senior vice president of Yahoo Mobile, acknowledged in a CTIA Keynote address. They often open the browser and kick a user out of the app they were using. As part of its expanding mobile strategy, Ko said that Yahoo is taking advantage of HTML and its relationships with advertisers to integrate ads into the apps in as seamless and unobtrusive a way as possible.

While developers are still working out the kinks with app ads, search and SMS are two areas that continue to grow. Google this week expanded its mobile search platform, AdSense, enabling it on a slew of new handsets, including the iPhone, Android and Palm webOS phones. According to Google, the goal is to enable mobile publishers to earn money and fund more web content and mobile-specific sites.

Multiple vendors are banking on SMS messaging campaigns, one of the first iterations of mobile marketing, as well. The size of the market in the US will grow from $718 million in 2009 to $2.2 billion in 2010, according to Juniper Research. Mobile ad vendor OpenMarket responded to that opportunity with the launch of its SMS-Advertising service this week. The service connects text content providers with a host of targeted ads to embed in their messages.

VeriSign also announced this week that its Messaging and Mobile Media division is teaming up with iLoop mobile to provide an SMS marketing solution directed at enterprises. It already includes HP as a customer using the integrated platform to power mobile marketing campaigns to its 80 million Snapfish users. iLoop Mobile and VeriSign are targeting enterprises of all sizes, as well as advertising and direct marketing agencies, media, entertainment, professional sports and Web entities.

Another vendor, mobileStorm, now in its tenth year of business, got its start in SMS campaigns for the music industry. The company has since moved away from music to focus on a marketing and email campaigns for a host of customers, ranging from Overstock.com to retail stores to Kaiser Permanente. CEO Jared Reitzin said the mobile concept has taken on like wildfire in a lot of industries, while others are still approaching it with caution. mobileStorm does three-month pilot programs with these customers to help them shape their mobile strategy, and Reitzin said there is always an education element in the process. Even so, the company has seen consistent growth in the last year as brands that may be scaling back their overall ad budget move away from standard blast marketing campaigns and towards digital marketing for the targeting and real-time reporting it can provide.

\”Traditional media is down so much that brands want something new,\” added Lee Durham, CEO of Local Solutions Network (LSN). \”There\’s a groundswell; it just makes sense.\” LSN provides localized content and ads to its brands and partners with all the major carriers to have their content syndicated on mobile. Durham said the company is working with the carriers on adding location to advertisements, but is still in the discussion phase right now.

There are still challenges in the mobile marketing, including the lack of a strong method of tracking mobile ad metrics, but van Dillen said the MMA is tacking this with a two-pronged approach that looks at both ad measurement and industry metrics.

\”We have all these mobile marketing channels we are looking at, and different brands care about different metrics,\” van Dillen said. \”It goes so much further than just an impression. We are working with the [Media Rating Council] to establish the global market guidelines, which will be published mid-next year.\”

The guidelines will have a baseline requirements for how to measure basic elements in mobile, including banner ads and click-throughs, as well as technical details on how to measure impressions. Some issues the MMA is tackling include whether impressions should be measured on the client or server side, when a message is sent, delivered or read, and how to best capture and report engagement.