This blog has had a lot of focus on smartphones and Nokia recently (for many reasons) but mobile is much bigger than the handsets side, and smartphones only formed a third of all new phones sold towards the end of last year. Today I want to talk about mobile services, and focus on the media side - and a very exciting space in it, mobile advertising.
I do mobile marketing and advertising workshops and seminars all around the world. I was just with Sanoma Media and Telegraaf Media in Amsterdam a few months ago, was in Guatemala with Tigo for some mobile advertising workshops there, was with the MMA in Istanbul doing a series of mobile marketing workshops, did a series of keynotes at the Google Think Mobile event series here in Asia, and the keynote to SOCAP the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals ie the 'Customer Relationship Experts' at their big annual event in Orlando, and so forth. I've been speaking with MMA (Mobile Marketing Association) events from New York City to Singapore to Sao Paulo, and doing private workshops with many companies that specialize in the mobile advertising and marketing space from ad agencies and creative agencies to major brands etc. There was a nice video of me talking about mobile advertising at the Google event in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.
But its been a while I've shared with you my fave stories right now. So lets do a blog about where I see excellence in the best thinking of using the 9 Unique Abilities of mobile and going beyond simply lame copies of internet and TV and print advertising. Let me show you some of my fave stories in mAd.
AN ARMY OF FANATICS
I love Jonathan MacDonald's concept of nurturing and building an Army of Fanatics. How do you engage with fans? One great example comes from Sweden. Veronica Maggio is a Swedish pop star. She decided to reward her biggest fan with a peculiar treat - his number would be the target phone number to call, to hear the Ringback tone version of Veronica's newest hit song, 'Lordagen den Femtonde Mars' (Saturday the 15th of March). This is not a ringtone. This is a ringback tone. It means you have to call that phone number to listen to it. She made ringback the launch method of her song. Her fans could not hear the song anywhere else, not on radio, not on MTV video, not online, not any other way. The fan - his name is Firat Delen, an 18 year old boy in Sweden - had his phone ringing nonstop for two weeks as the fans of Veronica kept calling his number, to hear the song. When Veronica finally launched the song for sale, it hit number 1 on the Swedish charts. Cool. And by the way, many Swedes, who called his number, didn't know of ringback tones, so it also helped bring new users for Ringbacks in Sweden. But this is a cool way to do something different in music marketing. Not to mention a great treat to the fan club.
And talking of fans, lets hop to another side of the globe but stay with music, Japan. Seeda the rap artist launched his album as a virtual adventure across Japan. For every track on his album, Seeda selected one location, and narrated a story about why that location was relevant to that song. The fans were encouraged to tour Japan and go listen to Seeda's narration of his most relevant places in Japan, and in each place obviously they could hear one track from the album as well. Cool. His album? Hit number 1 in Japan. Now rap artist Jay-Z in New York did something similar with an adventure virtual treasure hunt to promote Jay-Z's book. For every page there was a treasure hidden somewhere in New York City.
A virtual treasure hunt is clever yes, but lets now take it supercharged, and let fans join on a virtual trip with their favorite brand. Honda motorcycles in Japan introduced K-Tra in 2008, the fan club experience where fans can create an avatar and then have the avatar take rides on real Honda motorcycles based on their real riding in Japan. Any owner of a Honda motorcycle can sign up to be a host to take one virtual hitch-hiker along. The movement is tracked based on the mobile phone of the rider, and when the motorbike stops moving, the hitchhiker is deposited into that spot, until another Honda motorbike rider comes by, and your avatar is once again on the move, having an adventure. You get an alert of course whenever your avatar is picked up, and then you can monitor its travels via a map on your phone. Cool. Actual fans and owners have of course then met up in the real world too, etc. How many? 20,000 Honda fans have taken rides of over 1.8 million kilometers (over 1.1 million miles) this way (according to Infinita 2011).
This merger of the real world and the virtual world is a very hot space for advanced mobile marketing campaigns. One that is spreading, from Japan, but is already here in Hong Kong and has reached Germany too, is the Augmented Reality (AR) virtual butterfly, called iButterfly. The real world doesn't have these butterflies and probably city environments are not very conducive for the life of butterflies, but they've created a huge virtual flock of butterflies that flutter about here in Hong Kong. You can only see them on smartphones that have the requried AR app installed, and then you can go hunt for them. Different butterflies in different parts of the city and country, and every time you capture a virtual butterfly, you get a coupon. In our case here in Hong Kong one of the first users was Pacific Coffee, by coincidence my fave coffee shop in town.
Another way to do the virtual hunt is the virtual explorer. North Face the outdoors brand ran a contest to 'Conquer China'. They had a blank China map visible in the stores and online and on mobile. Anyone could take their mobile phone, go to any location in China and if first to that location, 'claim it' for North Face, just like explorers claimed islands and mountains etc for their kings and lords. A red North Face flag was planted virtually to that location, and you were the person who virtually discovered it first. The map was then starting to populate with little red flags all over. Always the first to any location would be its owner, not like with FourSquare with whoever came there the most to become its mayor. And in a campaign of under three weeks, a total of 650,000 red flags were planted in China. Every flag also of course gave its heroic explorer a coupon for a discount at North Face. Does this kind of marketing work? Try doubling sales! Grew sales in fact by 106%. And it drove a lot of footfall to North Face's stores, helping fans find the stores.
And returning conveniently back to Sweden, yet another variant is the race to steal the virtual car. Mini ran a campaign in Stockholm, where they parked a virtual Mini in Stockholm. Then whoever got near enough to the Mini, would 'capture' it, or 'steal' it. Then the person would start to run away with it. Other fans could see on a map where the stolen Mini was, and whoever got near enough to the person holding the Mini, would then capture it. This race had big coverage in the Swedish media as Mini fanatics all around Stockholm were in this race to chase whoever held the Mini. The person who had the Mini at the end of the game? Won a real Mini car.
And then there is the interactivity. The beautiful thing about mobile is that we can accurately measure it, and with it. Like I say in my workshops, Mobile is the Magical Measurement Machine (the 6th unique benefit of mobile in fact). So bear in mind that online, typical ad campaigns will get far under 1% click-through rates. On mobile you can of course copy the same boring banner ad campaign and actually get far better click-through rates like 4% or 5% or 6%. If that is the level your mobile experts deliver for you, fire them now. On mobile we can do far far FAR better than that. What do I mean?
Then lets go to the UK. The myth about mobile ads is that concept of location-based ads that are used to pester us when we go to a shopping mall etc. That concept was proven untenable eleven years ago and I explained why in my early books. But I also asked for the 'when Madonna plays at Wembley Stadium' concept of venue-based ads, that are targeted not by the shopping mall or main street in town, but by what artist or sports activity is happening at the big sports stadiums and concert halls etc. That is a specialized form of location-based advertising which I promised would work. And now we have the evidence. The O2 venues in the UK have been using events-based venue advertising on mobile, obviously targeting the fans of whatever activity was happening, across the big O2 venues like the Millenium Dome in London. How successful? 20% click-through rates.
A more powerful and relevant measure than click-through rates, and one that is harder to achieve, is response rates. A click-through may happen accidentially, and also the click-through includes those who were curious but not convinced. They click but do not want to continue with that brand or campaign. A response rate is more involvement by the participant, they have actively decided to participate in the interactive campaign. Obviously response rates online are infinitessimally small. What do we see on mobile?
Then lets go to Turkey. Flo Shoes the local shoe store decided to send promotions and coupons via MMS and SMS. They sent out 900,000 total mobile advertisements. They got 160,000 responses (a 20% response rate!).
What about Egypt? Adidas ran a campaign on MMS and SMS and received a 35% response rate on their mobile ad campaign. Yes! More than one third of all who received the ad, responded to it.
REDEMPTION RATES / CONVERSION RATES
The real purpose of advertising is to drive sales (directly or indirectly). And again, on mobile we can measure the conversion rate. This is the ultimate in advertising, can we actually measure the concrete pin-pointed ad performance for a given viewer of the ad? On mobile, a well designed campaign can, of course. And we have some evidence.
I start with Blockbuster in the UK. They sent out 1 million offers and coupons to their opt-in database. 100,000 of those mobile coupons were redeemed. So the campaign achieved a measurable 10% conversion rate. Imagine how powerful that is! Compared to online where we might see 0.2% click-through rates on some banner ads. And on TV we don't know who saw it and which ad of a given ad campaign actually drove sales. But I'm not impressed with 10% conversion.
So lets go to the Philippines. HSBC bank ran a campaign on mobile to recruit new customers to its credit card. The campaign used SMS. The target customers had opted in on Globe network's subscriber base. How many were converted to new credit card customers? 15%. Thats amazing. But I am not impressed with that either.
Fine, so then lets hop over to Indonesia. McDonalds ran a mobile ad campaign for McCafe with MMS that was used to test out new flavors of iced drinks. The mobile coupons were redeemed at a rate of 16% redemption rate. Yes, one in six who received a coupon showed up at McCafe to redeem it. And that is impressive but we can do better.
Lets go to Nigeria. There Guinness beer ran a mobile ad campaign with instant rewards via SMS. It achieved redemption rates of.. 17%. And you are impressed with that? I'm not. Lets go to Japan.
In Japan McDonalds has already converted 20 million Japanese consumers as opt-in customers to McDonalds mobile advertising! How many is 20 million? Its one out of every six Japanese people alive! Not one sixth of 'adults' its one sixth of truly the whole population. How many of them redeem coupons regularly from McDonalds mobile ads? Half!
But wait, even that is not the ultimate. Alan Moore, yes 'our' Alan Moore told us at the Oxford University course on 7th Mass Media about Girlswalker, the Tokyo Girls fashion magazine and youth experience extravaganza on mobile and the real world. The fashion ads on Girlswalker mobile magazine have a conversion rate - not click-through rate, not response rate, but conversion rate - actual business generated - of 45%. Yes, out of 100 girls who see the ad for the new blouse or shoes or handbag, on average 45% will show up at a store and redeem the offer! Wow.
I WANT MORE ADS
So mobile is indeed the 7th mass medium. And yes, clearly, mobile is not the same as the internet. In fact, mobile is FAR more powerful as an advertising medium than the legacy PC based 6th mass media internet. And when mobile ad campaigns are designed well, they achieve huge click-through rates, response rates and even giant conversion rates. But the ultimate in advertising is if the consumer actually likes it so much, they literally ask for more ads. This was the concept we promised in our book with Alan Moore back in 2005, in Communities Dominate Brands, that a well-designed mobile ad campaign should be able to achieve that. And it can. This totally counter-intuitive concept is 100% alien on other media. We don't want more ads on TV or in the cinema or on radio or in our magazines or on the internet. But well designed advertising on mobile DOES produce that bizarre phenomenon - we start to ask for more. Witness Qustodian, already launched in Spain and the UK, a radical new mobile advertising service (among many other things). We heard on Facebook from a random Qustodian user, an Andrew Manley, writing "I never thought I would be asking this question in my life, but how can I receive more ads."
MAKE IT CROSS-MEDIA
But don't misunderstand me. I love mobile, but mobile is not the only media channel. In some cases yes, a 'mobile only' campaign can be great. But in most cases, mobile needs to be part of a mix of media used. And let me finish with the winner of the best mobile campaign in Turkey last year, by Garanti Bank. Its a cross-media campaign online and mobile. You get a link to the web ad, you have to give your mobile number in the opt-in process to get to view it. But then you see what looks like a TV news broadcast. The news anchor reports to the viewers that they have now reached the point where almost everybody in Turkey has a mobile banking account. But they are curious about why the last people are not signing up to it, and as they have reached now the point where there is only one person left who does not use mobile banking, the news anchor says he will call the person. And on camera, he takes an fixed landline phone and calls, looking into the camera. And then your phone rings! And when you answer, for a moment it seems like the person on the news is talking to you! After a little while you understand its not real, its a recording and they clearly are not listening to what you say. But this was a huge viral hit, where people absolutely loved it and told all friends, you have to see this ad. And yes, it obviously drove Garanti Bank to sign up tons of new customers to its banking in particular, to its mobile banking.
The advertising industry is embracing mobile now. Last year Ford became the first global brand to state categorically, that mobile was so critical, that from now on, every Ford car campaign will include mobile in it. Coca Cola offers us a good rule about how to spend your mobile budget, with their 70:20:10 rule, ie 70% spent on mobile messaging (SMS and MMS), 20% spent on the mobile web, and only 10% spent on all smartphone apps across all smartphone platforms. Or the simple guide from US food giant, Kraft, whose mobile philosophy is 'Leave no phone behind'. To illustrate how important mobile is for one of the biggest advertising companies on the planet, Google's Chairman, Eric Schmidt says: 'Put your best people on mobile.'
If you are in advertising, you are probably doing something in mobile already and are considering how to expand. I am here to tell you, that if you don't achieve these kinds of levels of success, you are not doing it right. You CANNOT try to copy the legacy media. You HAVE to learn that mobile has 9 unique abilities, and using those unique abilities, you can create SUPERIOR advertising on mobile, better than anything on any other media. If your mobile ads deliver response rates in the single digits, you are doing it wrong. Fire your agency, hire some competence to teach your team. Throw the current concepts into the waste basket and start again. Read the big names in our industry, books by Kim Dushinski and Chetan Sharma. Hire the right people to advise you like Jonathan MacDonald and Alan Moore (and me haha). Use agencies that have the competence and win the awards and deliver that kind of performance as I outline. It may be global giants like Ogilvy or specialist agencies like R/GA or D2C or Naked etc. But don't accept mediocre performance simply because it outperforms your internet advertising.
Mobile advertising launched 12 years ago and I was the first person in the world to talk about it at any telecoms conference (in Vienna). I then chaired the world's first mobile advertising conference eleven years ago in London. All of my books have included examples and case studies about mobile advertising and one of my twelve books actually is dedicated to case studies only about mobile advertising (see Tomi Ahonen Pearls Vol 1: Mobile Advertising - only 9.99 Euros for 50 case studies - see sample pages including several of the cases at the link).
For those who need an update of how the mobile advertising market evolved and grew in 2011, including the regional split of mobile advertising revenues, the total ads served, the distribution of mobile ads by type etc - there is a whole chapter on just mobile advertising in the TomiAhonen Almanac 2012 - only 9.99 Euros see more including sample pages here.