April 23, 2009

Mobile Marketing on the Move The gap between the hype and the reality of mobile advertising and marketing is narrowing thanks to consumer uptake of smart phones, 3G technology and adoption of technical standards that will make provisioning and creating campaigns easier. And while there's no doubt that mobile is the next disruptive technology, the battle for control and the quest to find the nexus between targeting, formats and offers has yet to be decided. The antagonists are carriers who control the pipes and the pricing, marketers who need to decide what to sell and determine consumer tolerances, content providers looking to monetize their efforts, browser developers seeking to improve their capabilities to enrich the mobile experience and advertisers looking to leverage mountains of potentially useful targeting data. Into this mix add the Mobile Marketing Association touting the latest revision of its technical and creative standards and mobile ad specialists, like Ping Mobile, looking to expedite the process and accelerate ad agency acceptance of mobile as a viable medium worthy of integration into big brand budgets. Consider these signs of progress, mostly surfaced in a new report from ContentNext Media entitled:" The Changing Mobile Industry: What it Means for Media Executives" written by Lauren Rich Fine and Galen Vaisman. AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile, who control roughly 80 percent of the 270 million US mobile subscribers, 84 percent of the population, agreed to new standardized marketing guidelines which should make widescale campaigns easier to do Mobile ad revenue is expected to grow to $200 million globally according to the Yankee Group. We are getting closer to a critical mass of early adopters who can convince the next wave of marketers to give mobile a try. The number of mobile banner ads served by BuzzCIty in Q1 2009 was UP 38 percent over Q4 2008. We are getting traction on banners, experience in couponing and launching significant numbers of text/SMS campaigns. We are getting pretty good at quizzes, polls and contests and synching mobile media with print, broadcast and online messaging efficiently. The US mobile content market grew 38 percent in 2008 and mobile entertainment (gambling, porn, games, music, TV) was up 28 percent. This evidences a big change n how people think about and use their phones. Smartphone sales will reach 13.5 percent of new handsets sold this year with new introductions from Apple,RIM,Nokia and Google capturing the attention of the marketplace.iPhones and Blackberries have dramatically changed the way consumers think about and use mobile phones and they have accelerated consumers' trust in mobile media. The 27,000 iPhone and iPod applications have created a new market for content, especially games which account for 1 in 4 downloads.The next step is to leverage this trust and the "cool" factor to better understand what customers want, when they want it and how best to give it to them. 40-45 percent of mobile phone customers access the Internet on their device, a number that should steadily increase as the experience improves, costs come down and Obama's infrastructure plans get going. As browsers get better and bandwidth becomes more accessible, video will bloom and location based targeting will take hold But in spite of these hopeful signs, there are still significant challenges to realizing the dream of having your life in your pocket. And these gating factors are serious: 1. Carriers Control. They own the pipes; they decide what gets sold, they do the billing and compile the data. They have their own agendas in terms of public policy and revenue generation. They promise highly selective targeting but don't really have the systems in place to dice and slice the data. They are big robber barons with key allies on Wall Street and Capital Hill so there's no avoiding them. 2. Seeking Standardization. Markets blossom and explode when devices, applications and services are inter-operable. That means everybody uses the same standards and infrastructure so that anyone can send or sell anything to anyone. At the moment and for the foreseeable future, the players have divergent economic interests that will prevent this. And while we are seeing parallel app stores springing up, we won't get a hockey stick uptake until all apps are available to all customers using all devices. This will be several big battles and several years hence. So what do we do till then? Learn from Shira Simmonds, president of Ping Mobile, a leading mobile campaign management firm. She argues that using a middleman allows marketers to finesse carriers' provisioning issues and accelerate the process of...
eTailers Start Prepping for Black Friday 2009 Prepping your eCommerce site for Black Friday is as much a Rite of Spring for e-tailers as daffodils in bloom, the start of hay fever season or the run-up to Mother's Day, Father's Day and Graduation. This year "optimiization" is on the minds of the 190 senior executives responding to the e-Tailing Group's 8th annual merchant Survey. These executives charged with leading the only real bright spot in the retail landscape are looking for the tactics and investments that are the cheapest to implement and convert the most customers fastest while delivering a satisfactory online experience. How do I know this? auren Freedman told me. Lauren, who leads the Chicago-based e-Tailing Group, is the doyenne and the den mother of eCommerce merchants. Twice a year she surveys the waterfront. This 8th annual survey asks operating executives what they think. It is the sweetheart part. Her ten year old mystery shopping survey is a hard, cold, gut wrenching reality check that many of these same executives live in fear of because she measures the distance between their talk and their walk. In between Lauren and her gang consult with many of the top and insurgent online brands. If anyone knows what's really going on in online commerce; Lauren does. eCommerce is the only part of retail showing any kind of growth and even those projections are modest. But Lauren says "management is growing somewhat dissatisfied with ROI and dropping conversion rates." Therefore according to the survey results year-over-year the top three strategic focal points for merchants are 1) greater emphasis on profitability, 2) improving KPIs and 3) applying the right resources. The objective in this recession-tossed year is profitability; defined as making your revenue and margin goals PLUS doing it in the most financially efficient way possible. Evidently eCommerce is well enough established as a channel that it must adhere to the same tough metrics that govern retail plan-o-grams and deliver the same kinds of measurable returns. As merchants cull through the lessons from last Christmas and look ahead, they are looking to bet smaller budgets on key moves to increase revenues, drive greater conversions and keep customers loyal, happy and coming back. If you have a choice of where to put your chips, Lauren believes these tactics will yield the greatest bang for your buck: 1. Segment and target e-mail better. Most merchants are already running sophisticated outbound e-mail programs. An incremental data mining effort will yield a disproportionate result. 2. Buy better on-site search. More than half of shoppers immediately hit the search box when they land on your home page. The better the search function; the faster they find what they want and the faster they buy. Similarly the faster they find what they want; the happier they are and the more people they tell about your site. And while search tools are not necessarily cheap, there are many work arounds so that even a modest upgrade in on-site search will produce a sales spike. 3. Improve merchandising. Show more, enable shop-by-outfit, use video if you can afford it, allow shoppers to "view in a room" or store merchandise under consideration. And while the tactics will change based on the category you are in; this is about enhancing the experience and giving customers greater control over how they shop. At some point in the near future sharp search, video and even social shopping will become industry standards. The closer you can get today; the more productive your customers will be. Interestingly, Lauren's advice jibes directly with a survey of 22,699 direct marketers done by Target Marketing Magazine in January 2009, that ranked e-mail, direct mail, natural and paid search and web advertising as the most popular tools for customer acquisition and the tactics that would draw the greatest added budget investments in 2009. Other site features that can contribute to conversion and customer satisfaction are, says Lauren, more guided and sign-posted navigation and alternative payment forms. Customers too are looking for maximum purchasing power and satisfaction for minimum bucks. Anything you can do to show them the path to the goods, put together outfits for them and help them manage payments by using PayPal, billing it to their phone bills or their checking accounts or accepting debit or stored value cards helps move more merchandise out the door. In a monkey-see; monkey-do business like retail, smart online merchants keep an eye on the EGEG (the E-tailing Group E-Commerce Gauge) sort of an EKG for e-tailing, which found that...

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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