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Mobile marketing for publishers: getting the basics right

The smartphone and tablet revolution is here and is going to stay. We have truly reached a tipping point and we are now on the cusp of the perfect mobile storm.

Publishers know this and even the most traditional newspaper and magazine groups now have a mobile strategy. It seems to me, however, that many publishers have tried to run before they can walk.

Yes, smartphone penetration is growing exponentially year on year, but so is SMS still.

Through SMS, publishers’ can gather a detailed and profiled picture of their audience.

Small print smaller
To contextualize, let us look at the challenges that publishers are facing. Their audience is dying – literally.

The newspaper habit was generally picked up by people in their 20s and 30s and now because of the proliferation of digital media, this is no longer the case.

Apart from the supermarket price wars being played out in the British tabloids, for instance, advertising yields are declining. The trend in the United States is summed up rather nicely by this graph:

It is quite clear that publishers need solutions.

Done intelligently, SMS marketing can generate revenue through premium SMS, provide a platform for user engagement – text us your views – and collect valuable data about an audience.

We advise our publishing clients that any time they print an SMS call to action they should collect at least two pieces of geo-demographic information (ZIP/postcode, date of birth).

We also advise our clients to set up database tags against a campaign which give us not only demographic but also psychographic information about that reader. Suddenly an SMS becomes quite powerful, right?

Using this information, and with the right permissions, publishers can then start building loyalty programs and sell ancillary products to their readers.

For instance, through an outbound SMS campaign they can drive a fickle audience segment to consume a piece of content through digital or print.

Basic instincts
Profiled and opted-in databases are also very interesting to advertisers.

A mobile campaign could be sold by the publisher’s ad sales team to complement a display campaign.

Let us also bear in mind the massive revenues driven through enterprise deals such as reader offers and white-label digital products such as Bingo.

How could a profiled and opted in database enhance these offers? Let us also consider that most publishers have huge databases of readers’ details and retain data intelligence and data warehouse companies to manage it.

Imagine how powerful that data could become by overlaying mobile datasets over it.

All this can happen through a simple mobile CRM program which is revenue-generating and which moves a mobile strategy from a cost center to a profit center.

A tablet and smartphone strategy is important – it is the future.

However, a mobile strategy for a publisher needs to be a 360-degree one, based in the here and now along with one eye on the future. Getting the basics right can only enhance the more sexy propositions moving forward.

Terry McCusker is manager of media at Velti, London. Reach him at [email protected].