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Mobile Marketing Forum London emphasizes strategy, tactics and analytics

By Peggy Anne Salz

LONDON – From brand case studies to permission-marketing consumer research from Alcatel-Lucent and comments about the requirement for a “mobile currency definition” from Greg Stuart, the newly named president/CEO of the Mobile Marketing Association, the focus at last week’s the Mobile Marketing Association’s Mobile Marketing Forum was squarely on real numbers and real results.

The emphasis on strategy, tactics and – above all – analytics comes at a critical juncture in the evolution of the MMA and reflects a new phase of development in the mobile marketing industry.

Just weeks ago, the MMA repositioned itself at the global, regional and national levels to “redefine the role it plays in promoting and enabling mobile marketing globally.”

The MMA followed this announcement by striking agreements with organizations including the Chief Marketing Officer Council, the International Advertising Association’s British chapter, the Marketing Society and the Marketing Academy, aimed at achieving “greater industry cohesion and collaboration.”

Connect the dots, and the MMA has moved from explanation to execution.

The discussion and debate during last week’s event in London provides us a glimpse of this new MMA.

Clearly, the MMA will continue to evangelize about mobile and educate companies across various ecosystems about the advantages of placing mobile at the center of their marketing campaigns.

But the organization will also pool its energies and its resources to ensure that brands and agencies can measure their results.

As Paul Berney, chief marketing officer and managing director for EMEA at the MMA, put it in an exclusive interview: “It’s a different MMA.”

What changed? In a word: Awareness.

“We realized that brands and agencies are our primary audience,” Mr. Berney said. “[And the industry at-large] no longer needs convincing that mobile is an indispensable part of the marketing mix.”

The numbers game
However, the industry does need the confidence to invest more in mobile, which only comes from knowing that the numbers add up.

Achieving this key objective requires a different skills set, and that is where Greg Stuart, the MMA’s new CEO, comes in (see story).

“Every media channel has a very well-defined, industry-accepted currency that the technologies execute against,” Mr. Stuart said.

“Our opportunity here is to create a mobile currency definition that really begins to support global marketers in global markets and not just their individual markets,” he said.

What will this definition include? Mr. Stuart can only provide his personal view at this point.

One, it will be a metric that is “aligned” with how all other media are measured.

“But it won’t be apples to apples—it will be more like a Granny Smith to Mackintosh comparison,” Mr. Stuart said.

Two, it will somehow include engagement and thus reflect mobile’s unique ability – as a fiercely personal device – to truly connect with consumers.

“The idea if creating a measure that is evolutionary – even revolutionary – is a powerful idea,” Mr. Stuart said.

Three, it will top the MMA agenda – because it has to.

“If marketers don’t trust the numbers, they will not trust the media,” Mr. Stuart said. “So, if something has inhibited the growth of mobile, it is measurement.”

Getting everyone in the ecosystem to agree on measurement was a mammoth task in the Internet.

Mr. Stuart saw several initiatives come and go during his 2001-2007 tenure as president/CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau before the organization produced a metric for measuring impressions on the Internet.

And even this standard has gaps if we consider new research that finds leader-board advertising on Internet Web pages is not the prized real estate we thought it was.

In reality, in the time it takes for the leader board to load, many consumers have already scrolled down. Thus, publishing sites rarely achieve more than 70 percent viewable at best.

Mobile, however, will likely be a different story.

Sure, mobile marketing and advertising will develop different and challenging dynamics.

And defining – let alone measuring – engagement will be a tall order, but mobile also has a host of factors playing in its favor.

Chief among these: the ability of mobile to reach consumers when it counts most – at the moment they are researching a product, making a purchase or just open to communication from a brand.

Just in time
Presentations and panels during the two-day event underlined the pivotal role of mobile in our everyday lives and the new ways brands and agencies can insert themselves into our everyday shopping experiences to turn intrusive push advertising into pull experiences where the consumer calls the shots.

Data from Joe Horwood, communication manager for GS1 MobileCom, an initiative of the GS1 aimed at making mobile commerce and product information services and applications interoperable, scalable and cost-effective, suggested that the vast majority – 75 percent – of purchase decisions are made in front of the retail shelf.

“So marketing has to influence that moment,” Mr. Horwood said.

Against this backdrop, the value proposition of brands changes from advertising to assistance.

In contrast to the obvious messages, brands can deliver services and information that guide consumers on their shopping journey.

An interesting statistic to back this up: 58 percent of U.S. consumers said they wanted information that goes beyond the usual packaging data to include details on health, well-being and ethics – fair trade compliance, for example.

“This is a requirement for information we can satisfy with mobile,” Mr. Horwood said.

His advice to brands looking for an entry point to consumers: Develop apps that enhance the experience of making and keeping a shopping list to drive engagement.

GS1 research found that more than 20 percent of U.S. consumers would be interested in having a shopping list application from their favorite retailer.

Best Buy’s ubiquity
Consumer electronics retailer Best Buy has made a “strategic decision” to interact with consumers on their mobile phones, and uses a variety of triggers, including text messages, IVR and bar codes, to start the conversation.

The end-game, according to Tiffany Gerhardt, senior manager of marketing and emerging capabilities at Best Buy, is to create an “immersive in-store experience.”

The mix of mechanisms means that Best Buy can connect with consumers on consumers’ terms.
In the U.S., for example, Ms. Gerhardt noted a “50-50 split” in usage between text messaging and IVR.

Best Buy is rolling out mobile bar codes in all its stores.

But it is not just about the technology. It is about delivering marketing messages that mean something.

The tight integration of mobile marketing and CRM systems lets Best Buy know when to put up and when to shut up.

If the customer care side of the business is dealing with a consumer complaint, for example, the system now knows not to send that same consumer a text message promoting an item or announcing a discount. It’s not rocket science – it’s reason.

Marketing to consumers at this point in time is a waste, and Best Buy ranks high for putting a cross-media strategy in place that connects the dots.

Another approach paying dividends for Best Buy – and other brands that presented during the event – is opt-in.

Specifically, Ms. Gerhardt reported a more than 50 percent response rate to marketing messages and campaigns when the information was “segmented to be relevant to consumers.”

How does BestBuy known what messages to send which customers? It asks first.

“Opt-in is essential,” Ms. Gerhardt said.

A recent campaign that alerted opted-in consumers to when they were eligible for a mobile phone upgrade achieved a 25 percent response rate.

Permission, please
British retail chain Marks & Spencer also echoed the requirement for opt-in marketing and advertising.

According to Sienne Veit, social and mobile commerce development manager at M&S, the store has built up an opt-in database of more than 700,000 consumers.

Her advice to brands: measure everything, ask for permission and make opt-out a no-brainer to build trust. It works.

Ms. Veit reported that less than 1 percent of consumers have opted out.

Indeed, the case for permission-based marketing is a solid one based on best practice and hard facts.

Thomas Labarthe, vice president of mobile marketing at Alcatel-Lucent, drew on research conducted by the Market Advantage Youth Lab, a primary research program managed by Alcatel-Lucent to understand how users around the world – teens to adults – experience marketing across a variety of channels, including mobile, to show that opt-in marketing delivers results.

The Youth Lab surveyed a total of 2,223 users across 11 countries. Of this total, 992 respondents were Europeans, representing France, Italy, Britain, Germany and Spain.

Among the findings:

• 82 percent said it was very important to ask their permission before sending mobile ads

• 71 percent wanted control of their profile to address privacy concerns

• 76 percent felt that ads should be interest and preference based

• 56 percent were more likely to make purchases from a preferred brand through a permission-based marketing service

• 42 percent were more likely to remain loyal to their mobile operator if they offered a permission-based marketing service

The numbers play in favor of a strategy built on permission, preferences and privacy.

“It is about asking consumers to share their interests along the way,” Mr. Labarthe said. “This empowerment leads to engagement.”

In fact, Alcatel-Lucent’s consumer research found that 69 percent of respondents would be willing to answer at least four questions from brands or carriers to determine their preferences, and 71 percent would be willing to share personal information such as interests and hobbies.

While permission-based marketing is fast becoming a business imperative, successful execution will also require the involvement of mobile operators, per Alcatel-Lucent.

“Scale and data will make mobile marketing profitable, and mobile operators are the source of both,” Mr. Labarthe said.

To this end, Alcatel-Lucent has launched Optism, a permission-based marketing platform that builds scale by hosting and aggregating permission-based inventory across several carriers to help simplify the media-buying process and provide consumers a say in the advertising messages that they receive on their phones.

“At the end of the day, the customer owns the customer,” Mr. Labarthe said.

Mobile insights
To connect with customers – particularly Millennials – brands must develop and deliver an authentic value proposition.

Jay Altschuler, global communication planning director at Unilever, said that proposition revolves around being mobile, that is, wherever consumers are, “being authentic,” and listening. He advises brands to give consumers a voice and role.

Coca-Cola is also convinced that advertising is a case of give-and-take.

“Advertising is an exchange, so give teens something of value,” said Jude Brooks, interactive marketing manager at Coca-Cola Europe.

In the case of Coca-Cola, free minutes have become the cornerstone of an offer that has generated record results.

The company is rolling out its ongoing Gimme Credit campaign across Germany, France and Britain.

The brand offers users in Britain 50 pence of phone credit with every promotional pack of Fanta, Dr. Pepper and Sprite soft drinks.

The buy-in of the top-six carriers in Britain means that the campaign has the potential to reach more than 99 percent of all British users – pre-paid and post-paid.

To date Mr. Brooks counts 525,000 valid entries, 217,000 unique entrants and 2.44 entries per entrant.

In total, more than 250,000 British pounds (GBP) in mobile credit has been given away during the main phase of the promotion.

Next on the Coca-Cola agenda: a tighter fit between marketing campaigns and CRM systems to automate the collection and redemption of loyalty points, for example.

And tying it all back in with RFID technology to promote activities around the product such as recycling in return for additional credits is just “a couple of years out,” per Mr. Brooks.

Read between the lines, and it is all about building a more holistic marketing experience that can accompany consumers on their journey.

Just how many screens a consumer can access as part of their daily routine is mind-boggling.

Marc Mielau, group head of digital media at BMW, counted more than a dozen and later told me he thought of several more, including ATM terminals and ticket kiosks – to include in future presentations.

His point: mobile has a central spot in the marketing mix, but intelligent multichannel management is a must.

“Brands should allow for a more fluid experience [across platforms and screens],” Mr. Mielau said. “The opportunity is in letting consumers choose their screens and how they want to interact.”

Big opportunities
However, the biggest opportunity of all could be connecting with consumers in emerging markets.

Jonathan McKay, creative director at Praekelt Consulting, a mobile services agency headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, pointed out that marketing to the next billion could be a lot easier than selling to the last.

“These are audiences that want to speak with brands because it’s such a new experience,” Mr. McKay said.

And brands can start with a simple outreach.

“These consumers just want to be addressed,” Mr. McKay said. “These are people who have never been spoken to [by brands] on mobile in any significant way.”

Just how eager emerging markets are to connect with their favorite brands comes across in the results of an instant rewards campaign run by Guinness in Nigeria.

It counted an average of 25,000 entries per day and achieved a whopping 36 percent redemption rate over a two-month period of the multi-phase campaign.

It is interesting to note that Nigeria is the second-largest market for Guinness beer outside Britain.

It is also important not to take advantage of the willingness of consumers in these markets to interact with campaigns via mobile.

Mr. McKay urges brands to ask permission first by offering opt-in advertising, not spam.

Another request he has for all brands: Get “past bribery” with cool offers and deliver services and branded utilities that are sustainable.

My take: The sharp focus on permission and preferences, which ran like a leit motiv through the two-day event, potentially paves the way for more effective mobile marketing campaigns and strategies.

More brands and agencies understand the importance of collecting customer insights and increasingly recognize that asking consumers outright may be the best way to start the conversation – and keep it going.

After all, as Mr. McKay pointed out, the real value to mobile marketing is not in delivering the message.

It is in allowing – even empowering – consumers to interact with brands on a personal level that will turn a one-off banner or text into a lifetime exchange.

Peggy Anne Salz is the chief analyst and founder of MSearchGroove, a technology site providing analysis and commentary on mobile search, mobile advertising and social media.