• October 11, 2007
  • By Jessica Tsai, Assistant Editor, CRM magazine

Mobile Makes an Impact

A new study released this week detailed the extent to which mobile marketing campaigns have a direct positive influence on the consumers that engage with them. The study, which involved consumers' exposure to an ad sent to their mobile devices, revealed increases in mobile ad awareness, message association, brand awareness, brand favorability, and consideration for future "purchase."

The study, conducted in July 2007 by researchers at Dynamic Logic, a Millward Brown company headquartered in New York, was commissioned by The Weather Channel Interactive (TWCI) and revolved around an advertisement for Hilton's Hampton Hotels. One set of people accessing The Weather Channel's WAP Web site were shown the Hampton's Hotel advertisement; from there, consumers were electronically invited to take the survey on their mobile phone. A control group comprising other visitors to the site -- not exposed to the ad -- was also invited to take the survey. More than 600 mobile phone users participated in the 10-to-11-question survey. Questions touched on several simple metrics:

  • "Have you heard of the brand?"
  • "Have you seen it advertised on your mobile phone?"

as well as other topics such as

  • favorability;
  • purchase intent; and
  • "whatever else applied to the campaign's goals," according to Kara Manatt, research director at Dynamic Logic.

The survey revealed that advertising through mobile Web sites such as weather.com was a strategic move: 72 percent of participants traveled for business or leisure within the past year, characteristics fitting with Hampton Hotels' target audience. Moreover, approximately two-thirds of users accessed the Internet from their mobile phones more than once a day, and 42 percent accessed weather.com more than once a day. Furthermore, those who were exposed to the ad had an overall greater favorability toward Hampton Hotels than did the control group (62 percent and 48 percent, respectively). In addition, those who were exposed to the campaign were more likely to consider staying at the hotel for their next visit. These statistics provide a solid foundation for advertisers to explore the positive impact of mobile marketing, according Manatt.

According to a presentation at this year's destinationCRM2007 conference, by Matt Volpi, director of product management at MobileLime, the world market for mobile marketing/advertising in 2007 is $3 billion, and by 2011, mobile ad spending in the U.S. alone will reach $4.8 billion, or 12% of that year's total online ad spending. (By comparison, mobile campaigns in the U.S. totaled just $421 million in 2006, or 2.6% of total online ad spending.)

However, before any mobile campaigns are launched, Manatt says, research is needed in order to identify which consumers and consumer segments would be most receptive to a particular campaign. Mobile marketing's limited appeal means advertisers still need to figure out the optimal approach. The numbers may be small at first, but Manatt suggests that marketers would be wise not to discount the medium. "It's not just branding impact [marketers] are wanting to know," she says. "They also want to know what these people are doing on their mobile phones." By understanding how people search, engage, and navigate via mobile devices, marketers can gain deeper insight into how to effectively target.

The study involving Hampton Hotels was as new a venture for Dynamic Logic as for the rest of the mobile industry. Although mobile's been appearing on everyone's menu, there are still very few who are ordering it -- and not just because it's one of the more expensive items on display. Julie Ask, lead analyst at JupiterResearch states, "To some extent, you can't spend more money than there is inventory. You have to let people opt in and there [are] only so many people browsing the mobile internet [now], and only so many people who want messages on their phone."

Any such campaign will need to pass muster as a cost-effective use of resources -- and marketers have lately been hard-pressed to prove its worth. Financial services giant HSBC, for example, reportedly just pulled the plug on a pilot program of mobile marketing. According to the silicon.com report, the bank tested technology that detected nearby mobile phones, sent a message asking the consumer to opt-in, and then narrowcasted a promotional message or invitation into the branch. Despite consumer reviews that HSBC reps characterized to silicon.com as generally positive, the bank reportedly dropped all intentions of fully implementing the project. An HSBC spokesman told silicon.com: "We did look at the results and it is not being taken forward. It didn't prove commercially viable."

Because mobile marketing is still considered new territory, marketers have to look before they leap. "It's almost not even about mobile," Manatt says. "There's this much bigger challenge--how mobile fits in with television advertising, iPod advertising, and how to make their message so that customers are really receptive to it." Still, marketers are moving forward and they'll hopefully be more than ready once consumers have caught onto the mobile trend. "I think the next step is really developing some averages and moving forwards so we can kind of aggregate some of this information on brand impact to kind of develop a set of best practices," she says.

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