Mobile: Think Different


If anything’s clear in mobile, it’s that nobody’s really figured out yet how to market it effectively and consistently. Save for the carriers, of course; but beyond voice and text, even they’re throwing darts. So as the rule book sits wide open and mostly blank, it’s refreshing to hear some contrarian approaches.

Like that of Sean Rosenberg, head of mobile marketing over at RCA Music, a Sony BMG label. To Sean’s way of thinking, as he explained in a recent panel, there’s actually too much mobile content out there. (The moderator, by the way, asked him to repeat himself, just to make sure he heard properly).

That he did: Carrier decks–or what you see when you log onto your provider’s mobile web area, such as Verizon’s V CAST or T-Mobile’s T-Zones–are overflowing with content, says Rosenberg. It’s hard to get found with such limited space on the screen, not to mention a lack of strong recommendation engines that percolate good content up to the front.

On top of that, Sean continued, while mobile cuts across virtually all platforms and channels, it needs to be more experiential. Marketers haven’t really gotten past engagement after the first click–in other words, the payoff in mobile is usually pretty low. Now, some of this, in all fairness, is that WAP doesn’t support the razzle-dazzle of the Web (i.e., Flash, streaming video, etc.). But, apart from throwing up a static banner and counting the clicks, there aren’t many brands out there doing really innovative campaigns in WAP.

This is partly a tracking and measurement issue: On the whole, mobile metrics are spotty and inconsistent, owing largely to brands using multiple third-party partners and vendors. Plus since carriers aren’t opening up their books for publishers, brands are left guessing about what to do next. Sure, you can get some decent metrics info from your display campaigns (e.g., demos, devices, etc.); but it’s difficult to do something with that data in terms of re-targeting or closing the sale.

Ah, but then there’s voice. Remember that? It’s the way we talk to each other when we’re actually using the phone to talk. (Which, by the way, is still the number one usage in mobile, despite the understandable absence of media coverage). But, then again, is it really so understandable…?

If you look at some of the biggest mobile campaigns to date, they’ve had strong voice components. Lipitor, for example, did a 1-800 call to action for boomers and seniors in doctors’ waiting rooms and pharmacies. The result: almost a 55 percent redemption rate. MasterCard, using interactive voice response (IVR), also saw tremendous uptake with their “Obsessed” campaign around golf.

This is in line with the counter-thinking of RCA’s Sean Rosenberg, who sees the biggest opportunity in mobile search going through IVR, not text. Voice, after all, has a 100 percent penetration rate (let that one sink in for a moment…), and is eminently more understandable than WAP–which gets a little wonky when you’re trying to determine if it’s .com or .mobi or m.brand or…you get the idea.

He points to a campaign he did for one of his hip-hop artists, Cassidy. Via IVR, Cassidy invited fans and aspiring rappers to phone in and leave 16 bars of their best rhyming. The hook was, if you’re chosen, you get a guest spot in a video or appearance. So 300,000 voice minutes later–including Cassidy replying with comments and background on the record–you had a monster campaign and a great debut for the album.

The big idea here, then, is that it doesn’t have to be a big idea to work in mobile. Stick with good marketing ideas, leveraging behaviors that mobile users are regularly doing. And then build your campain to track, scale, and report on success metrics that you decide are relevant for what you’re doing.

That’s revolutionary in mobile.