In a big step moving mobile media closer to prime time, Jeep is running ads once an hour per channel on 18 of the 24 available MobiTV cellphone channels, but will also have its own Jeep-branded channel. The channel, starting today, will continuously loop the existing four episodes of "The Mudds," short films now running online that show an adventurous, outdoor-loving-and mud-splattered-family that drives a Jeep Commander. The episodes will also continue to run on the Web at wearethemudds.com.
Dave Whetstone, chief marketing officer, MobiTV, said Unilever's Axe deodorant is in negotiations for a similar advertising arrangement. A spokeswoman for Unilever declined to comment, other than to say "Axe is always looking for new ways to interact with our consumers."
The mobile phone has "the potential for this to really change the way we market to people," said Julie Roehm, marketing-communications director for Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge at Chrysler Group. Over time, she expects to get detailed information on how consumers connect with the advertising and interact with it.
Technically, the Jeep "channel" is one of the first network-like properties to be established on the mobile phone, a number of industry experts said. "It's becoming sexy," said telecom analyst Jeff Kagan. Russ Meyer, chief strategy officer, Landor, San Francisco, said while creating a channel may be an interesting new concept, marketers need to be sure the technology delivers, and that mobile TV lives up to consumers' expectation of TV. "I'm not sure every brand needs to be a TV channel."
Mr. Whetstone said he views MobiTV as comparable to a cable operator that generates income from selling local ad time slots. He noted that mobile TV viewers tend to be members of the desirable male 18-to-34 demographic.
MobiTV is available to about 500,000 mobile phone subscribers using Cingular, Sprint, Alltel and other networks. Verizon Wireless has its own mobile-TV service, VCast, which does not at this time run advertising.
According to M:Metrics, about 22% of mobile phone subscribers over 13 years of age, or about 40 million mobile-phone subscribers, have multimedia phones capable of watching TV. They are overwhelmingly male, and aged 18-34.
A number of mobile-marketing experts expect the mobile media will take off as an advertising vehicle starting in 2006. Louis Gump, VP-mobile, the Weather Channel Interactive, said the Weather Channel is starting to build mobile content with the intent of selling ads. Already, American Express has signed on.