Upwardly Mobile: A Look at Mobile Marketing In Action and on the Rise

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Target: In introducing the 2008 redesigned WRX, Subaru's "The Legend Reborn" campaign was meant to target existing and new customers—specifically young men 20 to 35 dubbed the "man-child" demographic, those fond of partying into the night, video games and gadgets.

Process: Preceding the car launch, R/GA developed a website that counted down to the new car's unveiling at the New York Auto Show. A similar countdown site was built for those accessing the web over a mobile phone. There, visitors could sign up for an SMS alert which would allow them to be among the first to see the car from their mobile devices at the time of the official ceremonies.

After the event, to encourage repeat visits, Subaru followed up by building a more extensive mobile web site. The site's additional content included video of all TV spots and rally race schedules. It also included QR codes (see sidebar) and a contact icon, a photo of a car which could be used to represent a person in a phone's directory.

Ad Support: The initial phase of the campaign was supported with a multichannel paid ad campaign, including
TV and print ads driving viewers to the mobile and online sites. One promotion involved a print ad in Maxim that encouraged consumers to enter a sweepstakes on the PC or mobile (WAP) websites to win a ticket to the Maxim after party at the Subaru XGames. It also bought more than five million mobile media impressions on Sprint.

Outcome: The mobile site drew 77% of the sweepstakes entries and the mobile campaign drew four times as many entrants as the print ad. After the mobile ads ran, entrants to the Maxim sweepstakes quadrupled and mobile alert opt-ins nearly doubled. Visits to the Subaru of America WAP site increased by more than 1000% after paid media spots ran. The campaign drew millions of impressions with a click-through rate of 2.7%. Overall, some 30,000 videos, ringtones and wallpapers were downloaded to cell phones, including videos of the campaign's TV spots.

Lessons Learned: First off, "integration is a key element of mobile," says Webster Lewin, director-mobile marketing at R/GA. However, he said the campaign also proved ads on the mobile web are a powerful tool for drawing traffic to mobile web sites. "The mobile media is actually one of the more effective ways to drive people to a mobile site," he said. Other evidence suggests visitors to the mobile web site are "more engaged on the mobile web" than if they were on the PC web, he said.

Surprisingly, even though the target was young men who have a predilection to sports, banner ads in the sports areas of the mobile web were not as effective as those that appeared "run of site" on the mobile web. Mr. Lewin theorized that men looking for sports news were very task oriented, overlooking the distraction of the ad and going straight for the score. He also believes that receptivity to mobile ads is different at different times of the day, when the task is over, or when the mobile device is being used to kill time.

He found that a mix of both on-deck and off-deck placement was most effective. The deck is the carrier-selected web content that subscribers see when they launch the internet on the mobile phone. Off-deck content includes the pages to which consumers directly navigate by typing in a URL on their mobile browser.

He also was pleasantly surprised by the residual lift to the mobile from the banner campaign. "People benchmarked it and kept going back to it," he said. Subaru added new content to the site with a relaunch in January.

What Didn't Work: The QR code was not as effective as the campaign's other elements, in part because so few people have devices equipped to read them (and in part due to some executional glitches). In terms of downloadable content, Mr. Lewin said the contact icon didn't work as well as a simple wallpaper of the car.

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