The pavilion is fun and hip, just like the young Chinese likely to visit the Olympic Green and play around with the telecom company's soft services on display, like a mobile music platform. Chinese teens and young adults are the phone users most likely to spend money on extra services like sending photos and MMS messages, playing games, downloading ringtones and visiting WAP sites. China Mobile's pavilion has also become a demo site for another local company, MyClick Media, which has pioneered image-recognition mobile marketing in the mainland.
"The pavilion is a showcase to demonstrate the latest mobile technology, for China Mobile and for us," said Justin Tsang, MyClick's Shanghai-based chief technology officer.
MyClick's image-matching technology has roots in Japan's quick response technology, better known as QR codes. The codes look just like the bar codes used in retail chains worldwide. When Japanese take pictures of QR codes placed in print and outdoor ads with a mobile phone camera, the phone follows embedded instructions and opens web-based content and services through the phone's mobile browser. The services range from downloading a coupon to entering a contest to booking a test drive.
MyClick found a more advertiser-friendly way to trigger the same kind of response in a phone using images instead of codes. Users click on logos, objects and images selected by marketers. The photo grants users one-click access to mobile-based internet content, services, rewards and gifts via e-mail, SMS and MMS.
In its Olympic pavilion, China Mobile used MyClick to build a wishing wall called Minds Meeting Point. To create and share an Olympic wish, visitors can photograph any of the China Mobile logos inside the venue and send the image by MMS to a designated number. Wishes appear on a special wall inside the pavilion. Visitors can forward the image to friends outside the pavilion, who can post their own wish, said Mr. Tsang. "We get a lot of viral activity. On average, one person's photo is passed along to three friends."
The China Mobile promotion also allows visitors to download five Olympic-themed ringtones and access information on the exhibition like event schedules to their phones. The initiative will run through the end of the International Paralympic Games, also in Beijing, in late September. China Mobile is an obvious choice for a marketing tie-up, since it profits from users bouncing messages and photos back and forth in a market that has a lot of phones. China Mobile added nearly 7.5 million subscribers in May 2008 to reach an all-time high of 407 million, and is easily the world's largest mobile phone service provider.
MyClick is also finding fans among consumer marketers who value the opportunity to push a logo or an ad through a device that has become intensely personal among young consumers.
Pepsi-Cola became one of the first advertisers to use MyClick on a large scale earlier this year. It successfully tested the technology at events like the Pepsi Football & Basketball National Finale in September 2008 in Beijing.
After snapping Pepsi's logo on posters hanging in five activity zones around the stadium, fans could access special information on their phones such as player bios, team news and game statistics.
The food and beverage giant added a mobile component to this year's Pepsi Creative Challenge, a major mass-market promotion. Consumers were encouraged use MyClick to vote for entries, share photos, messages and blogs about contest submissions.
Over one million submissions came from mobile phones, but only a small percentage came through MyClick. Pepsi's experience suggests the technology works best when it is paired with high-end products like cars and luxury brands or used for promotions built around events like China Mobile's Olympic pavilion.
High-end foreign marketers like Adidas, Nokia and Estee Lauder advertise new products through "lucky draw" contests and mobile coupons distributed through MyClick.
Volkswagen, for example, is promoting its Skoda model in China through ads in specialized car magazines that encourage readers to photograph the Czech car brand's arrow logo. Using MyClick, the image takes readers to a suite of online options, such as locating the closest dealer, booking a test drive, downloading the product specs and reading about the brand's history. VW also collected information like phone numbers for potential car buyers for its Chinese database.
"MyClick campaigns all work around key images. The technology works well for Skoda, because one of Volkswagen's key goals is expanding the brand's recognition," said Mr. Tsang.
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