To Reach Mobile Users, Make Your Marketing Useful

Roundtable of Experts Says Smart Advertisers Will Use the Medium to Provide Consumers Something Valuable

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When it comes to mobile marketing, advertisers have not only a challenge but a mandate to create something useful for consumers, according to a panel of experts Advertising Age gathered to talk about the opportunities -- and potential pitfalls -- of reaching consumers on their phones. Good mobile marketing, the consensus said, takes advantage of the channel's inherent traits and ties into other media.
Cynthia McIntyre
is senior director of advertising at CareerBuilder, where she leads branding and directs collegiate, diversity, e-mail and event marketing. Ms. McIntyre has more than 10 years of advertising experience and has worked for global agencies including BBDO, Grey and JWT. Past accounts include Heinz, Kraft, Delta Air Lines, GlaxoSmithKline and Northwestern Mutual.
All photos by Tony Pettinato
An edited excerpt of the discussion follows; video excerpts can be found on

Advertising Age: So let's get right to the point. Most people say they don't want ads on phones. Is that what mobile marketing is?

Maria Mandel: I think, in general, anytime you say to consumers, "Do you want to see an ad?" they're going to say no, regardless of whether it's a television ad or a mobile ad. And with mobile you get a much stronger response because the mobile device is such a personal device, with you 24/7.

Richard Ting: I think nowadays across the entire advertising industry there's a big push toward creating services and utilities for consumers, as opposed to five or 10 years ago where advertising was really looked upon as 30-second TV spots and print ads and banner ads. You have a lot of agencies that are working with brands and clients to create valuable services and utilities for their consumers, and I think that type of connection with consumers is going to start replacing the banner ads and the campaign microsites that we see out there in the industry. ... I personally wouldn't want to have advertising messages pushed to my mobile device, but if it were actually a useful service, I would probably jump on it and use it.

Ad Age: What is a good use of the medium?

Eric Bader: Smart marketers and brands are tailoring the experience to the mobility of the phone and the utility of the phone and are not making it an arduous experience to have a good time with a brand. They're offering something that consumers are going to get a benefit out of.

Cynthia McIntyre: I agree. This is an overused word, but it is about content; it's about the most relevant type of information. And just like the TV remote control ... [consumers] can also zap you off the phone as well.

Ad Age: You've created an iPhone app as a means to invite consumers to spend time with CareerBuilder. Tell us about that.

Ms. McIntyre: [Mobile] is sort of our petri dish at CareerBuilder. We started testing back in '04, and it's about understanding the needs of our clients -- which are businesses that post jobs at -- and understanding the consumers. ... There is interest at this point. Just from our iPhone application, we've seen half a million job searches, job views. It was all about partnering with Apple and understanding the usability and the options, incorporating GPS and sort of assembling as you go. Then there's the excitement of launching it and then getting feedback, taking that feedback, and improving it and learning from it.

Last year, we found that a huge majority of people aren't quite ready for job alerts and job recommendations [via their phones]. They said, "Actually we're more interested in getting them via e-mail and will go back to the computers and retrieve them." So we're always just testing, understanding dynamics and needs of businesses and our consumers.

Ad Age: Apple introduces a super-fast 3G iPhone, and what I keep hearing about is the App Store. What's all the buzz about?

Mr. Ting: There obviously is the iPhone application environment, but there's also the Nokia application environment. Nokia has a platform called WidSets. You can create Flash Lite applications as well.
Eric Bader

is managing partner of Brand in Hand, where he manages mobile-marketing strategy and campaigns for major brands, including many in the retail and consumer-package-goods categories. Mr. Bader came to this venture from MediaVest Digital, where he was managing director. He also held leadership roles at College Sports Television and for years at Ogilvy Interactive.

I think BlackBerry has an application environment. And T-Mobile just announced that they're opening up their application environment as well.

I think right now the conversation that's happening with clients is focused on creating applications because applications can provide consumers with richer experiences, as opposed to mobile websites. There's the restaurant finder that allows you to shake your iPhone, and that application ties into the gestural base hardware of the device [and] randomly selects a restaurant in your neighborhood. If you were creating a mobile website, you couldn't take advantage of what's available through the hardware of the device.

Chanel is doing iPhone apps as well. Chanel provides premium clothing for its target audience, and the actual iPhone app that they created takes advantage of the photo slide view that's available through the iPhone device, so users could actually flick through the different photos of the models -- and that's not possible through a mobile website.

Ms. Mandel: It comes down to what experience you want to enable. It's not about just doing an app for the sake of doing an app. ... As the mobile web evolves and develops, there are certain things that may be easier to execute using the mobile web. But there definitely is a time and a place to leverage apps, and Richard, you gave some great examples of some applications that allow you to create this enhanced user experience.

Ad Age: Well, what about this idea of sponsoring apps? There's a cottage industry cropping up around it.

Mr. Bader: I think it has a role on a media plan if you are looking for exposure and to associate a brand with a really good experience. But I think you pay differently and you have different metric expectations of that than you would a more engaging role for a brand within an application.

Ms. Mandel: I think it depends on where you are in the funnel. If you're at that awareness phase and you want to get reach, I think sponsoring an app, sponsoring several different types of apps will give you that wider reach. If you want to get into more engagement, loyalty type of measures, then you want to develop your own app, because you want that persistent presence on that handset device.

Ultimately, a consumer is looking for one of three things. They're either looking for information that they're in need of -- sort of the utility piece of mobile. Then there's entertainment, something that's going to engage, surprise and delight them. Or what we're seeing more and more of in mobile is that community piece, of how do you start getting conversations going, start building interaction between people using their mobile devices? It is ultimately where mobile started out, right? It's a communication tool.

Ad Age: How long does it take to set up a mobile ad campaign? Is this a complicated thing?

Mr. Bader: A lot of it has to do with where it gets integrated into the process, whether it's an afterthought or whether you're really planning at the strategic stage what role mobile has. But it's not an exotic process or anything terribly different from other channels.
Maria Mandel

is senior partner-executive director of digital innovation at Ogilvy, where she consults across the Ogilvy group on emerging communication platforms such as broadband, mobile marketing, gaming, digital out of home, community marketing and advanced TV. Before joining Ogilvy, Ms. Mandel led interactive teams at Draft and Lowe and worked on the client side at Kraft Foods.

I mean, you've got audiences, you've got tools, you've got ways of reaching them. ... It's not that different from even setting up TV.

Mr. Ting: Say, for instance, there's a campaign that utilizes text alerts or text reminders or trivia or polling. Creatives need to understand that there's a long process involved in terms of getting short codes approved. ... It typically takes between eight and 12 weeks to get short codes approved.

Now more clients are asking us to ... put together sustainable programs, whereas in the past they were just "Hey, we have some leftover budget. Can you guys do a mobile execution, because we want to test and learn what the medium is all about?" But I think nowadays pretty much every client is coming to us and they're asking us for long-term strategic visions for how they could tap into the mobile medium.

Ad Age: Do the rest of you agree? Are marketers putting together mobile strategies?

Ms. Mandel: What I'm seeing is a lot of confusion in the marketplace in terms of how to leverage mobile. Mobile is both a push and a pull media channel, and there's a lot of confusion of when you use each. ... Let's take a step back and say, OK, what are our marketing objectives? What type of experience do we want to enable? Or what business problems do we want to help solve? And [then figure out] how to use mobile in the best way to go about doing that.

Mr. Bader: In some cases [mobile is] a good vehicle for extending reach. In some cases it's good for finding unduplicated reach. It's a good way to pick up some reach from other channels that aren't performing. One of the ways that we're getting brands to mobile is we've gone out and really found a way to move underperforming dollars out of channels like e-mail and direct mail. ... In a lot of cases for a lot of clients, those channels are starting to diminish in terms of response rates, open rates, and we have started to move dollars over to mobile, because it can perform in comparison, and it is reliable from that standpoint, so on both the planning standpoint and the targeting standpoint, it's worked pretty well.

Ad Age: What's a typical budget that you can move into mobile?

Mr. Bader: We've been successful at the $50,000 level, at the $100,000 level, at the $250,000 level. Mobile today doesn't have the kinds of sizes of audiences and the segments that can be effective at $13 million, $15 million, $20 million. ... One of the other little tactics that we've used is doing comparisons where we have been able to show for a $250,000 home-page takeover on a popular portal or on another popular site that media planners buy all the time, what you could get for the same investment in mobile, and in a lot of cases the numbers look really, really good in mobile.

Ad Age: Talk about integrating mobile with other media.

Mr. Bader: One [strategy] is taking static media and giving it a response mechanism. I think we all have had the experience of watching TV or looking at a print ad and wishing you could do something about it. Consumers sort of vote for that. A lot of people love the iPod advertising from Apple, go and download all those songs. So people really do want to participate with advertising and do something with it. ... Mobile is a great means of activation because we have it with us in the home, out of the home, on the run, in transit, in a lot of places.

The second part of it is there's quite a bit of research out there that's shown the existence of mobile in a campaign ... has improved both the response and the interaction rates of the mobile media, the online media, and, in a lot of cases, television and print and radio.

Ad Age: What are some examples of good mobile executions?

Ms. Mandel: We've had a lot of success with B-to-B and B-to-C clients in breaking through the clutter and just getting people to pay attention and respond and interact with the brand.
Richard Ting

is VP-executive creative director of R/GA's Mobile and Emerging Platforms Group, where he creates integrated, interactive user experiences across the web as well as in the wireless and physical spaces. In six-plus years with the agency, Mr. Ting has worked on accounts such as Nike, Nokia and Verizon Wireless and has accumulated almost every major industry award, including a Cannes Gold cyber Lion.

For DHL we did weather alerts delivered by DHL, using out-of-home advertising to drive a call to action. ... [We did a] mobile download of a game in which you're stacking DHL boxes in a "Tetris"-like game we called the "Stack-It" game. It's entertainment -- we had a 10% pass-along rate. It was a great user experience.

We've done interactive billboards for Dove. The "Campaign for Real Beauty" is all about a debate and engaging people in a conversation about what is real beauty, so you ask a question on a billboard. We had one where we showed a 96-year-old woman and asked if she was wrinkled or wonderful. And we gave people the opportunity to respond -- because they're walking by a billboard, they have their mobile phone -- and [in] real time the results were being polled in a digital display.

Ad Age: Richard, what are the challenges of creating content for phones?

Mr. Ting: There's not a lot of budget to collect a second set of video assets or still images just for the mobile medium, so it's very important for the mobile creatives to be included at the table very early on. If there is a photo shoot, they could jump on [it] and capture the video assets and photo assets at the same time. Once you have those assets to work with, you actually can start providing useful and entertaining content through the mobile channel.

I think the other challenge for mobile creatives is being able to create unified experiences across all these different handsets. If you look out into the marketplace, there are so many different handsets out there; there's everything from the iPhone to BlackBerrys to the smaller clamshell devices to the smaller flip devices. [It's a challenge] in terms of getting the content out to the consumer so it's properly formatted across the different devices.

I think some of the other challenges ... are doing creative concepts that fall within the SMS world -- just being able to plan for those.

Ad Age: How are lighting and other creative concerns different in mobile?

Mr. Ting: If you're shooting a video for mobile, you probably don't want to have a lot of panning; you want to ... use a lot of close-ups, so there's not a lot of color in the background. When you compress video for mobile, you want to try to compress the video down so that the size is much smaller compared with when you serve up a video on the web, because with mobile you're still dealing with carrier speeds and carrier bandwidth issues.

Ad Age: Other mobile content challenges?

Mr. Bader: If you're doing mobile content, there's an accelerated expectation that content is going to be more frequently updated because of the mobility aspect. It enhances the need to make sure things don't go stale and things aren't out-of-date and inaccurate. ... It depends what you're doing, but a pretty good word of advice is if you're going to set up a very active, information-rich, real-time-supplied mobile site, you've got to have the infrastructure ready to be able to support that. You need good third parties who can feed you information. ... Consumers' expectations of interacting with brands through mobile is going to be one of immediacy.

Mr. Ting: And just to add to that, for the sites that we're creating for our clients that will live on for a year or two years at a time, we're trying to create those mobile sites in a way where they work together with the actual website so it's pretty much just one platform. If there's a content change that happens on the website, the thinking is that that content change will be reflected also in the mobile site as well. Instead of managing two separate environments, you're really just managing one set of data, one set of assets -- and if you change an asset or a line of copy, it gets reflected both on the website as well as in the mobile website.

It's very important for brands to think of mobile within the larger ecosystem, as opposed to "Hey, let's just create a mobile website and keep it off on the side." It really needs to tie back into whatever else is happening within the digital world.
An iPhone app that lets users search for jobs on the go. Have a sweet commute you just don't want to give up? Use the device at the location of your current job. It will tap GPS technology to find out where you are and let you search for jobs in the neighborhood.
"A few thousand" people have downloaded it and conducted a collective 500,000 job searches on the app, said Cynthia McIntyre, senior director of advertising at CareerBuilder. "It's about understanding the needs of our clients, which are businesses that post jobs ... [and] the consumers."
-- Abbey Klaassen
Didn't have the time or money to go to Beijing? Lenovo, an official Olympic sponsor, launched a series of four mobile applications for BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and iPhone. The apps allowed users to track official medal counts, follow particular countries and see the latest Olympic photos, with candid shots of athletes.
The most popular application was the one tracking news and medal counts, with Michael Phelps drawing a huge following, said Ken Willner, CEO of Zumobi, which powered the Lenovo apps. While Windows Mobile and BlackBerry devices had impressive download numbers, apps were most popular among iPhone users.
-- Sherry Mazzochi
Short for "quick response," a QR code is a bar code that allows for high-speed mobile downloads. Depending on their devices, users can scan or photograph QR codes on window displays and print ads to get additional mobile content. QR codes are very popular in Japan and South Korea but have been slow to catch on here.
Users can scan Ralph Lauren's QR codes on print ads and around the U.S. Open grounds (where Ralph Lauren is a sponsor) for easy access to the brand's new mobile commerce site. Users without QR readers can go to the brand's mobile site. They also will be able to watch U.S. Open videos and read tournament news.
-- Sherry Mazzochi
Bank of America, arguably the most aggressive banking institution in mobile, has created mobile-web applications that let users check balances and recent activity, transfer funds, and pay bills. It also created an app that takes advantage of the iPhone's GPS technology to tell people where they can find the nearest ATMs and banks.
"More than 8% of the customers are new to the bank," said Douglas Graham, senior VP-e-commerce at Bank of America Corp. And for existing customers, he said, "it measurably moves satisfaction." The company addressed natural security skepticism with an anti-phishing site key.
-- Abbey Klaassen
FedEx Mobile aims to transform the hand-held device into a mobile mailroom, with the ability to send and track your FedEx packages on the run. The application allows users to process a FedEx Express or FedEx Ground shipment, get rate quotes and transit times, and prepare customized shipping labels for print.
With optimization for Apple's iPhone and iTouch, BlackBerry, Palm, Symbian and Microsoft operating systems, FedEx Corp.'s application has seen a 53% increase in use since its launch last summer, said Russ Fleming, VP-digital access marketing. He credited the app's intuitive design and user-conducive interface.
-- Max Lakin

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