“Mobile marketing is not being used to its full potential by marketers,” says Rohit Dadwal, managing director, Mobile Marketing Association, Asia Pacific.

Three aspects of mobile marketing that are causing a buzz right now include:

  • Bluetooth marketing linked to location-based marketing
    This sends highly relevant marketing information to users that are available anytime and everywhere, making both brands as well as users relevant.
  • Phenomenal growth of SMS marketing
    SMS is still the strongest and most valuable tool for marketing, says Dadwal.
  • The opening of the Internet to mobile phones
    This represents huge opportunities to advertisers and there will be a lot of growth here, says Dadwal.

At the same time, there are of course still hurdles to overcome in the mobile space. Key challenges to marketers and the mobile industry are:

  • Understanding what’s best to utilize the medium
  • Working on the whole ecosystem to build a successful measurement
  • Measurement and metrics because as Dadwal says that no regulator or even body is really looking at yet.

Dadwal adds that a key trend he observes right now is that brands are facing a change in perspective, which is resulting in them moving away from ROI but unfortunately, many are not focusing on their return on marketing objectives. “Mobile is a small component in marketing but it is a key aid to marketers and something which MMA is currently working on as well as building awareness on,” he elaborates.

Agencies for one, he says, therefore have a lot of work cut out for them. Explaining this further, he states, “The challenge the agencies are facing at the moment is to add value to mobile marketing campaigns. Many of them still don’t have the expertise and experience here but it is definitely something that they have to focus on.”

Mobile Web 2.0 is already happening and this is facilitating interaction which therefore leads to huge advertising opportunities. New services on mobile will definitely pick up but the key here, Dadwal stresses, is relevant content.  “The technology is here, for example Bluetooth and location-based services, and more innovations will definitely come. 3G is also helping to facilitate the growth of Mobile 2.0 and beyond. A lot of what is happening on the mobile never happened on the PC/Web and Mobile Web 2.0 is definitely a key to the future as it uses the fundamentals of interaction between the device and the human being.”

However, he notes that marketers are only using Mobile Web 2.0 in their marketing strategies in pockets, explaining, “There is a learning curve here as in the case of all medium – some are at the early stage while some are already at the innovation stage. The challenge here is that the growth of the industry is not proportionate to the growth of the number of subscribers but transactions and interactions have already started.  Telcos are already looking at mobile advertising as an additional revenue stream; handset manufacturers are building more tools here and agencies are incorporating mobile as part of clients’ marketing campaigns.”

New services on the mobile, Dadwal says, will pick up but what must never be overlooked is relevant content. “Content has to be made specifically for mobiles and thought must go into what is relevant to mobile users. For example, video news should only be a minute or less while articles for mobiles should preferably be 30 words or less,” he shares.

In the end it all boils down to ensuring a good interaction and good user experience. “Technology has a lot of work to do to ensure this. Developers have to understand the phone is different from other mediums and applications have to be built to address this,” he stresses.
So which companies stand out when it comes to mobile marketing? Dadwal names a few like Coca-Cola, Procter and Gamble, Nike and the Singapore Idol/India Idol franchise. “These companies are all at the frontline of innovation and marketing, and have incorporated mobile marketing and advertising well into their mix, not because they are big brands but because they have a specific vision here,” concludes Dadwal.

With mobile marketing and advertising, it really does seem that it’s a case of to infinity and beyond at the moment.

By Shanti Anne Morais