The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) has just announced their repositioning to create additional membership benefits and enhance effectiveness to meet the changing face of mobile marketing. “In its formative years, the MMA placed great emphasis on helping build a global industry, creating standards and guidelines to support the growth of a new industry,” said Federico Pisani Massamormile, MMA’s Global Board Chairman and Interim CEO.

“In many ways, the need to act as evangelists for the mobile channel has evolved into a need to get brands and agencies to increase spend on a channel they’re now aware of, marketers understand the need to include mobile in their plans, but still need support to find the right role for mobile in the marketing mix. We aim to make mobile an indispensable part of everyone’s marketing mix.”

The newly repositioned MMA will now concentrate its efforts on what it believes to be the five building blocks of the industry:
  • Promote the channel, the industry and individual member companies to brands and agencies in order to create more commercial opportunities for its members, demonstrating that membership creates a competitive advantage for companies.
  • Educate brands, agencies and consumers about the full scale and scope of the mobile marketing channel, highlighting its advantages and benefits.
  • Measure by creating and developing authoritative measurements and metrics while providing insights into the size, growth, trends and effectiveness of mobile marketing.
  • Guide by continuing to create and develop guidelines, best practices and standards designed to ease the planning, purchasing and implementation of mobile marketing.
  • Protect our opportunities by representing the industry before regulators and legislators and by managing industry self-regulatory programs to maximize public and industry confidence in mobile marketing, lowering barriers to entry and minimizing non-economic costs of doing business.

Mobile devices are becoming more and more popular as an advertising channel with the number of advertisers and campaigns increasing significantly in the last year. According to Rohit Dadwal, Managing Director of Mobile Marketing Association Asia Pacific, the first quarter of 2010 showed a positive trend for mobile campaigns, as several new industries joined the mobile market. While the lifestyle industry was first, the automotive, telecommunications, and media service industries have now started to actively use the mobile channel - of course with good reasons - especially in Asia.

Mobile marketing success in Asia: a sure thing

With a population of more than 3.8 billion people, a mobile population of 2.27 billion and a mobile Internet population of 432.65 million, it is expected that by the end of 2010 the number of mobile Internet users across the whole of Asia will expand by 168.54 million, taking the total number in the region to 592.19 million users. For any company involved in advertising this represents an astonishing opportunity to deliver display-based campaigns for brands.

While developed Western markets usually have high expectations regarding access, speed and reach, the majority of mobile users in developing countries are still accessing content over 2G networks that painfully restrict the potential of delivering a rich-media mobile experience to consumers. With 3G or alternative wireless broadband access technologies just around the corner, if not already implemented, the future for mobile marketing looks rosy indeed. Regardless of the access, mobile Internet already has a massive audience across Asia, not to mention that it is the continent with the largest growth potential with only 16% of the population having mobile access!

Rohit believes that the mobile marketing and advertising industry in Asia is close to about $2 billion dollars, whereas the majority of that money actually comes from Japan and Korea, which are the most advanced Asian markets. He explains: “In developing markets, messaging makes the majority of the advertising dollar, I would say close to about 50%. In developed markets, however, it is the mobile web that drives revenue.” He believes that the mobile industry will be worth around $14 to 15 billion dollars in about five years time, taking into consideration that the global advertising industry is expected to make about $415 billion dollars.

Reaching consumers in Asia through mobile channels

According to Rohit, MMA’s Asia Pacific expert, while mobile marketing enjoys no more than 10% of the advertising spent right now, he expects this to change soon. “The reason why it will change is because PC penetration is very low. In some markets it is less than one percent. In the same market the mobile penetration is 60 – 70%”, he states and emphasizes further “These are the consumers the brands and marketers have never been able to reach but wanted to and therefore mobile advertising dollars will very soon surpass PC internet advertising dollars in Asia.” As an example he added: “In 2008 India had spent about $500,000 dollars on mobile advertising, today they are close to about $25 million dollars - a 5,000% increase in just two years!”
Rohit also believes that in another three to five years mobile will get a bigger part of the advertising budget, pointing out that the Internet is almost 20 years old now, while mobile is just a three year old business. Considering that fact, the success of the mobile medium is quite impressive, as it is already enjoying a 20 to 25% revenue share with the further prospect of subscribers getting used to mobile advertising.
MMA’s Asia Pacific MD Rohit expressed hope that the ecosystem - the brands, agencies and publishers – come together as an integrated business solution instead of a simple sale of technology. That’s the tipping point he claims and adds, “I personally believe, the tipping point is now”. “There is no other medium that can be used to reach such a huge amount of consumers. It is the most interactive and targetable medium, which can be measured on an individual basis. It’s a medium that can enable both CRM and a relationship with the brand. It’s innovative and most importantly it is not sitting in isolation. It truly represents 360 degrees of marketing. Whether you do your TV, print, or outdoor ads, you can use the mobile device as a medium to get an immediate response from consumers, as it is an interactive element that’s not separate from any other medium”, he says.

New types of interactive marketing delivered by advanced technology and innovations

As mobile devices provide continuously creative opportunities to keep on innovating, there will probably always be something new on the market. Just remember the recent launch of the iPad, which gives us a new dimension and new advertising form to play with. Now the limitation of having a small screen belongs to the past, it had improved already with the iPhones and Smartphones which have bigger screens than the traditional feature phones, but the iPad’s innovation and creativity will require associations like MMA to adapt their guidelines around the clock.

“As an association we believe it’s an ongoing process. We are already publishing advertising guidelines which we update every three months. We will continue do these updates and I don’t see an end anywhere in the near future”, Rohit affirms, explaining further: “Three years ago, there was no iPhone so there were no applications - now we have guidelines on applications. Two years ago there was no gaming - now we have gaming and we have applications and guidelines and best practices all around that. A few weeks back we didn’t have the iPad - now we have it and therefore we will prepare advertising standards and guidelines on that platform too. Technology and solution providers will continue to offer creative support and come up with innovative solutions, providing marketers and their consumers with targeted advertisements.”

Mobile location-based advertising: the future driver in mobile advertising

The dream of all marketers is the ability to reach consumers when the offer is most appreciated and today many industry players are counting on location-based advertising (LBA), a new form of advertising that uses location-tracking technology in mobile networks, to target consumers with location-specific advertising on their mobile devices.

According to Rohit, “Mobile LBA is one of the key drivers of the industry, but what’s really required for its breakthrough is content. Today the one thing that’s missing on LBA is the relevant content, so that you can map that content to the location that you are providing the service. That is the investment that needs to happen from content providers and publishers to become more and more effective”, he says. The mobile phone provides completely new and engaging ways to reach consumers and location is certainly one of the best targeting mechanisms to find and recruit consumers. Rohit reminds us: “Successful innovations depend on consumer preferences; therefore you need to abide by consumer privacy, permission-based marketing and security. If we don’t, we will sadly damage LBA as we did with SMS by creating a new form of spamming”. He states further: “Consumers don’t hate advertising. They love it as long as it is relevant and targeted.” Traditional marketers are looking at location-based services (LBS) from a mapping navigation perspective, Rohit believes that it will go beyond that, namely “to a service level, where the content is generated based on the use of preferences.”

Augmented reality is now: virtual world meets reality

Rohit expects augmented reality to converge with location on top of applications, into a messaging platform, with the key driver for that convergence being content. Content could be information, service, downloadable content, search-related content, or just a service on game application. All are new innovations using mobile as a device to help facilitate that innovation. “Now you can have that on a location based service, e.g. an augmented reality application running when you enter a Nike shop that shows an ad or a discount coupon. That’s merging augmented reality to location-based services” and Rohit believes that the convergence of all these services will be the key driver for the growth of the industry which has spent a lot of time, effort and energy over the past four to five years to achieve this goal.

Mobile search: another key driver

The way we know how search on the PC and the mobile web happens today will definitely evolve in future. Most probably you search for a restaurant or hotel when travelling, so location based relevance is the stimulus, which increases with the ease that smart phones and iPhones provide. Simply put, mobile search is not just a shift of PC based web search to mobile devices, but more a transformation into treelike branches of specialized mobile broadband and mobile content segments which will enjoy a fast-paced evolution. In some mature markets the local relevance is already very high as there is a wealth of good content. In the emerging markets and Asia, a lot of search actually happens through messaging, not the traditional mobile web service that we know, or the traditional search that we know from Google, Yahoo!, or others. According to Rohit, messaging will continue to be the key element for people to find contacts and services and be another key driver of the industry’s future breakthroughs.

Mobile metrics and measurements of ad campaigns

Mobile metrics and measurements are the hottest topic right now as they still pose a challenge to the industry. “The lack of mobile metrics and standards respectively is the reason why the big money isn’t coming in and why big companies and brands are not spending their dollars”, Rohit claims. “The reason that holds the industry back is the fact that it is neither possible to quantify and measure campaigns on mobile nor compare mobile to the other traditional media that has built-up research metrics and analytics over the past 30 to 40 years.”

“If I were a brand manager at Coca Cola today, it wouldn’t be possible to analyze the performance of my mobile campaign versus my print campaign versus my TV campaign, as I don’t have the metrics identified yet”, Rohit elaborates. “However”, he says, “a lot of work is going on at MMA”, which is working on measurement metrics guidelines together with industry bodies like the IAB, GSMA, and research companies like Nielsen or comScore. “We have already identified the key metrics measures”, he declares proudly, knowing that it will keep evolving as it has been with advertising guidelines, especially when taking into consideration the metrics across the market ecosystem.

MMA, as an industrial body, does not represent any particular verticals’ interests. “We are not a telco body, brand body, or agency, but telcos, brands, agencies, publishers, handset manufacturers, and technology providers are our members” Rohit explains, “but when you work on an ecosystem which spans so broadly, you need to make sure everybody understands each other’s metrics to be able to measure those metrics at the same level. A simple solution is needed rather than the very technology-orientated metrics, which brands don’t understand, agencies don’t understand, consumers don’t understand. It’s about identifying what those measures are and putting them into practice on a self- regulated-basis. The numbers, however, have to be big enough to be interesting to the major players and to drive standardization of metrics”, Rohit elaborated.

The Six Cs of mobile marketing

Mobile marketers must ensure relevance, engagement, interaction, and most importantly respect from the consumer to be truly successful, Rohit once said and I wanted to know from him, if he sees businesses in Asia Pacific really following his advice.
He mentioned immediately the “6 C’s” of mobile marketing which Mike Wehrs, President/CEO of the Mobile Marketing Association once came up with. All in all it states that brands and advertisers must be able to provide positive and valuable experiences. If consumers don’t truly buy into and understand the rules of engagement for the messages and marketing programs they’re receiving, chances are high that they press the delete button without even looking at the content.

Brands using mobile as a marketing channel have to make sure that they deliver messages that consumers believe are positive, highly relevant, somewhat entertaining and of specific value to them individually.

The trick would be to know how to build and develop this level of trust, and to develop a true dialogue of interaction with customers. Not to mention that marketers have to make customers aware of all the policing mechanisms in place to ensure that the mobile marketing experience they receive is a positive one.

Most of all, marketers need to move away from traditional push - or interruption-based - advertising and adopt the six central tenets of a positive consumer experience: choice, control, customization, consideration, constraint and confidentiality, which form the basis of the Mobile Marketing Association’s global Code of Conduct and Consumer Best Practices. Rohit emphasizes again that “brands trying to reach consumers via mobile should make sure their communications are interesting, relevant, valuable and, above all, requested.” Thank you!

By Daniela La Marca