Oleksiy Makhmutor, a fisherman who trawls the sub-Antarctic and sells his catch to McDonald’s Corp. (MCD:US), is joining Filet-O-Fish fans at tables across Australia as the world’s largest restaurant chain introduces diners to the folks who supply its beef, fish and buns.
McDonald’s “Track My Macca’s” iPhone application in Australia, where locals refer to the chain as “Macca’s,” lets users scan Big Mac, Filet-O-Fish and Chicken McNuggets boxes to track where the ingredients came from and learn more about the suppliers, such as the fact that Makhmutor has been fishing since he was 13 and loves life on the trawler deck.
As portable screens get bigger and networks become faster, advertising is migrating from the desktop to devices on the go. The free McDonald’s app is part of a new generation of mobile marketing that’s more engaging than simple banner ads and pop-ups. They’re attracting eyeballs through apps, interactive billboards, digital window displays and sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
“Mobile advertising is going to be huge and the majority of our traditional Internet business will migrate to mobile,” said Paul Gunning, chief executive officer of Omnicom Group Inc.’s Tribal DDB Worldwide unit, the New York digital ad shop that created the McDonald’s app.
As the world’s advertising community gathers on the French Riviera at the annual Cannes Lions industry event this week, mobile campaigns will be high on the agenda among the glitzy parties, yachts and attention-grabbing ad stunts. Actor Jack Black spoke on a Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO:US) panel on personalizing content today, and photographer Annie Leibovitz will appear tomorrow for a talk on “iconic storytelling.”
Mobile advertising will jump to $47.2 billion worldwide by the end of 2016, from $8.8 billion in 2012, according to New York-based researcher eMarketer.
Facebook, the world’s largest social network, said mobile ads made up 30 percent of its $1.46 billion in revenue in the first quarter, up from 23 percent in the last three months of 2012. At Google Inc. (GOOG:US)’s YouTube, mobile ads tripled in six months and made up some $350 million in sales, the company said this month. EMarketer predicts that Twitter will get more than 60 percent of its estimated worldwide ad revenue of $1.33 billion in 2015 from mobile ads.
“Track My Macca’s” may remove “some confusion about just how real our food is,” according a McDonald’s promo video. The app -- introduced in January -- was downloaded more than 20,000 times in its first week and uses the Global Positioning System in phones, plus time, date and scanned codes to access McDonald’s supply chain.
“Every campaign we do now for McDonald’s has mobile advertising and that wasn’t the case 18 months ago,” Gunning said. Tribal is also testing a McDonald’s app in France called “GoMcDo,” so users can place orders before arriving at a restaurant. Tribal handles advertising for McDonald’s in 40 countries and gets about 20 percent of its revenue from mobile work, he said.
The company also built a flu-tracker app for Pfizer Inc. (PFE:US), so Robitussin cough-medicine users can track flu activity in the U.S. and locate shops selling Robitussin products. Based on data showing which areas of the U.S. are most affected, Pfizer could then place more media and promotions, Gunning said.
“The PC is about productivity and Word documents, Excel, but the iPad and the phone give out entertainment where you watch videos and engage socially,” said Greg Stuart, chief executive officer of the Mobile Marketing Association.
A Johnson & Johnson (JNJ:US) campaign linked its Band-Aid adhesive strips for children to a “Magic Vision” app. With so-called augmented-reality software, Walt Disney Co.’s Muppet characters such as Miss Piggy came to life on screen when an iPad or iPhone hovered over a bandage. Among the interactive features, users could manipulate video of Kermit the Frog sitting on a swing and singing by tilting their phone or tablet.
Omnicom’s TBWA Worldwide division created a mobile campaign for sporting-goods maker Adidas AG in Germany, featuring an interactive window and allowing users to pose digital mannequins and put clothing into virtual shopping bags for purchase.
TBWA also worked with McDonald’s in China to develop “Angry Birds” games that could be played in restaurants, resulting in a 20 percent increase in visits, said Vaino Leskinen, director of mobile labs at the ad agency.
“Mobile is bringing in capabilities that aren’t just about the size of the screen, but the functionality of the device, data and location,” said Francisco Cordero of InMobi, a Bangalore, India-based digital advertiser whose customers include Unilever, Nokia Oyj and Volkswagen AG’s Audi unit. Cordero, general manager for Australia and New Zealand, will move to New York after Cannes to handle brand sales for North America.
InMobi’s research shows that the type of smartphone a person uses may determine how open they are to advertising. Owners of Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) iPhones are more accepting of entertainment and media, while people with BlackBerry phones tend to be more business focused and concerned with data, according to the company.
“People we see are also coming back to Samsung and being a lot more comfortable there with media,” Cordero said.
Another area of growth is in the use of second screens, so a person watching TV may also be surfing the Web on a smartphone or tablet, possibly on a social site relating to the program. An estimated 95 percent of TV viewers with a smartphone or tablet use the device while watching the tube at least once a month, and 40 percent do so daily, according to a 2012 Nielsen study.
“Advertisers are recognizing that they can add to the value of TV campaigns by engaging with social media,” said Brian Wieser, a media analyst at New York-based Pivotal Research Group.
Even so, Wieser attributes much of mobile’s rapid growth to Facebook and Google, which he said account for more than 70 percent of online spending, and a large proportion of that is reallocated advertising expenditure that used to be targeted at desktop users.
“It’s a bit of a distorted perception of the growth of mobile,” he said. “There is definitely growth there, but maybe not quite the story you’re led to believe.”
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