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Mobile Marketing's Use To Skyrocket

Posted by: Olga Kharif on April 19, 2005

We’ve heard about the advent of mobile marketing (yawn) for years. And yeah, teens could long use short text messaging (SMS) to vote for contestants on ‘American Idol’. A few cosmetics companies sent out a few hundred SMSs advertising their hair products. A synagogue recently sent Sabbath greetings to its members via SMS. Other than that, we haven’t seen much of this much-hyped mobile marketing around. But you wait.

Chances are, mobile marketing will blossom, along with cherry trees, this spring. Paul Cushman, of mobile marketing consultancy M-Qube, tells me of an upcoming campaign that a major beverage maker has slated for May. As part of the campaign, this yet-unnamed company will give away more than 1 million prizes, including Xbox gaming consoles and 200,000 ringtones. To me, this campaign is an indication that mobile marketing is about to enter the big league, until now occupied by TV, newspaper and online ads. The fact that the campaign uses ringtones could also be hinting at an advent of mobile multimedia advertising.

Up till now, most of the wireless promotions out there - they were mostly pilots and trials -- involved short-text messaging. And yes, teens use SMS a lot. But in this rich-media world, text is rather boring. Soon, however, I think, we might actually start seeing multimedia promotions, involving photos, audio and video.

I am imagining a world in which consumers can wirelessly download free music video clips, offering them a sneak preview of a favorite artist's upcoming concert. The users would be able to purchase advanced tickets over their phones. Kids might watch cartoons in which Barney goes on an adventure - and pitches his favorite drink.

Better yet, such multimedia promotions could be highly interactive: A cell phone user might respond to questions a cartoon character asks to earn points that can go toward the purchase of a particular product. Or, several mobile customers might be playing a graphics-rich game with one another while an ad from the game's sponsor is displayed prominently in the background.

As cell phones get more horsepower, higher resolution screens and better graphics, I think mobile marketing can get really creative.

Of course, many issues, such as standards for mobile TV, are yet to be worked out to make such multimedia ads cost-effective, says Cushman. Still, there are way more cell phones out there than PCs. And if marketers have figured out how to make online advertising work, they can sure make this media work to their best advantage as well.

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Reader Comments

Klem Kolar

May 11, 2005 10:22 AM

Has anyone taken a look at MessageBuzz ( They are helping small to midsize businesses bring down the price of mobile marketing in the US. Looks interesting.


Andrew Cardoza

April 29, 2006 04:10 PM

Mobile Marketing campaigns are still used in a highly fragmented way by a limited number of advertisers. As a technical company the challenge is to make it as easy as possible for marketeers to get their SMS marketing campaign up and running with the minimum of intervention (off the shelf or online tools), see statistics on a day to day basis to track their campaign, the ability to chop and change their campaign at will.

We believe the success lies in addressing all media types (printed, radio, TV, online) where a single SMS campaign can cover all media (and not only limited to multimedia but on the access methods as well - how the media is transferred, and how the media is accessed).

We are about to launch our hypertic services where rich mobile content can be delivered in a number of ways depending on marketing budget.

Al Sajoo

May 5, 2006 03:41 PM

This Canadian Company has just launched their mobile couponing campaign, they're calling them "Moupons".

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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