Moving Targets: Mobile Marketing Reaches Consumers on Their Terms
By Lynn Thorne
Imagine you’re about to meet a blind date for drinks. On the way to the restaurant you realize you’re short on cash. You don’t know your way around the city too well – how will you find the nearest ATM? The answer is as convenient as glancing at your cell phone.
Or you’re driving to meet a new client and you have just enough time to make the meeting. Suddenly your phone sounds an alert letting you know there’s a traffic jam ahead – just in time for you to take an alternate route and arrive on time.
Perhaps you live in an area where severe weather outbreaks are the norm. You get a message on your phone urging you to take cover, as you are smack in the path of an oncoming twister. Did a concerned co-worker call you with the warning? No, The Weather Channel Interactive sent you an urgent message on your handset.
To some these stories sound like science fiction, but to a growing number of those in the know, these are the proven, and very real abilities of mobile marketing and advertising. And while consumers have been using SMS, or short messaging service, for years, the future of mobile is about to take off faster than you can text “ASAP.”
Wide Open World
Mobile marketing and mobile advertising have been flourishing in other parts of the world since the early part of this century. In Japan, for instance, two factors uniquely helped the explosive growth of this industry: networks and teamwork. Ironically, those same two factors are part of what has delayed mobile commerce in the U.S.
“The penetration of broadband wireless, which is 70 to 80 percent in Japan, is only about 20 percent in the U.S.,” says to industry analyst Chetan Sharma,president of CSC, a consulting and advisory firm helping companies in the mobile and voice communications sector. Sharma points out that in Japan and Korea, mobile carriers and the advertising industry have collaborated and joined ventures to form companies to address mobile marketing and advertising. “But in the U.S.,” Sharma says, “carriers have their own strategy, and advertisers have their own strategy. They’re not working together.”