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Monday, September 15, 2014

Mobile, The New Out of Home Medium

These days mobile advertising is hot. The growth rate of mobile is a bit hard to track but it appears to be clobbering all other media types year to year. In spite of that, some advertisers and some small to mid-sized agencies are afraid to take the plunge. Others say that they tried it a few years ago, it did not work, so they have written it off as a consideration for 2015 media plans.

To me, part of the reason that people failed is that they did not know how to use mobile. Yet, they will need to and very soon. Facebook has reported that the average person uses their phone 100+ times per day (when I watch my students before and after class, it has to be higher for an under 30 demographic). This is where they are spending their time even when they are allegedly watching TV. No one leaves their home without their phone. They may forget ID or even a wallet but phones are now as ubiquitous as car keys. Missing people who are heavy mobile users is increasingly creating a big hole in any advertiser’s reach potential.

So mobile is now very clearly, to me, an out of home medium. We need to recognize it as such. Advertisers large and small are using it very successfully. For example, I was in a small local restaurant a few months ago and they had a five digit text code on tent cards on each table. You could review the service and the owner would get instant feed-back. If you participated, you were given a 20% coupon for a future meal. This was a great way for a  small player to get inexpensive research and promote at the same time. Others are adding mobile activation to menus or even small ads in suburban newspapers.

A friend in Texas sent me an e-mail recently that was fascinating. “I took my two sons to a Rangers game at the Ballpark at Arlington. The game plan was that it was going to be an expensive afternoon. I was prepared to buy a Rangers jersey for each of the boys favorite player. Well, we went up twice to get the jerseys and the line was long and the boys told me that they were missing the game. Then, as an ad guy, it hit me. They had my e-mail and phone number as I had bought the tickets on line. Why did they not have an app where they could reach me in the stadium and I could order the jerseys between innings without leaving our seats?” I found my friend’s comments interesting.

The next day I was reading Michael Dru Kelley’s new book, ALL THUMBS, Mobile Marketing That Works (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).  He had a remarkably similar story about taking his son and friends to a concert and discussed how a two way exchange with concert goers would be great for the sponsor.

It would seem that mobile could be a great sales or marketing tool at many live venues. Been to a ball game lately? How many people are busy with their phones during a game? It is stunning to watch.

How about putting simple codes on old fashioned billboards? Or, with geo-targeting getting feedback on a great or poor retail experience. Those who participate get a  nice % off coupon and the few disgruntled customers get quick feedback which may turn a customer around a great deal.

For years, media planners have boasted that they craft strategies that reach people on the go. If mobile is not a real part of that mix, they have to be regarded as primitives today.

If you would like to reach Don Cole directly, you may reach him at doncolemedia@gmail.com

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