Innovation No. 3: Mobile coupons and retail loyalty
Mobile coupons were introduced by Cellfire a few years ago. Now, mobile phones are considered viable to replace paper coupons. They allow digital coupons to be used by major brands that mobile subscribers then retain and redeem at retail. An example would be for a customer to respond to a short code to get a discount off a drink at Starbucks, and the reply would be a bar code that is scanned at the retail counter and the discount applied. The customer gets the discount and, while the brand doing this kind of mobile promotion does see increased sales, it doesn't learn anything about those who redeem the coupon.
Another, more advanced solution has been developed by Zavers Networks. They became the first firm to crack the code with respect to true, real-time measurement and mobile marketing effectiveness. Zavers is working with major retailers and marketing promotions firms to allow the mobile subscribers to instantly find, save and redeem their digital coupons, using both the Web and mobile phones, and then allowing the consumer to use their existing loyalty card (or phone number) to redeem the coupon. This leading technology by Zavers provides the breakthrough of providing a tie between the promotion (to generate increased sales) and the redemption (to provide analytics on the behavior of the buyer).
Additional mobile loyalty programs were recently announced by Tetherball in the United States and Zapa in Europe. Working with ViVOtech, a contactless sticker carrying a loyalty number is added at the back of subscribers' existing phones to associate with the personalized coupons they receive through text messages. Subscribers tap their loyalty sticker-enabled phones near and in store environments, opting in to receive coupons tailored specifically for them. They then tap the phone to redeem coupons for a purchase. This allows information about the purchase (who, where and what) to be collected.
Innovation No. 4: Ad exchanges
Mobile advertising has been around for a few years. One big problem has been the proliferation of mobile advertising firms such as AdMob (recently acquired by Google for $750 million). Now, a new innovation in mobile marketing has come about from firms such as AdMarvel and Mobclix that act as advertising intermediaries or exchanges. Instead of major brands having to go out and negotiate with different mobile ad agencies (which can get quite complex), mobile ad exchanges such as Mobclix allow brands to have one relationship (with the ad exchange) and make media buys based on data segments for each ad network that is participating in the exchange.
From these examples, it's easy to understand that you're going to see more marketing promotions integrated within the mobile phone going forward. And, as I've said in the past, mobile is likely to eventually be the largest media market of all time. Now that Zavers, Tetherball, Zapa and others are working with major brands and retailers, marketing promotions can be tied directly to the purchase-something that has eluded marketing professionals for the past 100 years.
J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D., is the VP and Chief Analyst with the Frost & Sullivan North American Information & Communication Technologies Practice. As a nationally recognized industry authority, he focuses on monitoring and analyzing emerging trends, technologies and market behavior in the mobile computing and wireless data communications industry in North America. Since joining Frost & Sullivan in 2006, Dr. Purdy has been specializing in mobile and wireless devices, wireless data communications and connection to the infrastructure that powers the data in the wireless handheld.
He is author of Inside Mobile & Wireless, which provides industry insights and reaches over 100,000 readers per month. For more than 16 years, Dr. Purdy has been consulting, speaking, researching, networking, writing and developing state-of-the-art concepts that challenge people's mind-sets, and developing new ways of thinking and forecasting in the mobile computing and wireless data arenas. Often quoted, his ideas and opinions are followed closely by thought leaders in the mobile & wireless industry. He has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclosure Statement: From time to time, I may have a direct or indirect equity position in a company that is mentioned in this column. If that situation happens, then I'll disclose it at that time.