INSIDE MOBILE: Innovations of Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing has now gone mainstream. With over three billion mobile phones now on the market and subscribers carrying them around all day, it's clear that mobile marketing is poised to become the primary focus of marketing professionals in the coming years. Here, Knowledge Center mobile and wireless analyst J. Gerry Purdy outlines the four mobile marketing innovations that are taking mobile marketing to the next level.


Mobile is now being thought of as a major marketing platform alongside print (including billboards), radio and television (broadcasting), and online. You now see billboard and bus ads with "Text 'CAR' to 12345" for information on the latest hot car or many other innovative marketing campaigns. Ads now appear on mobile phones-sometimes as banners and sometimes embedded in a product but not often as a total screen that takes over the phone.

Mobile, however, is now poised to become the most important marketing vehicle of all time. In recognition of the importance of mobile marketing, Frost & Sullivan is doing a substantial amount of research in mobile marketing and mobile payments. Marketing on a mobile device is more personal than any other form of marketing promotion. And it gives the brand doing the promotion a way to track demographics on the behavior of those who respond that no other marketing vehicle is able to do.

In addition, the mobile phone is the only two-way marketing medium that can be fully customized to the subscriber's specific interest and precise location. And the mobile phone is the only device that participates directly in the marketing promotions (coupons to the phone) and the redemption (phone used for loyalty identification and payment).

Here are the four innovations that are taking mobile marketing to the next level:

Innovation No. 1: Near Field Communication (NFC)

You've likely seen the latest generation of credit card payment terminals in major retailers; they have a contactless wireless reader at the top of the terminal. The card or phone contains a radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip much like the one used for highway tolls. With the chip and wallet software, consumers can select which card they want to use on the phone's screen, wand it over the contactless terminal and the purchase is completed. Major players here include ViVOtech, First Data, Visa, MasterCard and the major handset manufacturers.

All it will take for this to enable the mobile phone to replace most credit and debit cards is for leading handset manufacturers such as Apple, Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, RIM, HTC and LG to begin installing the small NFC chip in each phone. That will happen over the next few years.

Innovation No. 2: Mobile as part of integrated marketing campaigns

The use of a mobile phone in marketing campaigns has typically been narrowly focused, such as responding to a short code (for example, voting for our choices in popular shows such as "American Idol" and "Dancing with the Stars"). The latest innovation is to use mobile as part of a broader, integrated marketing campaign so that mobile becomes an accepted vehicle for marketing professionals to use. For example, Coca-Cola might create an integrated campaign that puts short codes in print and on television, uses the mobile for response, and then issues a coupon via the mobile phone that can been redeemed at retail for a discount.

Mobile marketing firms such as Air2Web, iLoopMobile, VeriSign, Singlepoint and others are now working more closely with major advertising and marketing promotion firms to make mobile an integral part of their plans.