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Best New Thinking Winner 2010

Craft Topics – Going Mobile

Going Mobile

  • Overview
  • Goody Box – of giveaways and reviews
  • What it means if you work in marketing communications


This is an attempt to provide some stimulus and some resources on the implications of mobile communications. There are some books to get you going that you can link to – a copy of Wired magazine (if you’re quick) with a guide to wireless computing. An article on dos and don’ts for SMS (text) marketing on mobile phones with a chance to preorder a whole book on the subject of SMS and its successor MMS by its author. I’ve also just invested in the form of a PDA at long last and to put in a wireless access point at home which means that it is possible to use a computer or surf the net anywhere in the house or garden. And for the next few months I will be keeping a diary on going mobile – much as I have been on broadband. But why? Is this yet another excuse of a techie rant by a planner with a predilection for working on IT accounts?

Well I hope not. While there are might be some mileage in a debate on whether surrounding oneself with pagers, PDAs and mobiles is makes for super productivity my interest is how all this is going to affect communications – since the lion’s share of communications budgets is still tethered to mass consumption in home. Another challenge is that there is every indication of a digital divide which means that budgets are likely to be stretched even more using conventional media to reach the laggards and these newer forms of communications to reach the early adopters. Remember that despite the apparent ubiquity of the internet half of UK households still DON’T have access.

Breaking it down

  • mobiles which have an adult penetration over 80%: that takes in SMS,MSM, WAP/GPRS (no comment) plus up and coming 3G
  • PDAs: Palms and Pocket PCs
  • Laptops and the new tablet PCs
  • GPS devices for finding where you are or finding what’s near you
  • Bluetooth and wifi wireless protocols
  • Sentient devices

GPS – Now you may think that GPS is for company chairmen to use in their Mercs as they thunder down the motorway but in Japan there are over half a million GPS requests a day for services based on location – where’s the nearest cinema and so on. In Japan on certain networks if your friend is late you can use GPS to find our where they are and how long its going to take before they reach you.

WIFI – If you haven’t heard about wifi then its time you did – set to totally upset the 100 billion 3G auction which hobbled the mobile companies with massive debts when they bid for a piece of the action. Wifi enables wireless communication with phones and computing devices at a range of 100 metres indoors and 500 metres outdoors from an access point. At the end of April 2003 Westminster council announced that Soho is going wireless and they will pay for it. That means that anyone in Soho will be able to surf the net, check email – make IP phonecalls and communicate with one another absolutely free – a very good reason for choosing to work or relax in Soho rather than elsewhere in the West End – but a nightmare for telephone companies who thought they could make a fortune charging us to do exactly the same thing with 3G phones. And all of the gear to do this is on the market now. And it costs £10s rather than hundreds of pounds. Like the world wide web it decentralises power away from the consortia – once you have access to all this then no one can really control what you do with it. Expect all city centres to be wireless within the next 2-3 years.

Bluetooth – is another wireless standard for linking devices within a range of up to 10 metres. Which means if your bluetooth phone rings in your backpack you can answer it with your headset.

Sentient Devices – Coca cola vending machines were among the first so they could reorder when they were empty. There’s a lot more now: cars that book services and order emergency services in the event of a collision, fridges that know what’s in them. Past 2005 there will be more machines than people communicating via the internet. And wireless chips are being built into these now. Expect home entertainment to go wifi within months.

So here’s a box of goodies to to get your teeth into. And if you still have the patience then scroll down underneath where I summarise why the next phase of going mobile after the mass adoption of the mobile phone is set to change the communications landscape out of all recognition.

THE GOODY BOX FREE DOWNLOAD – Mobile Marketing article by russell(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign) who has a book Using Mobile Messaging coming out FREE DOWNLOAD – Using SMS as a research technique by steve(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)">Steve Watkins of 2CVPub. Admap Mar 2003 Wired Magazine May 2003 – Introduction to Wireless. Buy it or read it here! Smart Mobs by Howard Rheingold – reviewed on the Recent Reads page where you can buy it Beyond Mobile by Mats Lindgren, Jorgen Jedbratt and Erika Svenson – reviewed on the Recent Reads page where you can buy it russell(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)">Preorder Russell Buckley’s book Using Mobile Messaging SMS, EMS and MMS – there will be a review here soon!

Why Mobile Comms is significant if you work in marketing communications

  • Mobile comms reaches people where they are. Another nail in the coffin for mass distributed media which drops advertising onto newsstands, TVs, and radios. Why sell to a household or a demographic when you can sell to an individual? The direct mail piece and telesales needs a fixed address. Until now the internet has needed a computer in the home or the workplace. And yes selling 1 to 1 needs different rules – conventional advertising down a personal channel comes across as crass and obtrusive so we’ll need new ones. Advertising creatives please take note! And read Steve Watkin’s piece to see how one research agency 2CV is already using SMS
  • Mobile comms is the only personal comms channel involving push AND pull. Read Russell Buckley’s article to see how you can do sales promotion using a mobile. People will use these devices to pull information and offers wherever they happen to be. Until now the internet and the telephone have been the only communication channels which both parties can use to interact – but linked to fixed addresses. Digital TV and radio is also starting to open this up.
  • Like direct mail this kind of communications is measurable. It is worth pondering how in the last 10 years direct mail is the only part of the communications business which has shown growth every year. And measurability has a lot to do with this. Expect a further move of budgets to measurable communications from less measurable ones.
  • Location specific communications – did you know that Virgin have a log of the location and time of every phone call made on their network since 2001. Wouldn’t it be great if we could match the to the postcode of the mobile owner and do some demographic analysis? And aren’t you glad you’re not a data protection official? There some real issues about civil liberties here but that aside it means that we can measure the value of a given location based on who has been there at a given time. Field marketers please note! And there have been a number of experiments where if you give permission you can receive text messages of offers from shops and leisure locations you are walking past. And most curiously in Japan if your details match that of a potential partner – both your mobiles go off with a unique dial tone!
  • Time specific communications – well telesales isn’t bad at this and of course we have drivetime radio. But combined with location (see next) we can frame much more relevant offers – this should be enough to push retailers over the brink. Theoretically with EPOS it’s possible to have happy hours where price promotions can be switched on to encourage drive time purchase – but at present retailers haven’t bothered. Timed offers to the mobiles of people in the vicinity are likely to be much more powerful than price offers sprayed at random. And for considered purchases, once you know what they’re planning to buy you can start to send messages at time when you know they’re probably thinking about it.
  • New players new landscape – at present it isn’t at all clear who the big players are going to be in this landscape. Hint – it probably isn’t going to be the conglomerates who own the infrastructure. There’s a chapter in Beyond Mobile that covers the options as new middlemen start to offer content and take over the relationship with the endconsumer. Don’t expect a nice tidy market of media you can book. You’ll have to make up your own content and distribute it to get customers. How are you going to do this?
  • Why won’t they pay attention to me? This is one of the crunch question which Howard Rheingold raises in his book Smart Mobs. The point is while people are engaging with personal devices they have less time for media which are aimed at groups or households.



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