Marketers must leverage the unique aspects of mobile

As mobile marketing meanders through its early stages, experts say that busi­nesses should learn to take advantage of the unique platform it offers, rather than transposing marketing methods from other channels onto it.

“Mobile is trying to find its way at the moment. I don’t know if it’s in its infancy stages yet,” said Chris Couch, COO of Transverse, a provider of open source business services.

Couch believes that marketers have not yet fully realized the potential of mobile, and have too often treated it as an exten­sion of Internet marketing.

“The mobile platform is not the Internet platform,” he said. “It is a unique market­ing platform — it’s not just search and banner ads.”

For example, Couch continued, “mobile has capabilities related to location and using real-time advertising. A business can pick a specific locale and target the demographics that are most attractive to them.”

Also, using mobile allows marketers to gather a significant amount of informa­tion about a consumer and make a highly targeted offer.

“A marketer can build a database of usage that they can use to look for pat­terns around your physical location,” Couch said.

Many mobile users are receptive to receiving marketing messages on their phones in return for discounts to their monthly service bill, he continued.

Transverse conducted a study of 810 wireless subscribers age 18 to 65 in July, and 56% of respondents said they would view ads on their phones if they were given a 25% to 50% discount on their monthly bill.

Younger users age 18 to 25, who are more apt to text, were among the most willing to trade the number of text mes­sages sent/received while audiences 26-44 years of age, who are more apt to talk, were most willing to trade voice usage for discounted services.

Of those surveyed, 46% said that a 25% to 50% discount on their monthly bill was enough of an incentive to provide access to their usage patterns, including brows­ing, e-mail and texting habits, as well as location ? but not personal information such as the content of texts and e-mails.

Further, in a time of a slow economy and uncertain financial future, more com­panies are embracing mobile as a cost-effective marketing channel.

“CMOs and marketers in many verti­cals are looking to less expensive options for reaching consumers, and they’re turn­ing to the targeted and personal medium of mobile, which is gaining in traction and industry acceptance,” says Eric Holmen, president of SmartReply, a provider of voice and mobile marketing services.

The facts back him up: Mobile advertis­ing spend in the US is projected to break $1 billion for the first time in 2008, and surpass $7.5 billion by 2013.

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