In the rush to "do something mobile," brands gloss over -- or completely miss -- nuances and details that are crucial to executing effective campaigns. The allure of the medium is understandable, as marketers recognize the consumer connections that they have long craved: highly interactive, access during any part of the day and multiple creative media. However, using the same playbook for digital buying from 1997 just won't cut it. The mobile web environment has significant differences in capabilities and usage from the traditional online world. The same is true regarding the tracking and analytics critical to making an ad buy.
Smart campaigns understand the opportunities and limitations of mobile, and engage the consumer by leveraging the uniqueness of the media and their own marketing assets.
The web in the palm of your hand, sort of
Many advertisers create mobile websites, often referred to as "WAP sites," to offer consumers access to their brand directly from their mobile phones. Despite the proliferation of smartphones like the BlackBerry, Windows Mobile devices and iPhones -- especially in the business world -- around 90 percent of the U.S. market carries "dumbphones." Comparatively, this vast majority of handsets have simplified software, including specially created, rudimentary web browsers. They do not use Flash. They can not accept cookies. In fact, most traditional websites will not even open in these browsers. Instead, consumers attempting to visit these sites are met with error messages and oddly formatted pages.
Despite these limitations, more than 50 million U.S. consumers use this new platform regularly, from the device already in their pocket. Thus, brands need to meet the needs of this rapidly growing audience, and they need to be smarter about how they go about it.
Mobile, at its best
A well-crafted mobile site re-thinks what a consumer will need in a mobile environment. It addresses the consumer's screen as a non-adapting two-inch viewer, as opposed to the 21-inch monitor that is used with a PC. Further, good mobile developers take into account the limitations of wireless download speeds and the single size and style font that displays on the handset.
For example, a movie chain's mobile website should let a consumer access theater locations, movie times and shortened cast lists, all from his or her Nokia 6085. It does not need to present The New York Times' 1,300-word review and a graphically intense page for each movie. This adjustment, away from long accepted online practices, meets the consumer's instant gratification need and supplies a valuable service in the process.
The best mobile websites further take advantage of the key attributes of the mobile phone itself, which set it apart from the PC. These sites can enable branded text messaging for "viral" tactics, and have click-to-call options -- which utilize the primary purpose of any phone -- to drive direct sales opportunities. They can offer direct mobile downloads of images, sounds and ringtones and applications and games, which can extend the reach and life of a media buy. For example, the Warner Bros. movie, "One Missed Call," had a successful mobile website that offered consumers exclusive access to the ringtone that was central to the plot, unique cast wallpapers that doubled as mini-billboards and access to a specially-cut mobile trailer. This environment directly correlated to the brand of the film, which clearly resonated with consumers who drove the exceptionally high traffic.
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