How to Score in the World Cup
With this summers soccer World Cup just 25 days away from kick off, Jay Seaton, Chief Marketing Officer at Airwide Solutions, looks at the potential it offers for mobile marketing activity
The 2006 football World Cup will kick off a flurry of branded marketing activities, as millions of consumers (representing almost every demographic) spend most of the month of June glued to their TV sets. While television will be the primary viewing medium, however, TV is potentially being sent to the sidelines in terms of World Cup advertising.
Traditionally, huge sporting events are one of the television industrys cash cows. But this year, the major channels are anticipating a downturn, as brands abandon conventional advertising in droves. ITVs commercial director, Ian McCulloch, even reportedly threatened that if advertisers dont support the World Cup we wont even bother [showing matches] again.
But how is it that the worlds greatest sporting event fails to pull in the advertising revenue needed to keep the worlds best loved medium ticking over? Industry watchers believe the cause of the decline in TV ad spend is the trend towards newer, more direct forms of marketing activity, such as email and mobile marketing. Last year, growth in UK online marketing was so dramatic that it drove the growth of the entire media market, while traditional advertising media fell by almost 200m (source: IAB).
And early this month, Mercedes-Benz announced that it now plans to divert the large part of its annual 3m TV spend into direct marketing, focusing on e-mail and SMS. The company hopes these routes will deliver more return on investment by driving customers into showrooms in larger numbers.
Mercedes certainly isnt alone. For some time, the major brands have been taking a greater interest in direct marketing, and are being increasingly picky about how they talk to their target audience. As the traditional large-scale media audience fragments, sporting events remain one of the few opportunities of reuniting an audience. But even here, the route to their minds and pockets is about to undergo a fundamental re-direction. And it looks set to be through their handsets.
This could in part be due to the more attractive proposition that mobile marketing offers. Contrary to other forms of direct marketing even email marketing SMS and MMS marketing is highly targeted and only executed on an opt-in basis. This reduces the likelihood of misfired text messages arriving on the customers phones. Most mobile marketing is, due to its very nature, relevant and targeted. And for this reason, it provides much higher positive response rates than traditional advertising.
The key to a lasting relationship between a brand and its customers is the elusive personal touch and, with mobile marketing, every campaign can be given the feeling of a tailored sales pitch. Text and MMS messaging make direct marketing even more personal. After all, with our growing attachment to our mobile phones, its natural to assume that, as the crowds gather to bay at the national teams this summer, their mobile phones will be close at hand, and ready to receive targeted advertising.
And the technology now exists to roll that message delivery out on an unprecedented level. Airwide Solutions is already providing its customers with the ability to package multiple variants of the same application-to-person (A2P) message. This is essential for broadcast messages going to a large number of recipients. After all, with so many handset models out there, theres no one-size-fits-all solution to messaging your audience. And as the market grows, the technology needed to intelligently manage communication with such a wide variety of handsets will also increase.
In terms of global markets, the opportunities abound. There are now 380m mobile phone subscribers in Western Europe, of which more than two thirds use SMS. In March this year, a record total of 3.19 billion text messages were sent in the UK and a total of 36.5 billion texts are projected to be sent during 2006. And because of the ultra-personal nature of mobile phones, the vast majority of texts are opened and read. In fact, compared to other media, its a pretty sure-fire way of getting someones attention.
Simply put, the market trend is well set on the path of mobile marketing. Getting in touch by phone is going to be the most important form of contact between a brand and its customers. In a survey carried out by Airwide earlier this year, we found that major brands were starting to shift significant marketing resources into mobile phones, with as many as 89% of them planning to carry out mobile marketing campaigns within the next two years and 40% claiming they had already deployed text messaging campaigns to date.
The statistics also show that most brands expect mobile marketing to become far more effective than traditional direct mail, with 47% expecting between five and 15% of recipients to request more information or a sample, and 34% expecting between five and 20% of recipients to undertake a financial transaction after receiving a mobile marketing message.
Mobiles have a fundamental advantage when it comes to advertising. They offer an interactive and direct connection with any individual consumer. Response rates to mobile marketing messages are high at 10%, while recall rates are over 75% and there is a stronger ROI case than with any other medium.
But direct delivery into the hands of your target audience means that you have to get your message right. You need to be sure that youre speaking in the right language to the right people. So in order to get it right, its important to have done your homework.
Luckily, new delivery technology and sophisticated analysis tools means that marketing campaigns are becoming more and more effective. Airwide already provides the ability to reach a specific target audience, gathers information about how the user responded to a marketing message and delivers proof that the message was received by the users handset. This information is critical for both the brand and the operator and allows future campaigns to be better designed.
Marketers also need to remain sensitive to the style of the campaign. Creative, fun and imaginative mobile marketing campaigns will create the most positive brand image in the mind of the consumer as these sorts of campaigns are most likely to receive spontaneous viral status.
And with MMS messaging growing, and smartphones becoming more prevalent for the mobile market, brand messages can be accompanied by sounds, pictures, colour, animation, interactivity and a whole array of creative possibilities. The market for mobizines, or magazines direct to your mobile, is already kicking off, with brands such as Soundtrack To Your Life, OK and Time Out launching titles.
Extend the experience
Mobile marketing campaigns work best when they tie in with other media and extend the experience of a brands website or TV ads. For brands keen to build on this summers sporting theme, there are opportunities to deliver intelligent, branded messages in the form of specific interactive content to a receptive audience, from games and competitions to discount vouchers and preferential terms.
Mobile marketing needs to be seen as a fundamental and strategic part of the overall marketing mix. As a natural partner for other forms of marketing, it can be used to support campaigns which need to elicit a response from the consumer, in terms of interactivity, turning a branded message into a powerful viral campaign and, ultimately, making purchases.
The opportunities for drawing on new and more effective channels of communication this summer are endless. By including mobile marketing in the mix, the real winners of the worlds greatest football tournament will be those brands who employ mobile marketing to deliver their target audience into the palm of their hands. And, of course, vice versa.
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