Brands take to mobile

09 July 2012

NEW YORK: Brand owners such as Coca-Cola, Samsung and Sephora are making heightened use of mobile to engage consumers, indicating this medium is entering the mainstream marketing mix.

Coca-Cola, the soft drinks group, is using several tools, from paid mobile search ads promoting restaurants selling its goods to holding competitions asking customers to send text messages to win.

It has also been an early adopter of Facebook's mobile ads, adding messages to the news feeds of members when they "like" its products. In Japan, the firm used a social game on mobile requiring players to "check in" to collect points.

"In one sense, you're imagining these programs before they're doable," Wendy Clark, senior vice president of marketing at Coca-Cola, told Bloomberg. "Our biggest challenge, for a company like ours, is if we scale the wrong thing perfectly."

Samsung, the electronics specialist, is planning to run a campaign offering deals to iPhone users in the US, providing discounts of up to $300 for shoppers swapping this gadget for one of its own.

The company doubled its mobile spend in the first quarter of 2012 to 10% of expenditure, and found these ads cost 15% of the web equivalent, but are twice as effective. It has bought space on both Facebook and Google's AdMob network.

"You're dealing with so many fewer pixels that being able to articulate the brand promise and the offer is challenging," Colleen McDuffe, director of digital marketing for Samsung Mobile USA, said. "It needs to be exclusively built for mobile."

Elsewhere, Sephora, the cosmetics brand, will soon experiment with mobile advertising on Twitter, having enjoyed success with the microblog's online services.

"Clients are including Sephora in their Twitter conversations," Bridget Dolan, vice president of digital marketing at the firm, said. "We realised that this is an opportunity for us to do mobile advertising."

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has predicted US mobile adspend will rise from $3.6bn in 2011 to $18.3bn in 2015. EMarketer pegged the figure for 2012 at $2.6bn, set to hit $10.8bn in 2016.

"We think we've cracked the code on a new form of advertising," Adam Bain, president in charge of global revenue at Twitter. "They're completely integrated within the experience, not just bolted on to the top or the bottom or the side of the viewing experience, like a traditional display ad is in digital."

Not everyone is as convinced, especially as brands are not convinced about the quality of metrics to prove payback. "They're not as certain about the return on investment," said Jay Henderson, of IBM's enterprise marketing consulting group.

Data sourced from Bloomberg; additional content by Warc staff