Mobile marketing attracts big brands

29 June 2010

NEW YORK: Advertisers such as PepsiCo, Best Buy and Target are all taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by mobile marketing to connect with consumers in new ways.

PepsiCo, the beverage giant, recently launched a mobile marketing drive called Loot, which employs geo-location services to reward customers regularly purchasing its drinks with free music downloads.

In late 2009, the company faced widespread criticism for an app developed by its Amp brand, which was aimed at teenage males but ultimately became the subject of highly negative feedback online.

This tool was soon withdrawn, but Bonin Bough, PepsiCo's global director of digital and social media, argued the lessons learned from this exercise will prove invaluable in the future. 

"It's about being able to evolve over time and to see how consumers react," he said.

Best Buy, the electronics chain, has also attempted to utilise this medium to broaden its reach in a variety of areas from gaming to movies.

Its latest activity has taken the form of an app that enables people to pre-order DVDs and soundtracks, receive more information about a specific title and bookmark films during trailers.

"Engagement is powerful, even if you're not monetizing every engagement," said Ryan Pirozzi, director of movies at Best Buy.

Apple's iAd platform is credited with drawing fresh interest to this emerging channel, having attracted firms like AT&T, Unilever, General Electric and Citi. 

"Apple has a clever strategy to feature iconic brands like Target, Nike and Gap to generate solid case studies supporting mobile marketing spending," said  Tom Bedecarre, ceo of AKQA, the agency.

"The creative messages in these inaugural ads will be tweaked and optimized by Apple to ensure quality, to remove any bugs and to give iPhone owners a quality experience with brands they admire."

Elsewhere, Target became one of the first major retailers to introduce coupons that could be scanned directly from shoppers' handsets, unveiling this initiative, which applies to 1,750 stores, in March.

JCPenney also sends out weekly money-off vouchers for mobiles, while Sears and Kmart have leveraged their m-commerce sites to offer customers promotions based on factors like their location and the weather.

The benefits of these schemes for brand owners are said to include access to a range of statistics such as the time and date a coupon was obtained, how often it was viewed and when it was redeemed.

A growing number of retailers are marrying such data with that which is already available on the web and offline, including likely age, sex and income, purchase history and surfing habits.

"The big advantage of mobile coupons is the convenience, because your phone is like your underwear; it goes everywhere you go," said Luke Knowles, founder of Coupon Sherpa.

However, Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, the lobbying group, warned there is a trade-off for the participants in these programmes.

"The convenience provided by mobile coupons comes at a price: your privacy," he said.

Data sourced from AdWeek/Washington Post; additional content by Warc staff