A consumer's view on Mobile Marketing

Today, a lot of people are connected on their smartphone to the web, to their friends, and basically to everything else. In some countries, it is rumoured that web access via smartphones will actually out-run web access via PCs. In addition, in a recent Mobile research report by InSites Consulting, we discovered that 40% of people use their smartphone while watching TV. That is a lot of eyeballs shifting away from PC and web, and a lot of attention given to a very small screen…
It isn’t surprising then to see blogs like Mobile Marketer claim that US mobile ad spend will be up 80% in 2012 compared to 2011. A lot of marketers start figuring that their message should be where the attention is, causing these first budget shifts. However, there are quite some people in and outside of the marketing industry who adhere to the thought that advertising has ‘ruined’ channels like print, TV and parts of the web by flooding it with advertising, and a question often asked is “Is mobile going the same way?” and if so, “How can we stop this?”.
A voice that’s often missing in this conversation is that of the people using the channels under scrutiny. I too wondered: what does a smartphone user think about getting marketing messages on his phone? From our mobile study, we learn that 18% are open to ‘receiving advertising or coupons’ on their smartphones. That’s 1/5th of smartphone users, with a positive trend in more ‘mature’ mobile markets (US & UK) and a somewhat negative trend in Belgium and the Netherlands. This openness increases however when we start specifying the marketing initiatives. We find that promotions in general are a more accepted form of advertising (37% acceptance across markets). Other advertising that is evaluated more positively are initiatives from a retail store where the participant is a regular shopper, or location-based advertising. Banners within apps or browsers are evaluated most negatively (13% openness).
What we learn from this is:

  1. Advertising types that give the consumer a benefit (promotion) are most accepted on smartphones
  2. Familiarity with a retail outlet positively influences openness towards mobile advertising
  3. Contextual variables like location have an influence on perceived relevance of advertising. The more relevant, the more people are open to receiving marketing messages.

In conclusion, it’s all about being relevant for the consumer. Relevant because of direct benefit, relevant because of a previously existing relation and trust, or relevant because the message perfectly fits with the purchasing context.
And the good news is that people who are open to mobile marketing wouldn’t mind getting messages fairly frequently. Across markets, 41% of participants to our study claimed not to mind getting a message at least once a week.
So, are we going the same disastrous way with this emerging mobile channel as we went with TV and the web? Yes, we are, if we’re going to copy/paste the things we did on these channels to the small screen without further consideration. But no, we aren’t, if we’re thinking hard enough about how to make our marketing message relevant to the consumer. If we use the unique capabilities of mobile (like location and directly redeemable coupons), mobile advertising can have a direct impact on the bottom line, and we avoid even further frustrating an already bombarded consumer.

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