MMA Mobile Marketing Forum Serves Up Hard Data & Deep Insights

Topic: Mobile Loyalty, Mobile Marketing | Author: Jeff Hasen | Date: June 18, 2012

MMA serves mobile marketing insightsThe meaty MMA Mobile Marketing Forum in New York City treated us to a hearty helping of insights and key learnings, actionable information that makes this an important industry event. Last week the Forum addressed tough questions around privacy and debated the disparity between the people spend on their mobile devices – 10 percent of all hours on all media, according to leading analyst Mary Meeker — and the marketing dollars actually flowing into the mobile channel.

Here are some of the points that define the industry debate now.

Trust matters

Privacy is a concern, but don’t expect people to take the matter into their own hands. As Ash Evans, Verizon’s director of corporate strategy, put it: Consumers care about protecting their identity, but they aren’t interested in doing much themselves. In fact, he forecasts a “bit of a car wreck” in privacy discussion, an unfortunate development that he said will lead to degradation of share value for brands.

“People will leave, he said flatly. To complicate matters Evans foresees a “further degradation of trust” if brands tackle privacy on their own.

The executive got pushback from the audience when he suggested that government has a role to play. Evans heard even more dissension from the audience when he called for a “universal” identity system – a central place where one’s personal information would be housed and accessed. I can understand the disagreement on this. Such a system is problematic at best given the potential for breaches.

Talking strategy

Elsewhere at the show discussion centered on the disconnect between the importance of the mobile channel in our lives (consider alone the time we spend on our devices daily) and the fact that only approximately one percent of the overall marketing spend is being allocated to mobile. With this in mind, many brand marketers talked about their initiatives and progress, as well as their hesitations.

Case in point: Omaha Steaks. Rather than SMS, a channel we naturally associate with being able to deliver offers to consumers on their phones, Omaha Steaks is driving results (leading to real sales) with approaches that incorporate Groupon and mobile search.

The restaurant chain has used mobile ads, QR codes, apps, in-app ads, SMS and a mobile website to facilitate the delivery of deals to consumers.

“Because we are direct response, we are always pushing out offers,” Steve Morse, Omaha Steaks’ manager of search and social marketing, told the Forum audience: “We’ve learned that in SMS, people don’t want offers continuously. On the other hand, on the mobile Web redemption for our offers have grown by leaps and bounds. That is why we are continuously improving our mobile Web experience.”

Morse outlined how harnessing Groupon to deliver deals has boosted sales and allowed him to address a new audience of consumers. On average, 60 percent of the transactions that are triggered by Groupon, are performed by new customers, or customers who are purchasing from Omaha Steaks for the first time. Morse added that mobile search is the best performing in terms of driving redemption of offers.

While Morse did not disclose what his company spends on mobile, he did report that 5 percent of sales come via the mobile channel.

Coca-Cola was everywhere – in the coolers during the breaks and (fortunately for us marketers attending the event) on stage for several sessions to share their experience and key learnings.

Coke,one of the first and most active brands in mobile, encouraged us to grasp mobile with both hands. “You can’t stop learning” was the message throughout the day. And — thankfully — Coke didn’t stop teaching us what it had learned first-hand.

Coke has been open about its approach in the past, revealing that the majority of its efforts are focused on proven strategies and tactics, including large-scale text messaging programs that provide “reach.” At the Forum we also got the inside track on how Coke mapped mobile to the Super Bowl. It chose to make mobile an element, not the main attraction. The message to marketers: Do not “compete” with the telecast. Instead, make the marketing complementary.

GE provided insight into its extensive and expanding mobile strategy — shedding light on what brands can glean from the data only mobile can deliver. For instance, the company’s key mobile metric for appliance sales is activity around the dealer locator feature on their mobile website and app. That “shows intent”, GE’s Andy Markowitz said.

How I See It:  The high-level discussion throughout last week’s Forum was a welcome departure from the mobile marketing discussion of the “basics” that characterize many other conferences, not to mention books, in this space.

What makes the Forum special is the large representation by brands and agencies. Their words and actions bring a sense of realism to the mobile industry, an industry that often hypes so-called solutions that aren’t solving much of anything.

But not everything I heard was believable. Mobile was called the first screen, but that description seems premature. Mary Meeker’s highly-respected Internet trends report tells a different story. It states that  46 percent of time spent consuming media is with television, nearly double the runner-up (which is not mobile). So, calling mobile the first screen is quite a leap. There was debate about whether people really  pay attention to television (as opposed to content and advertising delivered to people’s personal and portable devices) but that all sounded like mobile hype to me.

Happily, the hype was at a minimum in New York.

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