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Mobile marketing is not about app vs msites or SMS, ok?

I really did not expect my last post to generate any negative response, as my point with the article was really to point out that more smartphones = awareness of mobile data access = more data plans = more opportunities for interactive mobile marketing campaign beyond SMS or MMS interaction.  I.e.  allowing users to post pictures, watch video clips, invite friends in a branded setting is called engagement. It generally produces very good results (yes, you can engage with SMS and MMS, but in a very basic way, where it is hard to do a seamless interaction online and mobile, with rich media – not limited by MMS gateway restrictions, etc).  But somehow, I did manage to have the “i” word referenced with my post. Oh well.  Glad I touched someone :)

Also, my intention was not in any way to say that applications is the way to go in mobile marketing. In fact, at Storyz, a key point for us was that our wap site can do almost everything our apps can do (with the exception of address book and camera integration, which we’ve created workarounds for on wap).

Few can argue against the importance of mobile as a personal device, which is always with you, and which is the centerpiece of social interaction. Volker Hirsch, and industry expert, recently put together a great deck on mobile and social gaming:

(The interesting slides are from slide 30 and onwards, where Volker really highlights how powerful the mobile device is as a tool for social interaction, gaming, and of course marketing.)

If you are reading this blog, you probably already agree with the premise and the importance of mobile in the marketing and content mix.  Now back to the question on whether to use app, wap, sms, etc as a mobile marketing tool. At the OMMA conference, several panelists dismissed apps as “gimmicky”.  The industry in general seem to be taken back that marketers are only focusing on iPhone, and this focus is being reinforced by a huge range of case studies showing successful campaigns with iPhone apps (just check out Mobile Marketer if you want to see evidence).  No doubt the app focus will be reinforced and grow beyond the iPhone, as multiple reports have come out showing that mobile apps will explode everywhere.

But here is the main point: As a marketer, you cannot only look at apps, in fact, for most apps would be a wrong way to spend your meager 1% of the budget (according to the OMMA panel).  Instead, develop campaigns that target the mass market (I would add mobile browsers in Volker’s image below), and that interact with other parts of your digital campaign.

So why is there such a fascination with apps and particularly on the iPhone among marketers? Precisely for the same reason users have embraced apps and the iPhone: It is easy to understand.

But I still stand by my argument in my previous article: The proliferation of smartphones and the awareness of the mobile as a connected device drives data plans.  And it is when data plans are common and inexpensive – and in fact when users could not possibly imagine getting a phone without it, that you finally have all the tools at your disposal to use mobile in your marketing campaigns. And at that point it is not a discussion on whether to focus on SMS because the reach is higher or cost is lower, but simply because SMS may work for certain things, MMS for another, mobile sites and interaction for other reasons etc etc.

So please, feel free to comment. But spear me the lecture on what you should focus on now.  Because that depends on the brand, the objective, the target audience – and how good you are as the one in charge of implementation of the campaign in terms of knowing the limitations and possibilities of mobile.




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