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ad:tech Mobile Musings

Posted on 7.31.2007
The mobile Web has become a hot-button issue. With the release of the iPhone and the continual upgrading of smart phones, the mobile Web seems poised to make a splash. However, that's been said for years and still, companies are having a hard time monetizing their mobile sites or even driving traffic to them.

A panel at ad:tech discussed the challenges and opportunities of the mobile Web and here are some of their thoughts:

Dan Miller, VP Mobile Soplutions for Neighborhood America feels that mobile ad campaigns should be a part of larger campaign, serving as a call to action. Miller feels that, in its current state, mobile is best viewed as a strategy, simply as another channel to reach the consumer.

Zaw Thet, CEO and co-founder of 4Info, Inc., sees value in text messaging campaigns that offer something to the consumer. Such as "text-to-win" where a consumer sends a text message to enter a contest.

Kathy Volpi, Director at U.S. Cellular says that the biggest mistake that companies make with text messaging campaigns is that they are too complex. She suggests keeping messages brief and to the point, focusing on one message, one call to action. Miller sees problems when companies don't have a clear opt-in process. He says that the intent of gathering a mobile phone number should be explicit. Tell the consumer why you are collecting their number and be sure to explain that you will be sending them messages - either right on the opt-in form or through a link. The mobile phone is a very private medium - consumers are easily aggravated when they get messages that they did not know they signed up for.

All of the panelists agreed that mobile advertising is effective, and partly due to its novelty. They see mobile response rates dropping to the online level in about two years.

What about dot mobi domains? Every panelist feels that they are close to worthless and are mostly bought for defensive purposes (to thwart squatters.) They all feel that, as phones develop and websites recognize a mobile surfer, there is no need for separate domains. One panelist called dot mobi a "red herring" while another called it a "money-making scheme."

The panelists were asked what were the most successful mobile campaigns they have seen. They were: A Hurricane Katrina donation drive, political campaigns and a mobile petition for research for AIDS. The common denominator - non-profits and politics. The feeling is that this is due to timeliness and an inspirational cause. So, to get the best responses from your mobile campain you need to find a way to inspire consumers and reach them at a time when they are ready to take action. The general feeling I get - it's all still a work in progress, but worth exploring. Some 240 million mobile phones exist in the U.S. at the present time.
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