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Corporate Nov 29, 2011

It’s time mobile marketing made its own rules

By Srivastava

New media usually uses the principles of the old media, before it invents its own. So the first movies were shot with a fixed camera and the actors performed as if they were doing a play on stage.

Similarly, the earliest ads on TV were static slides, sometimes with a soundtrack. And the first ads on the Internet were basically hoarding ideas formatted for the new medium.

And so it is that the mobile medium too is playing by the rules created for the Internet medium. There are way too many companies that are trying to put banners, buttons and video ads on the smallest screen. And clearly this is unsatisfactory for both the consumers and the marketer.

It is heartening, therefore, to note the rise of great new marketing programmes this year that use the true potential of the mobile phone. I would like to talk about four of these ideas:

There are way too many companies that are trying to put banners, buttons and video ads on the smallest screen like on the Internet. And clearly this is unsatisfactory.Reuters

The first is an idea I have written about in this column before. This is the Tesco virtual stores from South Korea. The challenge was that Tesco had way fewer stores than its main competitor and was therefore a distant number two in the market. The idea was to take display space in metro stations and other public spaces, paste pictures of supermarket shelves on them along with QR codes for each product. Consumers would scan the QR code for the product they wanted using their smart phones, pay for them online and the basket of goods would then be shipped to their homes. Here the mobile was used to augment the product and create a more convenient shopping experience.

The second idea is from Heineken that is focused on helping its customers enjoy the UEFA Champions League football more. Heineken is the main sponsor of the tournament, so it was a good fit. Instead of telecasting the highlights of the matches or just flashing the scores, the mobile application that Heineken created helped fans participate in the match itself. This video explains how the application worked. I must say it reminded me of the spot betting scandal in cricket when I saw this video.

The third idea is from India. This is for Hippo baked munchies and has won its agency, Creativeland Asia, a bunch of awards this year. Hippo was facing problems of stock-outs in many parts of the country because it was a new product and retailers were reluctant to order too many packs of it. So the agency created a Twitter handle for the brand and used it to ask consumers to Tweet every time they faced problems in getting stocks. This information was then relayed to the sales people who then ensured that the distributor rushed fresh stocks to the shops or areas which didn't have them. It seems that this campaign was a huge success with tweets coming in from 45 different cities and helping convince retailers that the brand was a success and so they should ensure they have enough stocks of it.

All three ideas actually got the consumer to do something more than just look at an ad. There is an important lesson here. They say that TV is a lean back medium and the Internet is a lean forward medium. Well, the mobile is a medium where people actually do things - beyond just watch or read. So a successful mobile marketing programme needs to get the consumer to do something. And ideally, to reward the consumer to do so.

I would like to end this piece with a word about marathons. This is appropriate since the Delhi half marathon was run last weekend and the Mumbai one is less than two months away. Many of us who are training for these events use Nike Plus to help us keep track of how much we are running and also to brag about it to our friends on our social media networks. Yet another brilliant use of the mobile medium to not just benefit consumers, but also to get them to virally spread the word about Nike every time they tell their friends about how much they ran today.

So when you run tomorrow, please think about how you will use the mobile phone to strengthen your brand. Make sure that the idea is to make your customer do something and not just see something.

A run is a good time to get creative ideas. Just do it.

by Srivastava

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