Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Real Thing in Mobile Marketing

Coca-Cola announced in 2006 that it was working towards allocating over 50% of its marketing budget to mobile marketing. On Friday, 22 June 2007, we will see the launch in the US of its first mobile digital community linked to the Sprite brand, called Sprite Yard. What is the marketing model and is it relevant to the South African market?

The launch of Sprite Yard is aimed at being a real time “on the go” community. It will allow its members to network with each other and to download various types of content 24/7. In order to register to join Yard, users simply SMS the keyword “Yard” to a short code. They will then be linked to the Yard portal and will be able to download a browser application on their mobile phones.

The Yard user is registered with a tag name and password, has the ability to select various preferences relating to content and can invite friends to join their community. In short, the Yard is a classic mobile digital community with the significant difference that it is consumer-brand driven.

Changing dynamics

Up to now we have seen web-based digital communities such as Myspace, Facebook and mobile digital communities such as Mxit in SA. They have dominated the market based on first entry. I foresee that vertical social network services offered by consumer brands will drastically change the dynamics in digital communities. There is a new game coming to town.

What, from a technical point of view, is Sprite Yard offering its consumers in its mobile digital community?
  • A tag name and password for access giving a form of security
  • The ability to create your own community by inviting others to join
  • Photo sharing
  • A message board for sending messages to individuals or groups
  • Showcasing a snapshot of your activities
  • Digital downloads of content for free
  • Exclusive content such as visitones (music with ringtones) and mobisodes (animated shorts) linked to PIN activation under a Sprite bottle cap.
Linking mobile content to product sales will become the new marketing dynamite of the next five years.

The mobile marketing perspective

Taken from a mobile marketing perspective, Sprite Yard is an example of a brand combining with technology to communicate with its consumers in the most personal way via their mobile phones. As I have mentioned before, the mobile is personal, portable and pedestrian. It is also offers the most complete way in which to communicate a message to someone since Eve offered the apple of temptation to Adam.

“We know that when it comes to reaching teens, mobile is the medium. This program will enable us to connect with teens by putting Sprite both in their hand and in their phone,” says Denis Sison, Sprite global brand director.

The mobile imperative for teens

Looking at recent global research by Mobilitec ( on Mobile Marketing and Teens, the principal points are confirmed once again. These are that
  • teens are highly responsive to mobile marketing techniques and mobile branding
  • this group anticipates receiving advertising and special offers on their mobile phones telling them about new products and good deals.
This is hardly surprising when you think about it. This group is probably the most connected to the world wide web where they are constantly exposed to similar offers.

A similar research project, conducted by Q Research, amongst the 11 – 20 age group in the UK, has come up with results that rank their preferences when receiving mobile marketing communications as follows:
  • 32% – willing to receive “general” ads to mobile
  • 71% – willing to receive ads only on things I am interested in
  • 76% – willing to receive ads in exchange for discounts/ special offers
  • 82% – willing to receive ads in exchange for top-up credit
The research further showed that young people preferred picture advertising messages to video and text/sms ads. This is probably due to the current cost of downloading video in the UK. As SA presently has amongst the cheapest rates in the world it would not surprise me to find that SA teens would be quite prepared to download video ads on their mobiles.

Mind the gap

But what of the generation gap and the old timers in SA? Anything from 35 years and up could be considered “old” in the mobile digital age. Will they use their mobile phones to join communities and to access information? What of the digital divide in this country?

One has to spend only 30 minutes in the company of Brian Richardson of Wizzit Bank to realize that when one offers a valued service on a mobile phone, no matter what the age, gender or ethnic group, the user will learn to use and adopt that service. In the case of Wizzit, this is a banking product that has been enthusiastically adopted by the previously unbanked population sector of SA.

Bite the apple

There are two things that you can do about this opportunity that is being offered to you:
  • You can relax, soak up the sun and have it pass you by. At least, make it a conscious decision to ignore the proferred ‘apple' without testing the fruit.
  • You can decide to investigate it and determine whether or not a mobile digital community suits your brand strategy. At least then you will test the fruit and decide whether or not to take a bite of the apple.
And by the way, do it in 2007, because in 2008 you will be banished from the Garden of Eden.

Source: Biz Community

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