Mobile is an area of intense fascination for marketers and advertisers, partially because it’s so confounding.
Ideally, mobile marketing can be even more effective than search. Its targeted consumers are not sitting on their couches thinking about buying something — they’re out in the real world and are open to suggestions about where to go next. A well-timed coupon or even just a reminder that a store is nearby can create a sales opportunity out of thin air.
That said, there are huge barriers to getting an effective mobile campaign underway, including privacy issues, wireless carriers’ individual policies and the still low rate of smartphone adoption in the U.S.
Nevertheless, here are five mobile campaigns that worked within those limitations and showed the industry the potential of the mobile medium.
1. PowerMat on MyTown
If you haven’t heard of Booyah’s MyTown, imagine if Second Life was overlaid on the real world. Considered the world’s largest location-based game with 3.3 million players, MyTown offers virtual rewards when players check in to real locations. In early 2010, the game’s zealous user base caught the attention of PowerMat, a consumer electronics firm known for its wireless charging devices. In May 2010, the brand launched the first-ever sweepstakes on MyTown, offering virtual items when players checked in to a PowerMat retailer like Best Buy, Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond.
Results: PowerMat virtual goods garnered nearly 15 million interactions during the program. The clickthrough rate to PowerMat’s sweepstakes page was 1.8%, compared to an industry average of 0.1%. Players submitted more than 21,000 entries.
2. InterContinental Hotels Group Boosts Mobile Search
What’s the best mobile marketing tool: a mobile website or an app? For InterContinental Hotels Group, it’s no contest: a mobile website is much more valuable, according to Interactive Marketing Manager Marco De Rosa. Why? In a case study published by Google about IHG’s European mobile program, De Rosa points out that websites are more flexible across different platforms. Of course, apps have their place, and IHG launched one — called the Priority Club Reward app — which lets customers book hotel rooms, check their points balance and view reservations. IHG got the word out about its expanded mobile offerings via old school media, including print and on-premise signage.
Results: The push resulted in a 91% year-over-year increase in mobile search revenues, and traffic to the company’s mobile site jumps about 20% every month. In the U.S., the mobile program added another feature: Click-to-Call from Google AdWords. Click-to-Call now accounts for 40% of IHG’s mobile web revenue globally, according to De Rosa.
3. Buick, Disney Try Google Goggles
For the uninitiated, Google Goggles is a technology from the search giant that uses smartphone cameras to read signs as well as recognize landmarks and icons. The marketing potential of the technology seemed obvious, so last year Google launched a pilot program with Buick, Disney, Diageo, Delta Airlines and T-Mobile using Google Goggles to translate advertising messages.
Here’s how it worked: The advertisers produced ads with images that could be recognized by Google Goggles. For instance, a Buick print ad could, when photographed, lead to a dedicated website, a la a QR code. Michael Slinger, director of mobile ads for the Americas at Google, says he’s still analyzing the results from those campaigns, which launched late last year. “We’re continuing to assess the data, and we’re basically figuring out what the next stage in our beta is,” says Slinger.
4. A Bunch of Carrot Farmers’ Xtreme Xrunch Kart
Ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky made a name for itself over the last decade with some offbeat, sometimes envelope-pushing work on behalf of Burger King, Microsoft and others. Last summer, the agency went on a crusade for, of all things, baby carrots. The agency’s strategy was to pit the carrots, which are marketed by a consortium called A Bunch of Carrot Farmers, as an alternative snack with slick packaging and a $25 million ad campaign.
Part of the push also included Xtreme Xrunch Kart [iTunes link], a mobile game that — get this — is powered by the sound of carrots crunching. A Crispin rep says the agency “used lots of complicated science to develop an algorithm that turns the sound of carrot crunches into nitro boosts in the game.” (Internally, this is known as “Crunchonics Technology.”) The crunches guide a guy in the game in a rocket-strapped shopping cart through an urban wasteland. Gamers can get speed boosts and catch air by crunching real carrots into their phone.
Results: A Crispin spokesman says the app got 13,000 downloads in the first week, but current figures weren’t available.
5. Intel’s Rich Banner Ads
Clickthrough rates for banner ads are notoriously poor, but Beth Lubov Butrymowicz, Intel’s global media manager, thought mobile banners might work better, particularly if they were able to be manipulated — hence Intel’s expandable rich banners that expand when users click on them. After users expand the ads, they see three icons than can be dragged and dropped to the bottom of the screen. Then they’d be asked three quick questions about their technology needs. After qualifying themselves, users would then be led to an Intel mobile site providing more information about what they were looking for.
Results: Interaction rates within the rich banners were five times higher than for in-app placements. Lubov Butrymowicz attributed that difference to behavioral targeting — since users identified themselves by their interests, they were more likely to respond to the ad messages. Behavioral targeting reached users as they were researching computers. “We delivered a utility that helped a user in their decision making process,” she says. “Additionally, this was the first banner of its kind — this level of interaction within the banner had yet to be seen prior to our campaign launch.”