Thursday, January 18, 2007

A taste of small things to come

[Note to readers: I've been working on this post for a while now. Every time I think I'm close to publishing it, I read a new article about mobile marketing that I should include. It goes to show how hot this topic is. It also goes to show that my aforementioned series on this topic will be pretty lengthy! This post is a preview of the my upcoming mobile marketing series as well as a taste of what's going on in the news.]

Verizon Wireless is opening up by allowing advertisers to push their ads to its customers' mobile phones, according to a NYT article. Reporter Matt Richtel writes, "The interest of advertisers in the medium stems from a theory that ads placed on mobile phones could create a particularly intimate bond with consumers. The gadgets are ubiquitous, personal, and messages could theoretically be tailored to individuals based on demographics like age, gender and location." Mobile phone advertising is a growing business, and like any such business, there is uncertainty. However, I do think librarians need to consider mobile marketing vehicles and their implications for our services and promotions.

In other news, Forrester Research released a report indicating that US consumers are primed to adopt mobile marketing. According to a research news report, " Although 79 percent of consumers find the idea of mobile ads annoying, early efforts at mobile marketing indicate consumer acceptance -- as long as marketers deliver valuable information or content, according to a study by Forrester Research." If you research mobile marketing long enough, you'll find this reoccurring theme: mobile marketing can be effective IF (and only if) marketers respect the personal nature of the medium and avoid spamming unsuspecting customers. After all, mobile phones are not just communication devices. Customers also view them as personal symbols of their individuality, and they understandably get a little upset if they perceive that symbol is being abused by marketers. (In my upcoming series, I'll talk more about people's relationship with their cell phones and mobile devices).

ClickZ summarizes the Mobile Marketing Association's (MMA) annual attitude and usage study on mobile marketing effectiveness (released only to members). The report yielded results somewhat similar to the Forrester report, stating, "Although mobile marketing participation rates may be down, mobile consumers are becoming more educated about the features and functionality of their devices and are engaging more frequently in mobile marketing campaigns. The mobile phone is becoming an essential element in a consumer's everyday life. This increased dependency on the mobile phone is expected to lead to increased utilization." The ClickZ article contains some excellent links to MMA guidelines and and common short codes (I'll explain all this in the series).

Finally, as these trends continue to grow, we'll see many more mobile marketing services providers getting in on the act. And I don't yet know what the impact of Apple's iPhone will be in this arena.

The series I keep mentioning is based on research I conducted for a services marketing course in which I wrote a marketing plan for a proposed new library service. Specifically, I looked at SMS/text messaging and its potential use as a library reference service delivery vehicle, although this technology is also used for promotional purposes by an increasing number of companies. The series will address the following topics (although I may change the number and/or order of these):

  • Mobile marketing & SMS: What it is (the nature of the medium)
  • What the research says
  • Why librarians should care & the competitive landscape
  • Examples and possibilities
  • Libraries: Going mobile
  • Resources, tools, and readings
The reason I'm so determined to explore mobile marketing is that technology is becoming integrated into our physical environment, and I believe we librarians are going to have to discover new ways to succeed in this new reality. Mobile devices offer one promising way to target interested patrons and reach people and their time and place of need. I hope you'll feel free to add your own insights and opinions, and ask questions about mobile marketing as the series unfolds.

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