Advertising: Coming To A Phone Near You

Tonight, I attended the December MobileMonday DC meeting which focused on “Electioneering in the Mobile Age” and had an impressive speaker line-up with representatives from the Giuliani and Obama presidential campaigns as well as from Rock the Vote. The conversation centered around if/how each organization incorporated a mobile messaging component into their overall strategy this past Election season.

Here are five interesting facts I learned:

  • 77% of Americans under the age of 24 use SMS
  • Rock the Vote observed higher SMS opt-in rates among Latinos, African-Americans, women, those under 30, and those living on the coasts. (I might have had that written down incorrectly, it might just be East Coast…)
  • The Obama for President Committee found high value in texting people on Election Day to inform them of polls that were kept open late, but were unable to find a viable way to message Americans oversees, due to the variety and number of possible systems they would have to test and integrate.
  • Rock the Vote and the Obama for President Committee both had multilingual mobile campaign components – RTV had a Spanish mobile site and each was able to answer texts in a variety of languages
  • The Rudy Giuliani for President Committee did not include mobile messaging as part of their overall strategy with obstacles including the perception that SMS was not appropriate for the target demographic (older audience) and the cost was too high

In the future we’ll be seeing other entities incorporate mobile campaigns into their marketing strategies through the use of optimized websites, iPhone Apps, and SMS (text messaging). SMS is a key component of a successful mobile campaign because of its guaranteed deliverability, ease and speed of use, and the two-way interaction that it facilitates.

And as these mobile campaigns become more commonplace, we’ll see higher levels of sophistication and integration between different social media avenues – in other words, people will be texted a link to a website, they’ll view the optimized website, which perhaps has a YouTube video embedded, and will then share the video with their friends on FaceBook.

As a marketing professional, it a relief to know there’s a new medium out there which is successful in getting information to the public. But as an individual, this all concerns me.

Of course, there’s a distinction between opt-in marketing campaigns, where you’ve elected to receive the texts, but I’m already experiencing unsolicited advertising coming through with AT&T/Apple sending me promotional texts. (They have my number since they are my mobile service provider.). It’s only a matter of time before all the junk I’m getting in my email comes to my phone and clutters that space as well.

SO – What do you think? Are text messages a way you’d want to get information from your political candidates and other companies? Or is your phone a sacred safe zone where ads don’t belong?

  • Akirah

    If they want to reach us, they definitely would be able to, but I’m sure it would annoy a whole lot of people. I like knowing that every time my phone vibrates, it’s a friend checking in to say hi. I’m not sure how much I’d like to be bothered with promotional texts.

    And what about people who don’t have free texts?

    It would take some time getting used to. I mean, email used to be a personal way to keep in touch with people. Now half of my emails are from restaurants and stores trying to get me to buy things. You just hafta get used to the times, I guess.

  • Megan

    We all want to feel in control of the situation and sometimes when you open your spam folder and have hundreds of emails you didn’t want and have no interest in reading it seems slightly out of control! My blackberry has enough technical difficulties as is retrieving email and SMS from friends and family, the last thing I need is an overflowing spam folder on my SMS. But I believe there is a happy medium.

    Take Constant Contact for example, as a business who uses Constant Contact to stay in touch with our customers and a consumer who is targeted through Constant Contact emails I appreciate the fact that at the beginning and end of each email it says very clearly if you would like to remove yourself from the mailing list at anytime you may do so. They don’t make the link hard to find or the process of removing yourself difficult. In addition to this, once you remove yourself the host cannot re-add you to the mailing list. You have to have a newsletter forwarded to you and then you have to subscribe again. This is one way to respectfully spam people and allow them a fair chance to “opt out”.

    I like receiving emails from companies I shop with to learn about upcoming sales. I liked receiving text message updates from the Obama campaign and I like receiving (some) text messages from promoters about the place to go on Saturday night in D.C. But more than anything I like the freedom of choice. I like being able to opt out and not have any other spam trickle through. If it can be managed I think it is not only an effective marketing tool but it is a convenient way for consumers to stay up to date on the latest and greatest.

  • Autumn

    My phone is a complete sacred safe haven where text ads/messages don’t belong. 🙂