(STAR) The mobile phone is becoming the single most powerful platform in today’s dynamic marketing landscape, the chief marketing officer of Smart Communications Inc. said.

Speaking at the first Internet and Mobile Marketing Summit held in Makati City, Danilo Mojica, head of Smart’s Wireless Consumer Division, said the sheer explosion in mobile ownership and the shift in the way people use mobile have led to advertisers looking more closely at the huge potential of the medium.

“It is mind-boggling how fast and how deeply technology is shaping the way we live. With 48 million mobile phones in active use today, the cellphone has ceased to be just a tool for basic call and text,” he said.

These days, mobile has become a source of entertainment via value-added services, and an important vehicle for financial transactions and remittance services.

It is now a camera, a locator, an Internet access device, a source of news and information, and soon, everyone’s mobile television. It has become so that one could forget his or her wallet and keys, but never the cellular phone. It has become a most personal possession, an important part of one’s identity.

And it is because of this that the mobile has become the single most powerful platform for directly communicating with consumers.

Engaging consumers with mobile

Mojica explained the greater depth of consumer engagement via mobile. “With the cellphone, you know the user. It is always on. In TV parlance, it is always prime time. When you send a message via SMS or MMS to a subscriber, you engage him in an intimate, direct and personal way. It is interactive advertising that can generate a response or drive a sale, and is immediately measurable,” he said.

Unlike traditional media, mobile advertising allows for 25/8 mobility. It has the potential to provide location targeting and time-specific messages. Do you want to catch a consumer just as he is entering a fastfood mall to figure out where to have a quick lunch? No other medium will hold him captive at just that moment of decision-making. And because it’s a one-to-one relationship, it can allow for consumer profiling for very target-specific messages.

It’s not a passive, mass-produced, one-size-fits-all medium where the broadcaster dictates what, when, and where to give the message to its mass media audience.

Paving the way for mobile advertising

Mojica described how advertisers are looking more closely at the huge potential of mobile as a medium. “With 48 million actively subscribed mobile users, one could reach over half the entire Filipino population. The highest rating program today will reach only 20 percent of the population and will cost the advertiser P0.20 per viewer, compared to only half that using mobile advertising. And there is no ‘channel surfing’ on the cellphone,” he said.

But is the Filipino consumer ready to receive advertising messages on his cellphone?

Mojica said, “Our research shows that 74 percent of our subscribers are interested to receive ads through their mobile phones, specifically about discounts, raffles, and tips on specific topics of interest. Those who are open to raffle ads prefer to register via SMS at 94 percent versus only four percent for the traditional dropbox.”

Tit for tat

Mojica made clear that the idea of receiving incentives like free calls, loads, and downloads, among others, is what appealed most to subscribers about accepting mobile ads. In exchange for these incentives, they are willing to provide information about themselves, valuable data critical to any advertiser’s relationship marketing program.

With profiling via mobile advertising, valuable information could be generated such as the types of products, services, events or topics consumers are interested to receive or be invited to via mobile, what time of day they are most receptive to receiving the messages, how often in a day they are open to receive the messages, and where they wish to collect their freebies.

Integrating mobile with traditional

A typical two-month sales promotion could cost a consumer packaged goods advertiser at least P40 million in advertising and promo fulfillment logistics. A typical mobile ad for the same could cost half of that.

More recently, Smart implemented mobile advertising campaigns for Pilipinas Shell, Procter and Gamble, Unilever, Pepsi, Giordano, Nestle, and more companies.

However, Mojica clarified that advertisers need not replace traditional media with mobile advertising.

“What this development presents is the richness of the mobile medium, and the greater depth of consumer engagement one can achieve when you integrate mobile with your advertising and promotions campaigns. This is convergence and synergy in the truest sense of the word, bringing together great organizations with the right technology to support it,” he concluded.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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