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Mobile marketing is the practice of promoting brands

    Mobile Marketing

    Mobile marketing is the practice of promoting brands over mobile devices such as smartphones, portable media players and tablets.


    Discuss the pros and cons of marketing via smartphones, computer tablets and other mobile devices


    Key Points

    • During the early 2000s, mobile marketing became popular with the use of text messaging in Europe and parts of Asia.
    • Mobile marketing promotional tactics include SMS and MMS messaging, push notifications, QR codes, keyword advertising and mobile game marketing.
    • Some of the key advantages of mobile marketing are the close proximity of owners’ mobile devices, as well as the habitual nature of using cell phones, smartphones and computer tablets.
    • Despite the cost-effectiveness of mobile marketing, brands face challenges around privacy concerns with user data.

    Key Terms

    • Bluetooth: A proprietary open-wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances (using short-wavelength radio transmissions in the ISM band from 2400–2480 MHz) from fixed and mobile devices, creating personal area networks (PANs) with high levels of security.
    • MMS: Multimedia Messaging Service – standard way to send messages that include multimedia content to and from mobile phones.
    • SMS: A text message sent on a cell phone.

    Mobile Marketing

    This type of marketing allows marketers and advertisers to promote products and services over mobile devices including cellular phones, smartphones, portable media players and tablets.

    According to marketing professor Andreas Kaplan, mobile marketing is, “Any marketing activity conducted through a ubiquitous network to which consumers are constantly connected using a personal mobile device”. Because mobile marketing is conducted using wireless networks, it is also known as “wireless marketing”. Marketing communications on mobile devices is generally carried out via text messages or applications. Since consumers typically carry their mobile devices with them throughout the day, mobile marketing presents a cost-effective way for brands to deliver targeted messaging across different platforms.


    QR Code Promotion: These are increasingly being used in mobile advertising campaigns to increase user engagement.

    Types of Mobile Marketing

    One of the most popular forms of mobile advertising is text messaging. During the early 2000s, marketing through cell phones’ Short Message Service (SMS) became increasingly common in Europe and parts of Asia. Consequently, SMS marketing has become a legitimate advertising channel in both developed and developing economies around the world. On average, it is estimated that SMS messages are read within four minutes after delivery to a mobile device. This makes mobile marketing highly attractive to brands looking for marketing communication channels with high lead-to-conversion rates.

    Unlike SMS, Multimedia Message Service (MMS) mobile marketing combines the delivery of images, text, audio and video. Nearly all new phones with a color screen are capable of sending and receiving standard MMS messages. Brands are able to both send and receive rich content through MMS A2P (application-to-person) mobile networks to mobile subscribers. In some networks, brands are also able to sponsor messages sent P2P (person-to-person).

    Push notifications have become popular due to their use on smartphones using iOS and Android operating systems. These notifications appear at the top of the device’s screen and serve as efficient mechanisms for communicating directly with end-users. Although it can potentially be viewed as interruptive by the end user, its long-term costs are lower than SMS marketing.

    Game mobile marketing provides additional opportunities for brands looking to deliver promotional messaging within mobile games. Some companies sponsor entire games to drive consumer engagement, a practice known as mobile advergaming or ad-funded mobile gaming.

    Mobile content advertising schemes provided by the likes of Yahoo! and Google allow brands to purchase keywords specifically for mobile advertisements. Additionally, web forms on web pages can be used to integrate with mobile texting sources for reminders about meetings, seminars and other important events for users who are away from their laptop or desktop computers.

    Quick response (QR) codes have also gained in popularity after first being introduced in European and Asian mobile markets. Acting as a visual hyper-link to a page, QR codes enable users to jump to a mobile optimized offer page. QR codes only began to be used in mobile advertising in North America from 2011. Companies recognized the technology as a very powerful tool for initiating consumer engagement at a time when the marketing message is likely triggering its most emotional response — the impulse moment — for the end user.

    In addition to QR codes, other tools used by mobile marketers to improve targeted messaging and reduce marketing costs include location-based services, Bluetooth technology, and proximity systems such as Short Message Service – Cell Broadcast (SMS-CB).

    Advantages and Disadvantages of Mobile Marketing

    Some of the key advantages of mobile marketing are the close proximity of owners’ mobile devices, as well as the habitual nature of using cell phones, smartphones and computer tablets. Distributing promotional and advertising messages customized according to the recipient’s location, geography and personal interests through wireless networks makes mobile marketing highly cost-effective given the potential reach and scope of the audience.

    However, mobile marketing practices present challenges around privacy concerns over user data. Push marketing tactics — mobile advertising that is sent without consumers’ required permission – have caused privacy violations. Although mobile advertising has become increasingly popular with the growing use of tablets and smartphones, numerous concerns have emerged due to the personal nature and close proximity of mobile devices to users. Some of the major concerns around privacy include mobile spam, personal identification, location information and wireless security.

    Industry bodies including the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Mobile Marketing Association have established guidelines to prevent SPAM messages and the practice of carriers selling member databases to third parties.

    However, these self-regulatory rules are also in place to support marketers looking to incorporate mobile marketing into their larger marketing communications strategies.

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