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CPGs step up their mobile marketing game

Consumer packaged goods companies are starting to get more innovative in using mobile applications, rich media ads and QR codes to have a more direct relationship with consumers.

For the most part, CPGs have been slow to adopt mobile marketing with the exception of some a few visionaries such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever. This is starting to change, with a wider group of marketers starting to embrace mobile while some of the early adopters are stepping up their game.

?A majority of CPGs are slowly experimenting with mobile while others who started early are seeing the return and continuing to invest heavily in the channel,? said Dirk Rients, management director for mobile at Draftfcb, Chicago.

?CPGs are taking a closer look at mobile because consumers are constantly turning to their mobile devices to make purchases or help them shop while in-store,? he said.

?Unfortunately we still see a majority of CPG brands view mobile as its own separate channel while others are integrating mobile into their overall strategy allowing for an engaging experience at scale.?

App happy
It is because of the growth in smartphone adoption and the strength of initial results that companies such as Kraft, Johnson & Johnson and Kellogg are beginning to take a more active role in mobile.

One of the areas where these brands are most active is in developing mobile applications that engage consumers with their brands in value-add way and help develop a more direct relationship between brand and consumer.

This spring, Johnson & Johnson introduced the Magic Vision app for its Band-Aid brand. The app enables children with a booboo and wearing a Band-Aid bandage featuring the Muppets to launch an augmented reality animated show designed to help them forget all about their booboo.

Another innovative example is the Aquafresh Time2Brush app, also directed at kids. The app provides directions on how to brush teeth in a fun, interactive way and counts down from two minutes to insure kids brush for length of time recommended by dentists.

?There are a growing number of examples of CPGs doing a good job leveraging mobility to develop a direct relationship with consumers,? said Dan Israel, Atlanta-based strategy lead for mobile practice at SapientNitro.

?Brands are getting into this game and providing something that is of relevance to consumers,? he said. ?The next step is making these experiences more contextually relevant based on location and frequency of use.

?What mobile is doing is it making it much easier to get front and center and to have that direct relationship with consumers without an intermediary."

Embracing QR codes
CPG brands are also particularly enamored of QR codes and other 2D bar codes, putting them on packaging, ads and elsewhere to engage in-store shoppers and provide a value-add via product information, coupons or recipes.

These initial efforts are starting to give way to more innovative use of QR codes.

In June, Walmart and P&G placed QR codes on bus shelters and trucks to encourage on-the-go consumers to scan and instantly buy products from brands such as Tide, Pampers and Gillette. The campaign targeted shoppers in Chicago and New York.

?CPGs have the most to gain from mobile because now they can have a direct relationship with consumers and have an opportunity to make themselves contextually relevant and intertwine themselves into that person?s lifestyle,? SapientNitro?s Mr. Israel said.

?Brands have an opportunity to have a much bigger impact through new brand ambassadors by having that direct relationship,? he said.

Following the audience
Advertising is another area where CPG brands are beginning to get more innovative with rich media ads and in-app ads targeting specific groups.

Mobile offers brands key benefits such as the ability to target an audience based on a variety of criteria. Additionally, mobile increasingly offers rich media ad units based on HTML5 technology that can help drive engagements.

Jumptap reports that CPG marketers see an average 34 percent lift in click-through rates when applying data targeting and engagement rates for CPG marketers using HTML5 average 17 percent.

P&G reportedly spends more than $10 million on mobile advertising annually. Other CPGs are not spending at the same level in part because measurement and metrics in mobile need to improve before they will be willing to allocate more spend to mobile.

Another challenge for CPGs that is getting in the way of them allocating more of their marketing budgets to mobile is figuring out how to integrate mobile with their other marketing efforts.

Despite these issues, there is no denying that consumers are increasingly engaging with their mobile devices for a variety of activities, from consuming content to comparing prices in stores.

As a result, it makes sense for any major brand to be where their consumers are.

?Advertisers need to follow their audience,? said Paran Johar, chief marketing officer at Jumptap, Cambridge, MA. ?With 50 percent of the US owning a smartphone, consumers are dictating to all advertisers how they want to receive their message and where.

?At Jumptap, we?re seeing mobile click-through rates that are double and triple internet click-through rates - those numbers are a big factor in a brand?s decision to leverage mobile,? he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York