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Mobile drives response for BMW U.S. campaign

German automaker BMW was a pioneer in using short Internet movies to pique interest in its cars. Now it has integrated mobile marketing with traditional media -- out-of-home airport signage -- to activate typically static ads as it seeks more U.S. business.

Using Boston-based Cielo Group Inc., BMW today places short codes -- five-digit phone numbers -- on signs at 14 major airports nationwide. A consumer who taps in the short code and a keyword receives a deep link to a mobile application promoting BMW's new convertible.

Among other features, the application includes BMW video -- or a photo gallery for phones lacking video capability -- and a button to schedule a test drive at a local dealer. From keywords, BMW can measure the effectiveness of each sign within each airport, while capturing mobile consumers.

Short codes allow BMW to embed deep links that contain campaign-specific segmentation and tracking parameters. A simple top-level URL -- for example, www.bmw.com -- lacks measurement for targeted ads.

The results of BMW's first mobile campaign are under wraps. But it has worked sufficiently to lead the automaker to introduce two additional campaigns for other vehicles.

Steven Feldman, vice president of marketing at Cielo Group, discussed the BMW mobile application and the campaign in detail. Mobile Marketer editor in chief Mickey Alam Khan interviewed. Excerpts:

What is this campaign called?
"Hug the Road, Hug the Sky." Subheading on sign: "Text BMW LAX to 33992, because the car won't tell you where to go." The idea being that the mobile micro site will tell the consumer where to go to find the nearest dealer for a test drive.

First time for BMW to do something like this?
Yes. BMW North America launched its first out-of-home campaign this past spring in April, promoting the Series 3 convertible with a call to action to call the consumer's nearest dealer to arrange a test drive.

Although BMW does not release performance statistics, the results of the spring campaign led to the Series 550 automobile this summer and the Series 535 this fall -- all on signs at 14 major airports across the country.

Target for this effort?
By targeting major airports, BMW reached high-income travelers, many with time on their hands while waiting for flights or baggage. Each campaign ran for three months.

Strategy for BMW here?
Extend the value of BMW's out-of-home ad spend by linking airport signs to a mobile micro site. Mobile marketing became the long tail that existed well after an airport traveler would pass a sign. By activating otherwise static airport signage, BMW made these signs interactive and measurable.

The use of short codes and keywords (one for each airport, i.e. "BMW LAX") enabled BMW to gauge the visibility of signs at particular airports. BMW could track how many consumers texted to the micro site, how many viewed the video -- or photographs if their phones did not support streaming video; the application automatically detects the carrier and capabilities of each phone -- and how many consumers clicked to contact a dealer.

The results:

â?¢ Higher response rates than mobile ad serving, since traditional media captures more eyeballs
â?¢ Directly influenced net outside sales by moving consumers into the showroom
â?¢ Cielo's mobile application also gathered a large number of verifiable emails.
â?¢ Responses to short codes measured the effectiveness of specific signs and markets.

How key was the mobile component?
Mobile served as the ultimate direct-response mechanism in the pockets of all consumers, hungry for free content on their mobile phones.

Why did BMW use mobile?
By activating mass-market traditional media, mobile enables a consumer to respond to an ad when his or her interest is at its peak.

BMW is not dependent on consumers remembering to look up a URL when they get to their destination. Even if they did remember and retained the level of interest to do so, a consumer would only visit a top-level URL such as www.bmw.com, not a long, cryptic detailed mobile URL -- or deep link -- that drives the consumer to a specific mobile campaign and call to action.

Deep links also contains demographic and segmentation information useful for targeting.

Did you work with BMW's agency on this?
Yes, with The Marketing Arm/GSD&M, which is an Omnicom company.

Do give a few examples of your work for other clients.
1. During and after this year's Super Bowl, Cielo streamed the 30-second spots of Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser commercials to fans who voted on their favorite commercials. Recipients forwarded commercials to friends for a viral effect. Given that Anheuser-Busch spent $2.6 million for each 30-second spot, a mobile site allowing consumers to watch the commercials long after the game was an excellent way to extend the value of A-B's ad spend.

2. Built micro sites for Bank of America home loans, discovered when consumers clicked on mobile banner ads placed on Verizon's Get It Now portal. Cielo detected each consumer's handset type during the click-through and tailored the mobile site specifically for their phone's capabilities. Results: Within the first week, Verizon served 600,000 Bank of America impressions resulting in 53,825 click-throughs to Cielo's application and a mobile click-through rate of 8.9%.

3. A recruiting mobile application for the United States Air Force showing exciting Top-Gun-like video and benefits of joining that military branch. The Air Force highlighted the application at events it sponsored. 2D bar codes were used to enable consumers to take pictures of images on posters in order to show particular videos on their phones.

Can this work for other clients and categories?
Yes, virtually all consumer brands can tap the mass-market power of their traditional ads for discovery and distribution of their mobile presence and to gain interactivity and measurement of otherwise static media.

Anything interesting emerge from this mobile effort?
Yes, from this mobile effort and others, consumer brands begin to understand that their mobile micro WAP site can also serve as the discovery point -- through a menu choice -- to download a handset-resident mobile application with entertainment and social-media features.

This application provides the brand with a persistent mobile destination, allowing the company to carve out its own real-estate on the phone. Updated content, photo galleries and videos, and the ability for consumers to upload their own content, encourages consumers to use the application every day. It provides the brand with a direct and continuous connection with consumers, who can be polled and communicated with, gathering profiling information for targeting.

What next for BMW?
More of the same. Evaluating integration with other forms of traditional media including television.

Reach Steven Feldman at .