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Ford turns to mobile to showcase new car model

Ford Flex saw a 1.41 percent click-through-rate from a mobile campaign that Ford Motor Co. used to promote the launch of the new car model by driving consumers to the Flex WAP site.

The three-month nationwide campaign optimized engagement on sites that combined a high-income audience together with stylish trendsetters. More than 3.5 million impressions were served.

"We look at SMS as the gateway drug to mobile," said Alec S. Andronikov, chief mobilizer and CEO of MoVoxx, Santa Monica, CA. "This campaign used MoVoxx's mobile targeting capabilities that recognize the user's device and serve a device-appropriate ad.

"The significance is that there is zero waste of ad impressions this way," he said.

MoVoxx created the campaign for Ford. The mobile marketing company provides marketers with mobile audience reach by partnering with SMS content publishers who deliver real-time messages to millions of consumers on a daily basis.

MoVoxx serves short, interactive ads under opt-in SMS content to enhance branding, drive direct response and provide measurable campaign results.

The 2009 Ford Flex is a seven-passenger crossover SUV, with genuine seven-passenger accommodations, high-quality interior materials, unique styling and optional all-wheel drive.

For the call-to-action part of the campaign, Ford's ads were inserted at the bottom of Dow Jones' MarketWatch alerts.

The bottom of the MarketWatch message had ad units that worked best with the consumer's mobile phone.

For example, a video-capable phone got a link to a rich media video ad of the Ford Flex.

The video showcased the Flex as a car with a daring personality yet also smart, stimulating and electric.

A user with a less capable phone would receive a link to the Flex's WAP site at http://fflex.us/1.

Once on the WAP site users could learn more about the car by viewing photos. They could also find a dealership near them.The site also gives users the option of requesting a brochure.

So, why was mobile, specifically SMS, the ideal medium for this campaign? SMS has the highest reach of any mobile ad medium.

In fact, studies show that 95 percent of mobile phones are SMS-enabled and 40 percent have unlimited SMS.

Also, because most consumers use their mobile phone for calls and text, they tend to respond to mobile advertising.

Additionally, studies show that consumers recall SMS advertising. The most commonly recalled mobile ads are those in SMS. A whopping 60 million consumers recalled seeing SMS ads in the third quarter of 2008 compared to 31 million on the Mobile Web, according to GFK/NOP Research.

This isn't the first time Ford has turned to mobile to promote the Flex.

The car company teamed up with mobile advertising network Quattro Wireless to deliver mobile banner ads and a new mobile Web site for the Flex.

Also, earlier in 2008, Ford rolled out a campaign to promote its Ford Flex and mobile was an aspect of the promotion.

Ford and Team Detroit focused its efforts on creating new applications for the iPhone and Yahoo. The car company also ran banner ads in Yahoo Go.

"For Ford, mobile is a means of engaging with consumers who are on the go," Mr. Andronikov said. "There isn't a lot of media clutter on the mobile phone like there is online.

"Also, online, the cost per lead is significantly higher--as much as two-to-three times higher," he said. "Mobile also presents brands with the ability to target groups very well."