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Relevance is key to mobile advertising: ThinkMobile panelist

NEW YORK - What are the elements of an effective mobile campaign? What should brands be doing to expand their reach into the mobile channel?

A panel of experts at MediaBistro's ThinkMobile Conference and Expo in New York answered these questions. The panel shared what they did, how they did it and what the future holds for customer engagement via mobile.

"When it comes to mobile advertising, relevance is the most important factor," said Sophia Stuart, executive director of mobile for Hearst Magazines Digital Media, New York. "Right now display ads are seeing the highest return on mobile, but soon it's going to be search advertising.

"People don't want to type URLs into their handset, so search queries and search-engine optimization are even more important on mobile," she said.

Hearst Digital Media's tagline is "I had no idea my phone could do that!"

The magazine publisher has nine mobile sites, including Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Seventeen, Cosmo Girl, House Beautiful, Esquire, Marie Claire, Bazaar and Cosmopolitan.

All together, Hearst's mobile sites get 5 million page views per month, 350,000 unique users and distributions across all tier-one carriers, plus an off-deck WAP presence.

Other than Esquire, which targets men, all of the other titles target women.

Working with Nokia and Jumptap, Hearst served 11 million mobile ad impressions in 2008.

Brands that have advertised on Hearst's mobile sites include 20th Century Fox, Nordstrom, JC Penney, Paramount Pictures, Proctor & Gamble, Toyota and Unilever.

20th Century Fox ran advertising on Hearst site to promote the street sale date of the What Happens In Vegas DVD. The ad campaign appeared on Marie Claire and Cosmo's mobile sites.

If consumers preordered the DVD, they were entered to win a trip to Las Vegas.

The execution was via banner ads, a quiz and a click-to-purchase link to Amazon. The results were 1 million impressions served.

Alexandre Mars, CEO of Phonevalley and head of mobile for Publicis Groupe, Paris, discussed two Puma case studies, one targeting soccer fans across Europe (see story), the other targeting Formula 1 racing fans in China (see story).

"For us, the strategy at the core of mobile campaigns is the most important aspect, but we also provide the creative, technology and media parts of the equation," Mr. Mars said. "Search, display, video and iPhone ads all bring new audiences to mobile sites, so choose the ad unit depending on the category of the client."

Michael Nevins, senior partner and group director of GroupM, discussed a campaign it ran on behalf of Toshiba to promote its laptops.

The campaign included conversational push SMS, banner ads, a mobile Web site with Toshiba products and an iPhone-specific site.

In-store stickers on Toshiba laptops prompted consumers to text their your question to short code 397378.

The goal was to reach consumers at the point of purchase while actively shopping; provide useful and relevant info via community and blog experts taking advantage of the popularity of social media; and allow for personalization of the information provided via mobile.

Overall brand metrics revealed that exposure to the Toshiba mobile campaign drove increases in Brand Favorability, Purchase Intent and Unaided Awareness, which saw a 900 percent lift.

"Having a clear campaign objective is the most important factor, because ROI is a function of what the objective was in the first place," said Eric Bader, cofounder/president of BrandInHand. "For P&G and Unilever, if your objective is to put names in a text club database to reach out to a new audience, and you spend money towards that objective, you'll achieve that.

"Mobile is an ?and,' it's not a replacement for anything, so rather than thinking of replacing TV, print and online ads, think of it as a complement," he said. "Any clients stuffing paper into mailboxes, shift money from that activity into mobile, because it doesn't have the social stigma or poor open rate performance of direct mail."