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There is no such thing as a mobile campaign

By Gary Schwartz

Before you quietly gasp and run off to cancel your subscription to Mobile Marketer, look around. The world continues to buy media vertically -- television, radio, print, even online is farmed off to the digital agency and bought as a segmented buy.

If you run mobile as a standalone campaign, it is doomed to the graveyard of "Yes-I-tried"mobile case studies.

Mobile is an integrated part of the buy and would not exist, in most cases, without the 360-degree plan. Why? Mobile is primarily a pull media. It needs to be added to the traditional push media to come to life and work its magic.

The most touted example of mobile "pull"is when the brand uses the phone as a "mobile mouse"and the short code as the "mobile click"to activate its media.

Live Nation and AEG leverage their digital display boards and drive the concert-goer to the sponsor's intended destination, far beyond the venue. Using mobile sweeps, PINs and coupons as incentives, mobile works to engage and bridge the consumer to high-ROI destinations.

Coca-Cola's PIN-on-Product mobile affinity program has no start date or end date -- just a continual channel that turns the phone into a reward card allowing consumers to add points to their account as they leave the convenience store.

Why are these approaches to mobile effective?

Because all of the above short code examples are not run as one-off campaigns but as an always-on, cross-media channel.

Mobile is an interactive pull element that helps these media clients dialogue with their consumer. It is an always-on element of the media mix and it connects media dots that historically never dialogued.

The same holds true for good mobile Web design.

Let's look at J. C. Penney's Black Friday or current Valentine's Day services.

Click on a mobile banner and link to the JCPenney mobile Web site and you will see the same toolkit of options that help the consumer move effectively into the store: find the deal (click2sms), find the store (click2sms), get a wakeup call for the sale (click2call) -- mobile is allowing the consumer to move seamlessly from clicks2bricks.

Go to American Eagle's and pick a hoodie. Want to try it on before you buy it? No problem: click the "send to phone"button. The hoodie image plus the nearest store is sent to your phone to help you bridge this cross-channel chiasm.

You are not the only cross-channel shopper.

A recent Forrester Research consumer survey found that more than half of consumers buying in bricks-and-mortar begin their research process online. Cross-channel shopping is expected to top $1 trillion by 2012.

Although consumers are actively cross-channel shopping for their considered purchases, brands and retailers fail to create a seamless multichannel shopping experience.

The shopper is way ahead of us simple media folk: they are channel-agnostic.

While the media planner continues to buy media vertically, mobile is one of the only media elements that can help the consumer move from the hoodie on the billboard to the hoodie online to the hoodie in the aisle.

So in a world of vertical buying, mobile is a horizontal. It effectively helps the planner connect the dots. And in connecting the brand's media touch points it drives incremental value on the vertical buy by aiding measurability and accountability on the buy.

More importantly, mobile is helping move consumers from the ad placement to the where the brand needs them to be -- point-of-sale, online store or lead-generation engine.

If media planners continue to see mobile as an independent campaign that is not designed to specifically bridge the consumer, then they are missing the value of the mobile channel. Then, mobile will inevitably not drive ROI in the 360-degree media plan, ending up a media also-ran.

Gary Schwartz is president of mobile marketing firm Impact Mobile Inc., Toronto, Ontario. Reach him at .