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How the mobile Internet affects brands

By Jonathan Ellis

Consumer adoption of mobile Internet devices is exploding and mobile is emerging as a truly viable marketing medium for brands.

Despite issues of privacy, spam and the ongoing fragmentation of operating systems, recent mobile marketing success stories, based on coupon distribution or voting, have revealed that consumers are indeed willing to participate in timely and relevant campaigns.

Mobile marketing is still in its relative infancy in Asia and 2010 is unlikely to have been seen as the year of mobile.

App slap
The winning solution has yet to emerge and it is very evident that push mobile marketing ? i.e. non-requested display advertising or SMS marketing, as in Asia?s case ? is widely seen today as spam by the consumer.

Brands need to pay attention to this fact and take care how they use mobile as a platform to communicate with their potential customer.

Added to this is the worrying increase in companies tracking consumers to optimize their ad serving capabilities. This is a growing concern for consumers since people do not want to be necessarily tracked on this most personal of devices.

There is, of course, the application phenomenon which has proved very popular for gaming and social networking on mobile.

However, there have been many reports and discussions about how effective the application really is for brands.

It has been stated that mobile users engage with between three to five applications on their phones.

Most of these applications tend to be gaming or social and less than 10 percent of mobile owners still use an application one week after they download it.

One could even go as far to say that the mobile application phenomenon is nothing more than the equivalent of the ring tone business for the new generation of phones.

Ideally, brands need to find solutions on mobile where the consumer can activate the relationship.

As technology rapidly advances, we are moving from a push model to one of pull. People no longer want to be pushed unwanted or the wrong kind of information.

The draw of pull
In recent years pull-based mobile services have sat firmly within short code marketing.

However, up until now, short codes have been a local telecoms walled-garden business based on SMS text messaging.

Today, consumers want to take charge. They decide what they want, when they want and how they want.

With the advent of the mobile Internet explosion, we believe that short code marketing will be upgraded. It needs to be simplified to provide consumers a one-step direct access to personalized mobile experiences.

The trick in mobile marketing is making the process easy to deploy for any brand and easy to adopt for any consumer.

The upgraded version of SMS text messaging will come in the form of short code URL messaging.

By fusing the very best of pull mobile marketing ? the short code ? with the very best attribute of the Internet ? search ? one can devise a new search engine of short codes. 

Creating an editor of telco-independent shortcodes ? numeric or branded ? that can be linked to one or more different mobile sites for location-based marketing solutions is an attractive solution for brands today.

A search engine that can be accessed by the consumers via a simple Web browser or an application provides a scalable route to market.

If you can retrieve a mobile offer linked to a short code whilst analyzing a consumer?s environment ? i.e. handset, time, location ? one can provide brands with a delivery system to provide instant personalized offers. 

As the SMS short code system was a gateway between brands and consumers to engage in the exchange of text messages, similarly short code URL messaging can become a gateway to invite consumers to visit a mobile site with a personalized experience.

Calling right on mobile
For many years, media agencies, clients and mobile marketers have tried to use mobile as a standalone medium. Television has a budget, out of home has a budget, online has a budget and, now, so does mobile.

Brands need to change how they consider mobile marketing. Mobile can be the perfect bridge between your media campaigns and your potential consumers.

Taking the SMS experience, but making it free for the consumer to pull to their phone means brands can engage in one-on-one conversations and deliver their potential customers personalized experiences and offers.

Access to the Internet on mobile is fundamentally changing the way consumers use the Web and their phone.

Handset proliferation of new Internet-connected devices is exceeding all current expectations, and as market appetite for the mobile Internet continues to grow, so will data charges fall.

In conclusion I will give this advice to marketers: do not develop a mobile strategy for your brand.

Instead, integrate the mobile into your entire media strategy with a pull mechanism enabling you to interact with your consumers in real time via a requested relationship.

Jonathan Ellis is CEO of TheTMSWay Ltd., Hong Kong, China. Reach him at .