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May 21, 2010

We’d like to talk to you, and you, and you…

Ovi-StoreGLOBAL – Guess what folks, brands want to talk to you. Nokia is doing it right now, by virtue of the fact you’re on its official blog. Nothing new here, really, it’s been happening for years. First in newspapers, then on radio and TV and latterly on the internet. It’s part of how the world works. But what about on your phone? There are numerous ways for brands to put themselves in the palm of your hand, but which is the most effective?

Some brands place a huge value on the potential of being able to engage with potential customers on their mobile device. There’s something about the very personal nature of it that appeals. And it’s easy to see why. But how effective is it, or to put it another way, what’s the most effective way to do it?

Right now there are myriad ways for brands to interact. Mobile advertising on mobile websites is one of the most prominent. Increasingly brands are hopping on the app bandwagon and making their own apps available, either directly related to the goods and services they offer, or through supporting another app or game. Others, meanwhile, focus on inclusion and opt for the mobile website approach, making it available on every device and every platform.

Mobile advertising has been credited with helping to build Nokia’s reportedly substantial share of the mobile music market in Europe. Although it’s only one example, it does suggest that advertising on mobile devices works (though I’ve never clicked on a mobile ad myself). Some desktop-focussed websites are actually starting to remove banners and buttons, choosing instead to offer branded content as a means to fund their existence. With relatively low click through rates and a large amount of noise, it’s quite difficult to pull off an effective ad campaign on a website. Does it follow that it’s equally difficult on a mobile device?

More interestingly, I think, is the introduction of branded applications. Take the Red Bull Stratos app, which enables users to track the activity of Felix Baumgartner as he makes his way to the edge of space for a mighty parachute jump. The app is free to download on the Ovi Store, offers users some great insight into the jump and Felix’s activities and gives the jump’s sponsor, Red Bull some great exposure. Everyone’s a winner. Other brands offer apps which are directly related to what the company does. Apps such as DB Mobile by Deutsche Bahn gives users real time information on trains and transport in Germany offering increased awareness for Deutsche Bahn and genuinely useful information for users.

One of the next evolutions we’re seeing is the introduction of advertising within mobile apps. Ovi has a unique take on this, with the use of Ovi Maps and the facility for brands to give even more useful, relevant information to users (given that it’s based on location) and increasing Maps’ functionality in the process, through increased points of interest. Earlier this year McDonalds carried out a test campaign with Ovi Maps users in Finland, offering a €1 cheesburger and in the process obtaining a seven per cent click through rate (typical internet ads return less than one per cent click through). Whilst undoubtedly commercial, the initiative offers genuine value to all concerned. For McDonalds it gives them broader reach within its store’s surrounding area, hitting people who are mobile and potentially hungry. For the user it offers them a discount incentive, but as the voucher appears through Ovi Maps, they can also navigate to the store easily to redeem it.

The potential for brands to talk to us as consumers on our mobile devices is huge. There’s no doubting that. How it manifests itself though, I think will be very interesting. For me, mobile advertising in the traditional form of banners and buttons holds little sway – If I haven’t clicked on one of those by now, I’m unlikely to do so in the future (though that is just a sample of one). However, if a brand wants to give me something, or pay for me to have something complimentary, I’m a little bit more interested. Add in some location awareness and a discount incentive and you could probably say I’m hooked. What about you?