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For marketers working in mobile, talk about cellphones being on the verge of breaking out can feel more than a bit repetitive. At least that's the way Brian Levin of Useful Networks put it at the Location Awareness panel at Ad:Tech today.

"I feel a little like Bill Murray in 'Groundhog's Day.' I was on this panel last year."

Despite all the technological progress and increased user adoption that mobile phones have experience in the past few years, they still occupy only a small percentage of most marketing budgets.

Amid all of the promise held out in the future of mobile, how is the market actually going to break out? The panelists at Ad:Tech's panel on location werein agreement on a few things (besides the Corona's that were served on stage to celebrate impending happy hour).

A lot of it will rely on users self-reporting their data. 

The numbers regarding mobile adoption are not entirely rosy. For instance, smartphones stil only have 12.5% penetration of the mobile market in the U.S., according to ComScore. That will change by next year, as the iPhone and other smartphones penetrate the market at increasingly lower price points.

But other data is more bothersome. Like the fact that most smartphone users are not interested in receiving marketing messages on their phones. Accordng to Opus Research, over half of mobile users are not excited about getting deals on their mobile phones: 37% are not very interested, and 20% are not at all interested.

So how do you market to people who've already made it clear they don't want to hear from you? One way is to wait until they contact you.

That's the approach that Naveen Selvadurai, cofounder of mobile check-in service Foursquare, prefers:

"My time is probably more valuable when I'm looking at my phone than when I'm sitting in front of my TV. That's why the check-in approach — giving a brand permission to reach out to you — is appealing."

Bringing value to the customer is also how Alistair Goodman, CEO of placecast, approaches mobile projects:

"If you start with the consumer and think 'how am I going to create something they find valuable?" and take that as the premise, you can design something that's actually pull."

Bringing in information on a more granular level direct from consumers helps protect against privacy issues — if someone shares their location, they're clearly ok with your brand knowing where they are. But it can also provide that valuable word — context. According to Selvadurai:

 "We know your social network, we know the places you hang out at. By collecting data at that level, we can tailor experiences for the user and also the venue. That's more valuable for the consumer than anonymous data that someone like Google can provide you."

Mobile may have been on the precipice of explodign for the past decade, but things have clearly been picking up pace. And Goodman for one is tired of the Groundhog's Day reference:

"Think back a year to where we were. Now we're acutally running campaigns that are pure mobile campaigns. We weren't seeing that a year ago."

Meghan Keane

Published 4 November, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

721 more posts from this author

Comments (1)

Doug Kessler

Doug Kessler, Director at VelocitySmall Business Multi-user

Mobile may be happening slower than heralded but it will be even bigger than the hype when it arrives. Users say they don't want marketing messages on their mobiles but they're probably thinking about unsolicitied spam. The same people will sing up for apps, services & updates from their favourite brands. Without doubt. The delay is more about the mobile industry and marketing community getting right than it is about user reluctance. When the content and user experience are right, mobile is unstoppable.

almost 7 years ago

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