September 26, 2008
Academic Review: Mobile Marketing: Convergence of Media & Mobile
Michael Becker, EVP, Business Development, iLoop Mobile, Inc.
It is here.  The mobile channel is here and the practice of mobile marketing is a viable practice for rich, personal, interactive one-on-one consumer engagement.  Not just for awareness building sweepstakes and related promos, but for consumer engagement across every stage of the “engaged” customer lifecycle.  Yes, consumers are engaged, they expect control and are wielding their voice, their thumbs some might say, more and more.  The mobile channel is here and it is time that marketers recognize this and begin to learn to embrace it—you’re not too late.
Brand Example: Barak Obama for America
It does not matter what your politics are, you don’t have to like Barak Obama or plan on voting for him, or maybe you love him, but regardless of which camp you’re in as a marketer you have to be impressed with his effective of use of integrated media—including mobile. 
Just look at what Barak Obama’s team has been doing with mobile and not just with mobile, but also with all media.  The Obama team gets it. They’ve embraced digital media like no other brand we’ve seen.  They’re using the web (, social networking and communities (, email, text messaging (text HOPE to 62262), digital media (PDFs, ringtones, videos, wallpapers), the mobile Internet (text SITE to 62262) and countless other mediums to get the word out.  As noted, they’re not just getting the word out themselves, they’ve embraced the social-sphere, recognized that we no longer simply manage our brand, but the brand cloud—meaning the consumers have as much if not more to say about our brands and how they’re accepted and interpreted than we, the marketers, do. These self-proclaimed evangelist and contributors of the social-sphere, the consumers with a voice/thumbs, grab and expound on our message whether we like it or not.  Rather than shying away from this out of fear, the Obama team has embraced this trend and has used it to their advantage, along with all the channels available to them, including mobile.
The mobile channel—so what?
The mobile channel you ask? So what you say?  Why should I care? Yah, Obama can pull it off, but it won’t work for me—my clients aren’t adopting it.  My traditional channels are working just fine.
We’ll, lets take a look.  Consumers are spread far and wide.  Traditional media is fragmenting.  Our once standalone media channels, TV, Radio, Print, Outdoor Media, Cinema are no longer standalone.  Moreover we’ve gone from just a few to literally thousands, hundreds of thousands, of channels if you consider the Internet.  Consumers are becoming harder to reach.
And, if this were not enough, we’re loosing control of our content. In times past content was produced for and consumed on a single channel.  No longer.  Today, content has jumped its boundaries and is now consumed not just on its original channel, but over numerous channels and media.  You see video (tv, movies, etc.) not just at home or at the cinema but in hotels, on computers, iPods, DVD Players, in the car and on mobile phones.  Print material (newspapers, magazines, books, and more), well these too have left the printed page and now the material is disseminated far and wide, accessible on computers, can be read for you, viewed on the phone.   And, if this where not all enough, consumers are creating and consumer their own content, forgoing the traditional content generators for their own content.
Times have changed, and the mobile phone is at the center of this change.  The mobile phone, as pointed out by Tomi Ahonen (a leading author in all that is mobile, see, is unique and unlike any other medium that came before it.  Today, all past media in one way or another can be delivered and consumed via the mobile phone and similar wireless terminals.  This can’t be said for other media, other channels.  I certainly can’t watch a movie on my newspaper, but I certainly can read my newspaper and watch a movie on my phone.
The facts above, however, simply speak to mobile’s capability, not to its use.  We’ll, the mobile phone is in use.  In fact, eight-five percent of households in the U.S. are mobile (meaning one or more members has a mobile phone), there over 263 million mobile subscriber in the U.S., over 3 billion worldwide (compared to just over 1 billion Internet subscribers).  Many of these mobile subscribers have adopted mobile as their primary means of communication, so much so in fact that in the U.S., for instance, nearly fifteen percent of the population has cut the cord to their landline phone all together and is simply, well, mobile.  This trend will not be abated any time soon.
Mobile is not standalone—putting it in the plan
The mobile channel is an important medium, but lets not get ahead of ourselves.  The mobile channel is nowhere near a standalone medium, as least not yet and not for the foreseeable future.  Given the need for expressed consent, i.e. the need for permission from the consumer, before a marketer can engage the consumer on their phone, traditional media still holds a massively critical place in the rich, diverse (and still fairly complicated) mobile marketing ecosystem (see  Traditional media is the means by which marketers promote the call-to-action for their mobile programs.  It is the field where the invitation to participate is put forth.  Print, TV, outdoor media, and retail have never been more important given this context.
In addition, the mobile phone, the mobile channel, the mobile ecosystem still needs time to mature.  True, mass marketing mobile mediums—Voice, SMS and increasingly so the mobile Internet have their place, solidly in a mass market strategic marketing plan, but niche market mobile mediums like video, social networking, Bluetooth and others are still finding their way to productive “mass market” marketing applicability.  They’ll get there, fast, and they’re incredibly useful for niche markets today, however it will just take some more time before they’re ready for prime time.
Don’t loose site of the big picture
As exciting as the mobile channel can be, and as enticing as the idea of launching a great mobile marketing campaign is, don’t loose site of the big picture.  The American Marketing Association (2007) defines the practice of marketing as follows:
“…the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
Therefore, it follows suite that the practice of mobile marketing embodies the mobile enactment of “activities, institutions and processes that support marketers in their pursuit to communicate, deliver, and exchange offers that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
Mobile marketing is an element of marketing, and it should be noted that the widely touted concept of mobile advertising is simply an element of mobile marketing.  We must look to weave these practices into our broader marketing strategies and use them to generate value, not just because we think they’re cool, but because that is our job as markers—we communicate, deliver and exchange value.
Wrapping it up, in order to go forward
Mobile marketing is an emerging and important marketing practice, one that can generate demonstrable results.  In can be used to inform, entertain, generate loyalty and provide care.  It can be used to exchange value—not just in one direction, but both directions between the marketer and the consumer. 
The face of marketing is changing, and it is the responsibility of each and every marketer, and for the market, to either adapt with the change or face extinction.  This is not a statement intended to generate fear; rather it, is a statement intended to unleash possibility. 
There are numerous free and memberships centers of knowledge and excellence our there, centers with resources at your disposal, including the Mobile Marketing Association, the International Journal of Mobile Marketing, 3GSM, CTIA, IAB, the DotMobi Mobile Advisory Group, Neustar (www., a plethora of vendors, marketing practitioners and agencies, academics and institutions, brands and more, that are ready and willing to help each and everyone of us to learn to embrace the mobile channel and to use it to communicate, deliver and exchange value.   They’re ready–consumers, are you.  The time is now, get going. Don’t’ be limited by self-imposed limitations, reach out and try it.  Start small, slowly grow your mobile practice and as your organization and market grows with it you’ll find success.
About the Author
MICHAEL BECKER is a leader in the mobile marketing industry, assuming the roles of industry entrepreneur, volunteer, and academic.  Mr. Becker is EVP of Business Development at iLoop Mobile, Inc. a leading mobile marketing solutions provider. iLoop Mobile was awarded the MMA Innovation of the Year Award, November 2007. He sits on the Mobile Marketing Association North American and Global Board of Directors, Co-chairs the award winning MMA’s Academic Outreach Committee and founded and Co-edits the award winning MMA International Journal of Mobile Marketing.  He is also a member of the DotMobi Mobile Advisory Group Steering Committee.  In addition to his industry and volunteer roles, He is a contributing author to Mobile Internet for Dummies and Web Marketing All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, has authored over 40 other articles on mobile marketing, and is pursing his doctorate on the topic of mobile enhanced customer managed interactions.    Mr. Becker was award the MMA Individual Achievement Award, November 2007.