Mobile Marketing Goes To The Dogs


 This seems to be the week to share thoughts of some of my smart friends with you. Perhaps we should begin a new series on Diva Marketing .. Sharing The Thoughts of Smart Friends.

My pal Jon Lee Andersen is an attorney in Atlanta. But Jon is no boring lawyer .. he is one cool divo whose practice focuses on the marketing and advertising industries. In fact Jon has bragging rights as the only lawyer who has held the office of president of the AMA/Atlanta Chapter.

Quarterly Jon writes a newsletter on marketing topics incorporating the point of view of the law. He kindly agreed to share his latest article about mobile marketing with Diva Marketing's community. His writing is smart and funny. In this issue Jon's dog analogy so reminded me of Twitter!

Benny _12_2  New Dogs in Advertising - By Jon Lee Andersen

The Faithful Companion

I once owned a Golden Retriever who followed me everywhere. If I went from one room in the house to another, within minutes he was in there with me. I think he was slightly irritated on some occasions with this movement, especially when he was perfectly comfortable where he was at the moment and could see no good reason to move. As he got older he did stop following me upstairs, but he always waited at the bottom step for me to come back down. When I was at home, he was always at my side.

Now my dog sent me messages regularly, but they were only about himself. Today however, there is another “faithful companion” in our lives and it has the potential to deliver messages to me where ever I may roam: my cell phone. Like my dog it follows me from room to room, and even better - it goes out the door, down the street, to the grocery store, to school, the pizza parlor and the ball game.

Advertisers are taking serious note, since technology now enables them to text me messages about their products and services. I have read that as many as 60 million consumers were exposed to mobile advertising in a recent month and that analysts think the mobile market could be as big as $3 billion in billings within the next 4 years. As text messaging gains even more converts, it is likely to grow even faster. As the saying goes, this marketing dog can hunt!

The Hound Dog

Not is the mobile advertising getting bigger, it is getting more sophisticated. Like a good bloodhound, if my phone was equipped with a GPS system (alas, it is not) advertisers could find me almost anywhere. This would enable them to target me with advertising designed for my specific location, say a coupon good for French fries if I happen to be near a fast food chain. And if the advertiser knew from some other source, such as a behavioral study of my habits from my online usage, that I really liked fast food, the success rate of the advertising should be very high.

Max and friend asleep  The Watch Dog

So, with this proliferation of text and other mobile advertising, what are the problems and the guidelines for doing it correctly? As with the online advertising, the biggest problem is spam, the unwanted ads, junk and schemes being sent. While it is annoying in my computer’s email inbox, at least it is free.

For cell phone customers however, it is not only annoying, it can be rather expensive. Most mobile phone service providers charge for incoming text messages. I have read that in 2008, it is estimated that over 1.5 billion spam text messages were received by consumers at a cost exceeding $225 million dollars.

The principal watch dog for abuses in mobile advertising is the Federal Trade Commission, working under the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act. While CAN-SPAM was initially focused on the glut of spam email messages flooding computers, Section 14 of the Act specifically bans companies from sending unsolicited commercial text messages to cellular phones.

The key requirement for mobile text advertising is that the recipient must give the advertiser “opt-in” to send the text message. By opting-in, consumers have affirmatively agreed to receive text messages from an advertiser and have agreed to pay for any resulting charges incurred. An affirmative opt-in is also required to allow an advertiser to utilize location-based information.

Both the Mobile Marketing Association and CTIA Wireless Association have developed Best Practices Guidelines to address mobile advertising. Both state that content providers must obtain approval from subscribers before sending them commercial SMS or MMS messages or other content.

Obtaining consent may be one of the biggest headaches for advertisers, since the rules require that notice about how and what information will be used must be given in proximity to the consent. Therefore, the small screens of mobile phones will pose some technical limitations. But, I’m betting on technology and advertisers!

The text ad was directed to Mark
Whom they knew was out in the park
And being most careful men
They checked his “opt-in”
So the D.C. watchdog wouldn’t bark

© March 2009 Jon Lee Andersen, Andersen Law Firm, All Rights Reserved

Sign up Jon's quarterly newsletters. He's also happy to answers any questions. jlandersen -at - lawyer - dot - com.

Thanks to BL Ochman, PawFun and whatsnextblog,  Benny Bix Ochman Labradoodle's person for the use of his cool photo.


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The article is smart and funny, but the problem sure isn't. Nobody is ever going to make me believe that mobile is a good platform for pushing ads to people.

Posted by: B.L. Ochman on Mar 26, 2009 9:24:15 PM

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