The statistics1 are overwhelming. This year:
• There are 1.2 billion mobile Web users worldwide
• All mobile phone users will reach 242.6 million
• 94% of smartphones users will be mobile internet users
• Mobile internet users will reach 113.9 million
• Mobile shoppers will reach 72.8 million
• Tablet users will reach 54.8 million
• iPad users will reach 41.9 million
• In the U.S., 25% of mobile Web users are mobile-only
We all know mobile is big and we all know it has enormous marketing potential. What many advertisers don’t yet know (and what’s probably more overwhelming than these statistics) is the most effective way to harness its power.
It’s understandable given challenges such as complications with the myriad of handsets and technologies available, privacy and spam concerns, tiny supplies of valuable ad inventory and obstacles to streamlined mobile commerce.
It’s also understandable why this year, mobile ad spend continues to represent a mere 1 percent of total worldwide ad spend. And why last year, more than half of companies surveyed (58 percent) said they don’t even have a mobile strategy primarily because they’re not sure how to get started2.
What we all seem to clearly understand, however, is that the more consumers buy and use smartphones and tablets, our ability as marketers to leverage this action-oriented medium is critical to our success.
The Evolution of Mobile
Even though it seems advertisers don’t have the best handle on mobile marketing (yet), the industry certainly has come a long way. Early innovators laid the groundwork for some of today’s most successful campaigns and today’s innovators are laying the groundwork for future success.
In its simplest form, mobile marketing started with rudimentarily optimized mobile websites and text message marketing, followed by targeted banner ads, followed by search giants Google and Yahoo in the mix, combining results with local mapping and click-to-call features.
In its present form, there are apps and ads in video and multimedia, in search and social, and in technologies such as QR codes, Augmented Reality (AR) and Near Field Communication (NFC). Marketers push the creativity envelope using device technologies too, such as accelerometer, gyroscope and touch interface to name a few.
Post-2012 promises to bring greater interactivity and creativity, enhanced ad value, improved targeting, advanced search and fully optimized content.
In our industry, the evolution of mobile marketing has followed a similar trajectory. In particular, there are several noteworthy auto”mobile” strategies demonstrating how marketers are closing the gap between auto brands and the billions of always-on consumers who never leave home without their mobile devices. Following are highlights.
Car and Driver, Toyota Get “App-Happy”
In recent years, Jumpstart has worked closely with its publisher partners to develop leading-edge mobile applications designed to effectively and conveniently reach in-market car shoppers.
These efforts include our work with Car and Driver to develop an iPad app combining the magazine’s in-depth car reviews, car comparisons and award-winning automotive editorial with fully interactive, high-resolution car videos, photo galleries, graphs and charts, and up-to-the-minute news feeds.
And to combat the dangers of texting while driving, Car and Driver launched the Txt U L8r app sponsored by Chrysler, to automatically reply to – and read aloud received text messages – to prevent drivers from taking their eyes off the road and their hands off the wheel.
Automakers are relying more heavily on apps to market their vehicles, including two newly-launched this year by Toyota for its Prius C. One featured in Words with Friends and the other in Urbanspoon enables users to play spin-the-wheel and spelling games focused on the new hybrid.
The apps are an extension of mobile ads featured at sites like Yahoo, YouTube and Amazon (and around digital partnerships with Facebook, Pandora and Hulu to name a few) and are based on the popular board game Life to demonstrate how the Prius C can help owners overcome life’s obstacles.
Road & Track, Cadillac Tap Barcodes
In another Jumpstart partner venture, Road & Track has integrated 2-D barcodes into its print issues, enabling readers of the nation’s longest running automotive magazine to “point and click” on steering wheel-shaped icons to instantly access exciting videos related to content featured there.
Cadillac has also integrated barcodes into its marketing efforts, launching a sophisticated QR code campaign earlier this year for its XTS through inside front cover ads in various print media, including Fortune.
When QR codes are scanned, readers are directed to mobile landing pages to view XTS photos or videos, to find a local dealer based on zip code or device GPS, or to link through to the automaker’s social media sites. Unique codes and dedicated URLs enable Cadillac to track user engagement.
Earlier this year, Kia launched a full scale mobile campaign to promote its 2012 Rio to younger buyers through ads, apps and dedicated mobile microsites.
Through the Flixster iPhone app, users were directed via ads to optimized mobile landing pages (where they could browse photos, learn about features and build their own Rio), and to other Rio multimedia content at YouTube and Facebook.
Kia also launched tablet-centric apps and mobile sites enabling users to build Rios, find local dealers, browse multi-view images, and research the vehicle’s full lineup of features – and Kia’s full lineup of cars too.
And late last year, to reach a younger audience for its newly-launched Range Rover Evoque, Land Rover used fully-interactive touch-and-motion sensor iAds on iPhone and iPad.
The ad units, featured through the iAd Network, allowed users to build their dream Evoque by changing features such as body style or color with the swipe of a finger. Images of their dream car could be captured and saved as a wallpaper or attached to an email to be shared with friends. The ads also enabled panoramic views of the vehicle’s interior when a device was rotated or tilted.
According to the automaker, users engaged with Evoque ads for astoundingly long periods of time – nearly a minute and a half on average – and had purchase intent 2.5 times higher than those responding to an Evoque TV ad.
Ford Dealers Selling Through iPad
Ford has equipped its dealers with Showcase app-enabled iPads to improve customer service and streamline sales. The app is designed to assist dealers in helping customers find the Ford vehicle that’s right for them.
Showcase includes a finger swipe-enabled photo gallery of Ford cars and trucks so employees can highlight a vehicle’s features digitally and in real-time, while providing information about the models that are in-stock and available at dealer lots – complete with trim-level info and pricing.
It also highlights videos of Ford vehicle technologies in action, including its popular Sync system.
Essentially, the automaker’s app for iPad is a lightweight, virtual product brochure dealers can carry with them in the showroom to assist with servicing their customers and ultimately, selling cars.
2013 AutoMobile Marketing Trends
Video among mobile users continues to catapult the industry forward as carriers evolve to successfully meet bandwidth and speed demands. This coming year, look for video to play a much larger and more sophisticated role in automaker and dealer mobile marketing initiatives in search and display, and in local mapping.
Look for more advanced tracking capabilities to emerge next year as well, as marketers better understand how, when and where people use their mobile devices to research and shop for cars (down to the days of the week, the times of the day, and what sites they visit in the process). As marketers’ abilities to track and define user engagement improves in the mobile space, so too will our ability to find and target automotive shoppers.
Lastly, expect improvements in the optimization of mobile websites and an upsurge in mobile ad inventory in 2013 as marketers glean a better understanding of how people consume and engage with content through more sophisticated tracking.
Increased scale will make mobile targeting more efficient and valuable to both publishers and advertisers while becoming more contextual and relevant to users – ultimately boosting audience engagement in the process.
Nick Matarazzo is CEO of Jumpstart Automotive Group
1 AMA 2012: The Year of the Mobile Roadmap http://www.marketingpower.com/ResourceLibrary/Documents/ebooks/mobil-%20roadmap-2012.pdf
2The Association of Strategic Marketing 2011: http://www.associationofmarketing.org/