Mobile marketing strategy in 2008: The race for tiny space

So it’s the end of 2007 and your online business is humming. You’ve honed your Value Proposition to a razor-sharp message. You’re always in the top 10 search results, and your Incentives and Friction control make doing business with you as silky as Yves Delorme sheets.

Then mobile marketing comes along.

With the current mobile seascape roiling with search engine companies, carriers, and content producers all trying to dominate new territory, it’s enough to make even the hardiest CMOs feel like losing their lunch over the side.

Google is (allegedly) working on the mobile phone Operating System (OS) of the future. Once Google gets a phone pre-conditioned for optimal search and ad delivery into the hands of millions of searching, discovering customers, ads could pay enough of the freight to make owning and operating the phone virtually free. The price of cellular services on all networks could drop substantially if that strategy becomes reality, as long as you don’t mind hearing five second pitches before every call or seeing tiny ads in, on, and around your display.

AOL is undergoing its own major transformation, repositioning itself as another device-agnostic portal leading you to services like MapQuest, CityGuide, and Moviefone, search, mail, and IM. They’ll also let you personalize the page and find your friends with GPS widgets. Of course Third Screen Media, AOL’s ad placement firm, will show you ads based on what you’re searching for, where you are going, and what you are doing.

Yahoo’s oneSearch also wants to be your default mobile search engine. Their strategy is to grow their global market as quickly as possible, talking with European and South American mobile behemoth Telefonica about being the primary cellular search engine in 15 countries.

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But if you’re interested in reaching the Asian mobile market, better talk to Google. Though Baidu claims 60% of online search in China, Google crafted its own deal with China Mobile, the biggest cellular network in Asia with 300 million subscribers, back in January.

Meantime the carriers—the network providers—are trying to maintain their lucrative corner on cell phone “decks”—those menus of services pre-set on the phones they sell. Content producers like ESPN, Weather.com and game vendors cut lucrative deals with the carriers to be “on-deck,” and ad buyers cut deals with the content producers. Google’s new phone strategy could make those lists obsolete, replacing them with good ol’ top 10 search results and PPC ads.

According to a report by Colin Gibbs released by RCRWirelessnews.com last week, off-deck content producers have their own problems, citing inadequate billing systems and onerous revenue-share models.

With new developments and challenges in the mobile market coming out every day, will hard-won expertise in landing page optimization and search engine marketing be directly transferrable to your mobile strategy?

Yes and maybe.

Yes, because you must still answer the basic questions: who your customers are, where they came from, what they are looking for, how to get them to convert once they get to you, and how to keep improving your results.

Maybe, because the current lack of real estate (a handful at best) on mobile devices and the state of flux in mobile technology mean optimization, search, and testing techniques and tools will need tweaking, if not a purpose-built redesign. It’s certainly an exciting opportunity to find out what really works when it comes to mobile marketing.

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If you consider yourself an old hand at mobile marketing and you’ve already got some tips and anecdotes, please share. We’d certainly love to hear them.

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2 Comments

  1. meredyth says

    wow! very informative… I need some mobile marketing strategies… and since, I am the first person to comment, well.. consider, pro bono 😀

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