Does anyone remember back in 2005 and 2006 when mobile marketing was supposed to redefine every aspect of the marketing world? SMS would be delivering all our marketing messages. WAP (mobile-specific pages) would bring interactivity to the wireless phone. We'd be redeeming coupons from in-store banners and swiping our cell phone screens at the cash register. Our phones were supposed to bleep at us when we walked by a store that wanted to hawk us some great sale or new product.
Well, a funny thing happened.
The mobile revolution went ahead and happened, but it apparently didn't pay any attention to all of us marketers predicting its future. Let's look at the revolution as it is playing out now.
SMS did take off. It's used so often now that I wonder how we lived without it. It's become the instant messaging solution for the mobile world, but it's barely budged the needle for marketing messages.
WAP is everywhere, but most people don't seem to care. Dramatically faster networks coupled with increasingly powerful mini-browsers have brought the full Web right onto our little phones. If you haven't tried surfing the Web on an iPhone or an iPod Touch, then you need to rush out and give it a try. WAP didn't change the world; long live the mobile Web browser.
And, while the carriers are trying to figure out how to appropriately make your location data available to marketers, along comes Google. Try downloading the latest Google Maps for your phone. (It works on tons of phones, but best on the iPhone.) Do a map-based search for, say, a sushi restaurant and it'll pop up a list of matching restaurants right near you--all without you even typing in your ZIP code or location. Did I mention Google Maps is free? This is permission-based (implicitly) and non-intrusive, and it completely bypasses the telcos. Who would have predicted that?
So, what has been the biggest impact of the mobile marketing revolution? It's not advertising. It's not even closed-loop, permission marketing. It's branding. Yes, the original stalwart of marketing has taken the early lead on transforming the marketing world onto our phones. Ring tones, wall papers, screen savers, branded games and other applications appear to be dominating the eyeballs and dollars on the mobile marketing front.
This is why I love technology revolutions. They do change everything, but no one (and I mean no one) can ever predict how. I guess that’s why they call them revolutions <grin>. The most exciting news of all is that the mobile revolution is barely underway and, while I have no idea how it will play out, I can absolutely guarantee the most exciting parts are yet to come.