My favorite mobile ad campaign remains Germany’s BMW snow tire one during the winter of 2008. On the first snowy day, BMW simply sent a personalized MMS to the customers who had bought one of their cars that past summer. Each customer would see a picture of the exact model —including color— of the car they had purchased along with the set of snow tires recommended for that specific model and the associated price. This $60K ad campaign totaled $45M of revenue. Unbeatable!
What made this campaign so good? It was relevant: timely—appearing on the day they suddenly should be thinking about snow tires; specific—helping consumers decide which, among zillions of tires, they needed; helpful—thereby saving the customer tons of time; and included an easy call to action—customers were able to just call or buy online.
This was possible because BMW had good data on its customers. All the technology in the world can’t make up for a company’s poor data hygiene and governance. Because good customer data is key for effective marketing, companies must pay particular attention to their data, and be willing to allocate the necessary resources on it. Marketing teams are best served with data lovers in their teams and a very close partnership with their IT and data teams.
Why the best mobile ad campaigns start with technology, not creative
By Mahi de Silva
Last month at international ad festival Cannes Lions, one of the most closely watched areas was the mobile category, where this year there were over 1,000 entries. As the judges noted, winning ad campaigns combined creativity, idea, execution, and relevance in a way that could only be achieved through the mobile platform. The emphasis was on portability, connectivity and pervasiveness – in other words, campaigns that were mobile at their very core.
Why is this important? Because for the first time, a coveted win at this exclusive festival was less about the creative – the emotional effect of the “art” on the consumer – and more about the technology. A win in the mobile category meant the agency had to ditch the idea of creative concept first and start thinking platform first. In a way, it’s the last shovelful of dirt being thrown onto the grave of the Mad Men era.
Cannes is by no means a measure of which campaigns are the most effective. Unlike many digital awards, there is little to no emphasis on metrics or results. But most of the winning mobile campaigns were highly effective. Why? Because they integrated mobile technology into the user experience.
What is mobile technology?
Mobile technology is enabled through device-specific hardware like GPS, the accelerometer, the gyroscope, camera, microphone, and the natural gesture-based navigation. But it’s also the software: calendar, maps, photo filters, QR readers, web access, weather, e-commerce, and social media sharing. And let’s not forget the antiquated click-to-call or phone call feature.
We just named about a dozen unique, interactive elements that have never before been available to marketers in one package. Print, television, desktop, even out-of-home digital display and POS advertising pale in comparison to what mobile offers. It is by far the most exciting and most powerful medium for anyone looking to capture the attention of a consumer audience.
The trick, however, is finding the right combination of technology for each campaign, and then coming up with the artful and engaging creative to match.
The creative challenge
When thinking platform-first instead of concept-first, creative teams have to be able to imagine the utility of the campaign to the user, not the impression. They have to put function before form, which can be a challenge to the average agency creative.
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