Most articles on mobile marketing miss the point about this medium's true potential. The coverage tends to dwell on the question of whether or not consumers will accept advertising on their phones.
While that's a good question, and one to which the answer should be a resounding "no", it is not the question that reveals mobile's true opportunity. Rather than viewing the "third screen" as yet another advertising delivery device, we should view it as a way to transform off-line media into opt-in, interactive media.
Mobile is ubiquitous. We're tethered to our phones while reading a magazine, walking through the airport, listening to the radio and watching TV. Most of the advertising in these media ends with the obligatory website call to action. There's two problems with this: First, who has their computer open at the bus stop? And, second, who by now does not know how to find a company online?
Instead, imagine inserting a mobile call to action -- a simple invitation to "text 1234 to get a special preview" -- in magazines ads, bus shelter boards and TV commercials. (The team here at Barrie D'Rozario Murphy is putting this idea to work for United Airlines as a way to connect with business travellers at O'Hare, United's main hub.)
This is 100% opt-in. It's an invitation not an intrusion. It transforms analog media into interactive media. But it requires two adjustments. We need to design a mobile element into every campaign and we need to stop viewing mobile as new real estate for banner ads.
This is, admittedly, a short-term solution. (But a beautifully simple one at that.) Longer term, the promise of mobile lies in Quick Response Codes. QR Codes, similar to bar codes, were originally developed to track inventory. Marketers in Japan are using it as a way to create a two-way link between consumers and brands. Using a phone equipped with QR reading software, a consumer snaps a photo of the code on a package or magazine ad to immediately launch a browser to learn more information.
Now, isn't that way cooler than blasting banner ads?