Wednesday, January 26, 2005

fyi Mobile marketing is slowly improving for US marketers


Pointer to article:

Kobielus kommentary:
That may be so on some levels, such as the ability to push bulk messages into people’s hands everywhere. But it’s obviously turning into a huge new spam source. And the evolving dynamics of the cellular market will make it even spammier.

Target marketing will become more and more difficult in the mobile services market as prepaid cellular services predominate (postpaid cellular service plans still outnumber prepaid in the US and a handful of other countries, but prepaid rules the roost everywhere else). The convenience, simplicity, and “contractlessness” of prepaid are just too attractive, considering what a commodity cellular service is becoming. Yes, prepaid airtime is still more expensive in the US than postpaid, but, as this niche heats up, expect the difference to narrow considerably.

But why does prepaid cellular open the barn door to more cellular spam? One of the interesting things about prepaid cellular is that it often conceals the subscriber’s identity from the carrier. Under most prepaid plans, you buy your cellphone from various parties (which may be a carrier’s retail outlet, but more often will be a third-party electronics or big-box retailer) and your prepaid airtime from various sources (for example, CVS/pharmacy sells prepaid airtime cards on most major US carriers and MVNOs: Cingular, T-Mobile, TracFone, Verizon, Virgin). You hand your credit card to the company that sells you the phone and the airtime, and they hand you a toll-free number and PIN to activate your prepaid account. Yes, the retailer may or may not be able to get useful demographic info from you, but the carrier, just being a bulk provider of wireless airtime, probably won’t. So it can’t target you with messages to your cellphone. So the SMS messages you do get will be spam, or only those that you explicitly opt-in to (after a while, those latter messages will blur into spam as well).

Virgin Mobile is doing something interesting. They give you bonus airtime if you refill through their website and use a credit card. Then they give you the option of auto-paying future refills from the same card. Expect to see other cellular carriers follow suit. They must have more user identity info in order to sell more stuff to you over their prepaid services. If they have a big pot of subscriber identity info, they can take the upper hand in their mobile e-commerce/content partnerships.

Whether you need more promotion, marketing, and spam messages pushed to your handset is another issue altogether.

I personally am sick of advertising of any sort being pushed to any of my computers.