Mobile's Misses in 2010

Asked to play the Bah! Humbug! role in this season of celebration, my job is to identify and try to explain some of the mobile misses in 2010. But before I throw stones, I will say that mobile matured this year. I saw evidence of that often, especially while judging the worldwide Mobile Marketing Association awards. Programs were smarter. Results were better. Mobile subscribers benefitted. We, however, were not without our low moments, which I will break down by category: Lack of consistent mobile integration in marketing campaigns. As I wrote in a Mobile Marketer column, advertisers received failing grades for mobile marketing during the Super Bowl telecast. There simply was not much mobile marketing despite the massive Super Bowl audience primed to participate with mobile devices no further than four feet from them for the better part of four hours. My biggest disappointment was with fast feeder Denny’s, which gave away Grand Slam breakfasts without employing mobile to create a loyalty club. My advice then? Why not have viewers text in for the offer, then create a mobile club where customers can opt in for future trackable offers and product information? Contrast this with another fast feeder, Arby’s, which has built a large database – actually 172 local ones – by offering free products in exchange for consumers texting in and subsequently joining the loyalty club. Another Super Bowl fumble came from domain registrar, which easily could have directed viewers to a mobile Web site or even an iPhone application to watch the series of “too hot for TV” shorts. You do not think those would have been shared at water coolers for weeks to come? Ill-conceived products or products that failed because of weak marketing plans. Do we start with Microsoft’s Kin or with Google’s Nexus One? Designed to be your social networking companion, the Kin lasted less than three months before the next of kin were notified. Kin phones did not provide access to the Windows Phone Marketplace application storefront, preventing customization. Also, the marketing did not adequately explain the features and benefits. The Nexus One had other issues, the largest being an ill-conceived sales strategy that made the phones only available online. What is wrong with that? Try selling a new product and operating system without giving consumers a chance to give it a test drive at retail. Better yet, do not try. Another product that did not make it to the holiday season is Flo TV, which failed to gain enough subscribers despite a hefty TV spend on Super Bowl Sunday and beyond. Why? Consumers have many video options via mobile and are not ready in big numbers to pay for television broadcasts. Increased messaging fees from carriers. T-Mobile’s pricing structure increased the charge for standard-rate messages – both mobile-originated and mobile-terminated – sent over its network by $0.0025 per message. By doing so, T-Mobile upped the cost for brands to run campaigns, hardly a wise move in these early days of mobile spending. The carrier also gave brands a reason to exclude T-Mobile from contests and other programs. This is problematic because the carrier does not want to be in a position to have its customers excluded. One of the big questions entering 2011 is whether other carriers will follow T-Mobile’s lead. The introduction of tiered data plans. How about we rally around children’s rhyme “Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezie” to stop the insanity of metered data plans? In 2010 Verizon and AT&T moved to tiered data pricing. Has anyone stopped to think that text messaging became a mass activity – 72 percent of all U.S. subscribers – and super easy, if not easy peasy, when unlimited plans were introduced and suitably priced? Now we are going to ask mobile subscribers to count “MBs” and “GBs.” Yeah, yeah, you can go to a Web site or send a text and get an update, but who has the time or interest to do that? Will we make mistakes in 2011? We are doomed if we do not. Innovation is not without risk – and some failure. (Originally posted for Mobile Marketer -