Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Point of Purchase Going Mobile

I was fascinated by this interview with Scott Monty of Ford that passed through my inbox a couple of weeks ago. It’s worth listening to. About 2 minutes in he talks about the localization issue. Ford is following up their successful Fiesta introduction last year with the formal North American launch. The launch marketing is concentrated in 16 local markets. Ford will have 20 2-person teams handling the local social aspects of the launch. Monty says that Ford wants to “connect to the people that matter” and my guess is that it’s going to be dealer-centered, not Ford headquarters-centered. Really interesting!

Fast forward a couple of weeks to this article in Ad Age. It gives an additional slant on localized marketing:

It's the ad served while you are reading the news in the morning on an e-reader that knows you're at home and three blocks from a Starbucks. It's a loyalty program on your phone that, through a hotel-room sensor, sets the lights and thermostat and turns the TV to CNN when you walk in the door. It's finding a restaurant in a strange city on a Tuesday night, discovering that a store nearby stocks the TV you're looking for, or that a certain grocery on the way home has the cut of meat you need. . . "What used to be called point-of-purchase is now called mobile advertising," said Kip Cassino, VP-research at Borrell Associates. "Mobile can be an extension of a retailer's storefront."

The emphasis here is on mobile. I was reminded of these two articles as I listened to CNBC report on the CITA conference earlier this morning. If you are interested in wireless developments, and all sorts of cute new devices and appls, you can follow their coverage. I was caught by the headline of this particular report, “Charge It On Your Cell Phone.” I should add that mobile payments are not a new concept. I wrote about a concert ticket transaction that was completely mobile c. 2007 in my Internet marketing text. However, the example came from Australia; I couldn’t find an actual example in the U.S!

The section of the report that interested me most was the Visa payWave service. When I looked at that, I found that it was actually a smart card application, not mobile at this point. That’s also not a new concept; I wrote about that in an even earlier text! ExxonMobile SpeedPass still seems to be going strong, although it didn’t morph into a payment system as the initial strategy seemed to anticipate.

So initially, I said, ok nice service, but nothing new. Then I clicked on the “find merchants near you” link and saw how this fitted in. I live in a small market and admittedly the merchants now listed are mostly national or regional chains. What happens when local merchants catch on?

I’ll tell you what happens! Local merchants sign up for the service and voila—they are listed on the local map along with the big guys. More free promotion! Not to mention creating an easy transaction mechanism for their customers!

Further, this is only one step in the direction of mobile-based advertising and transactions. Billing Revolution is one firm that offers transaction processing on mobile phones. It was developed to allow mobile purchases from e-commerce sites. I can’t tell whether you can yet walk into a retail store, one that accepts PayPal apparently, and pay for your purchase with your cell phone. If you can’t do it today, it’s bound to be the next step.

As that is happening, marketing becomes more local with the ability to reach people where they are, whenever they are there. Also the opportunity to annoy them immensely while they are trying to read the morning news on a mobile device!

Haven’t I said this before? Broadcast marketing is dead. No reference implied to particular channels. The reference is to blasting a message out to all within hearing, whether they are the people you want to connect to or not! It calls for smarter, more thoughtful marketing, but the potential returns are great!

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