This has been the year for the evolution of the mobile phone. In June, the proof-of-concept virus, Cabir, launched, proving mobile phones have operating systems sophisticated and vulnerable enough for attack. The variety of affordable PIM and e-mail service providers springing up this year demonstrates the demand for mobile phones to act as information managers and e-mail clients. And the mobile phone marketing campaigns run by Boomerang Mobile Media show that mobile phones have finally become an important mass communication medium.
But before you start envisioning commercials flickering on your screen, and radio jingles echoing every time you go to make a call, Boomerang focuses on a far less intrusive form of marketing. The company provides a phone number for users to call if they are interested in a product. Whether it’s visitors scanning cars at an auto show, or attendees at a concert for recording artist Ghostface, the user must first do the dialing and then a customized user experience begins.
The dialer will be greeted by a message, usually from a celebrity spokesperson for the product or the company’s founder, not the monotone androgynous voice typical to most call centers. At the same time, a text message is sent to the user optimized for the particular phone and service. “The text message is there, inviting you to the Web experience. Messages are either WAP or SMS, and inside is an embedded link,” says Glenn Field, CEO and founder of Boomerang Mobile Media. “As soon as you connect with us, we know exactly what device you have. We are cross-carrier and cross device.”
The user has the choice to follow that link and find out more about the product of interest. Video animations, and mobile phone-optimized Web pages are possible features on the micro-communication site that users are able to opt-in to, but Field makes the point that it is not intended for SPAM purposes. “We opt-in for a very specific event. Quite frankly, you don’t want generic opt-ins because you haven’t qualified the people.”
Currently Field estimates they are able to handle about 700,000 simultaneous phone calls, and their technology is infinitely scalable. He expects mobile phones to provide video at 30 frames per second over the next twelve months as bandwidth increases. A recent campaign by the Fox show, “24” showed a series of one minute dramas over mobile phones—an example of an innovative mobile phone campaign that will only get better as bandwidth increases.
Other campaigns boomerang has been a part of, include a Def Jam tour with 14 bands, and the results were excellent. The campaign averaged 38 to 55 percent penetration for the entire duration, proving that consumers are more than willing to call a number to find out more information. So next time you’re at a concert and everyone is busy dialing their phones, you won’t have to wonder why.