We know how you feel, you just got done spending a ton of time, money and effort into figuring out how social media works and how best to incorporate it into your businesses’ marketing and communications efforts and frankly, you’re exhausted.

Let us be the first to congratulate you on a hard fought victory.  But now is not the time to get complacent and rest on our laurels.  Now is the “year of mobile.”  A lot of forward thinking companies, ad agencies and technophiles are already out there using mobile media to attract attention to their companies, grow their customer bases and just plain generate revenue.

Getting Started with Mobile Media

Over the next couple of months, our team will walk you through what you need to know to stay ahead of (okay, maybe just with) the curve on this new technology and how you can use mobile media to your advantage.

You’re most likely very much aware of the fact that the big topic (technology) on the lips of businesspeople, bloggers, baristas and basketball players alike, is mobile media.  Its’ everywhere!  And that’s true because each year, more and more people are carrying mobile phones.

A report from eMarketer, predicts that by the end of 2011, 80% of the U.S. population will own at least one mobile phone. That’s a ton of people who are always connected and can always be reached no matter where they are.  The problem being that since mobile is such a new technology the rules are constantly being written, over written and rewritten on a daily basis.  So where to start?  That’s where we come in.

We are going to start you off today with

  • Some definitions of the basic types of mobile communications
  • Tips on how you can start to familiarize yourself with how mobile works

Types of Mobile Media Communications

The simplest and most basic form of mobile media is the text message, formally known as Short Message Service (SMS).  Because any mobile phone, smartphone or otherwise, can receive and send text messages, this is the most commonly used form of media when it comes to mobile advertising and it currently accounts for the largest potion of mobile ad spending.  It provides the greatest reach to the most users and its simple to create.

Moving down the ladder one rung to the second highest category of mobile ad spending we arrive at Mobile Banner Ads. Although, due to the rising popularity of smartphones and predicted advances in mobile browsers and networks, some marketing professionals think that Mobile Ads will overtake SMS in total ad spend in the next year or two.  Just like online banner ads, mobile display ads are sold on the basis of a cost per click (CPC), cost per acquisition (CPA) or cost per thousand impressions (CPM) and takes a mobile user who clicks on the banner to that advertiser’s mobile website.

Which brings us to our next type of mobile media: Mobile Websites.  Mobile websites differ from their desktop counterparts in that they have been specifically designed for the smaller screens of mobile devices and are more streamlined.  CNN is a good example of a company with a great mobile website that we at the 60 Second Marketer like a lot and visit on a regular basis.  Their mobile site is easy to navigate and it loads very quickly; the two must-haves for a company considering going down the path of developing a mobile website for their business.

Mobile Search is recognized by advertising professionals as one of the most popular mobile internet activities amongst all mobile users.  Searches can be performed on your phone through a number of providers like Google, Yahoo, Bing!  Your mobile phone might even have a search function/program built into its operating system.  Mobile search works in pretty much the same way as desktop Search Engine Marketing (SEM), where advertisers bid for certain keywords in an auction-based marketplace for their search ad to appear in a desired rank order.  This is a very simple type of mobile marketing that, at its most basic, can be set up and launched in a matter of a couple of hours.

Anyone out there that is carrying an iPhone, Blackberry, Android or other type of smartphone should know what a Smartphone Application is at this point.  Mobile apps can provide direct access to information in the form of directions, entertainment via a game (we wished we invented Angry Birds or Farmville) or can be a mobile social media application, like Facebook or Foursquare.  Bank of America’s mobile banking app that allows you to check your account balances and transfer funds as needed is an excellent example of a branded smartphone app that is not only useful but also serves to drive brand awareness with each use.

The last type of mobile media we want to introduce you to today is Mobile Video. According to industry reports, video is currently receiving the lowest percentage of mobile ad spending, but this relatively new mobile advertising medium, like mobile banners, will become more prevalent as mobile devices and networks continue to improve.   Mobile video ads are typically ten seconds long and are automatically played prior to (called, pre-roll) the video you selected to watch on your device.  This works much the same way as the advertising you see on Hulu.com before you view the video selected.  Advertisers like mobile video because, although your device has lots of functionality, you can’t multi-task while watching a video on your iPhone.

5 Tips on How You Can Get Familiar With Mobile

We know you’ve read a lot here today when probably all you really wanted to read were our tips on how you can familiarize yourself with the basic types of mobile media.  So, without further ado, here’s your “homework assignment” for next time.  Feel free to pick three or four from this list, the more the merrier:

  1. Send a text message to Google. How you ask? Send a text as simple as this, “Starbucks. 30326” to the number 466453 (that’s Google spelled out on your keypad).  Wait about 5 seconds and you should receive a text message back from Google with the address for the two or three closest Starbucks locations to the zip code 30326.  The text is billed to your account like a regular text message and doesn’t cost anything extra.  Got unlimited texts? Even better!
  2. If you have a smartphone go to a mobile website that you visit often on your computer. We like the mobile versions of CNN.com and ESPN.com.  Once the page loads fully (and hopefully quickly) scroll around and find a mobile banner ad.  Take a look at who’s ad it is, what it says and what it looks like.  Click it and see what happens.  Again, this doesn’t cost you anything.  Where does the mobile banner take you?  Do this on a couple of different mobile banners you come across and compare user experiences.
  3. Point your mobile browser to a website that you often visit on your home computer. Compare it side by side to the full version of the website on your computer screen.  Notice the content that has been included on, or more importantly excluded from, the mobile version of the site.  Do this with a couple of different types of sites.  Remember, the shorter the load time the better.
  4. Already on Facebook? Only use Google to search online?  Have an account on Padora? Well guess what.  All of these sites have great mobile applications that you can download for free and use on your mobile device.  Again, compare the functionality of these mobile apps against their full sized counterparts on your computer.  The best mobile applications are very simple and have a couple of core functions.  With the Facebook app you can update your status wherever you go and the Pandora app lets you listen to the Bon Jovi station you secretly love but are embarrassed tell your friends you created.
  5. Getting familiar with mobile video may require a bit of patience depending on how fast your device can load and play videos, so consider this homework assignment extra credit. Go back to CNN.com on your mobile and scroll down until you see links for some of their videos.  Find one that interests you and click through on the links to play it.  Take note of the video that should play pre-roll to the video you’ve selected.

That’s all for today.  Class dismissed!  We here at the 60 Second Marketer would like to leave you with a brief parting thought — The quickest way to figure out how to properly utilize mobile media in your company’s communication efforts is to start using it yourself as much as you can.  To borrow a quote from Mark Twain, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Stay tuned here for more information about trends in mobile media, mobile marketing best practices, companies who are using mobile in creative and effective ways and much more.

Posted by Matt Luber, Mobile Media Analyst, the 60 Second Markter, and graduate student at Emory University.