“Mobile marketing is no longer considered as the future of marketing. In a matter of fact, it is the present. If publishers and brands haven’t yet taken content to mobile, they are making a mistake.” Says Ali Al-Saqqa, Director Middle East, Mobile Advertising at Boost Communications.
In an interview with MediavataarME.com, Ali divulges the significance of the ever evolving mobile medium and how marketers could leverage this dynamic medium while understanding their target consumers and their orientation well. Here are the excerpts.....
1. Digital Medium is one destination where all the marketers are heading today; do you think Mobile Marketing is getting its due?
People are shifting swiftly from traditional to digital media. Consumption of content from laptops, desktops, tablets and mobile devices have increased radically on daily basis, for a few years now. The upside of such a development in media consumption is that the digital platforms offers even better potential to marketers than it does to end users. Communication methods on digital channels are faster, more flexible, concrete and efficient. Mobile marketing plays an essential role in the whole digital marketing mix. We see that the bigger brands with bigger budgets have been early adopters, and have embraced mobile profoundly. Now, small and medium enterprises have started to recognizing mobile as an important channel in order to communicate efficiently with their costumers, and are dedicating more of their budgets towards mobile marketing.
2. How are the marketers in the Middle East looking at mobile advertising?
Generally speaking, the Middle East region is still lacking behind the western world when it comes to spend on mobile. Most marketers are still not fully aware of how to best integrate mobile in their marketing mix. We are, unfortunately, still at the stage where marketers are testing the medium by dedicating minimum budgets towards mobile. On the other hand, there are market leaders who have been very active on mobile, and their case studies are considered to be benchmarks for others to follow.
3. How badly brands need mobile solutions experts today and the companies to offer them best results and guide them through this process?
Mobile marketing is no longer considered as the future of marketing. In a matter of fact, it is the present. If publishers and brands haven’t yet taken content to mobile, they are making a mistake; first of all by not analyzing which mediums their target market is spending most time on. Mobile is up close and personal, so it is necessary to embrace and include mobile in marketing strategies. To have experts within mobile marketing in the organizations or within the vendors’ companies, is crucial for educational and guidance purposes. Every brand will eventually need to be present on mobile, or need to execute campaigns through mobile in a one way or another. The presence of experts will help facilitate the process by advising on the best possible strategy on mobile that aligns with the company’s strategic goals and objectives.
4. Can mobile be the protagonist in a Marketing Campaign? If not then do you see a possibility in Future?
For campaigns with specific success benchmarks, mobile can and should play a leading role in the marketing mix. Certain functionalities that are exclusively available on mobile, contributes to achieving inferior results better than any other digital medium. Therefore, it’s only logical for the mobile to be protagonist in a marketing campaign. We have executed numerous campaigns where mobile has been the protagonist. Offline, online and social media have only had a support function in such cases.
5. How beneficial is mobile medium for smaller brands that cannot afford the big budgets of traditional media campaigns?
Mobile can most certainty be the way forward for brands with lower budgets. Through mobile, marketers have the possibility to execute efficient, interactive and quantifiable campaigns that at the same time will provide better ROI than a traditional media campaign. At the same time, it is more budget friendly to use mobile instead of investing in newspaper, radio, magazine and TV spots and ads. There are tools available on the market already, such as Madmaker™ (www.madmaker.com). The tool simplifies the execution of mobile campaigns, and either design or technical skills is required. After development, distribution channels available to the marketers are numerous.
6. The threat of becoming highly intrusive is always there. Do you see people actually opting in for a mobile campaign that too in good volumes?
The opportunities that exist within mobile marketing are beyond the traditional push mediums, such as SMS and MMS campaigns. Unlike push marketing, pull marketing is a more efficient way of presenting the brand. Banner placements, QR code campaigns, and search marketing are just a few examples of pull marketing opportunities available using mobile. Leads coming from such channels are also more valuable because the receiver indicated interest in the first place.
7. The unconventional media is one space that is constantly changing and evolving. Do you think what brands know today becomes obsolete tomorrow?
Definitely! A few years’ back mobile marketing and social media was not playing an important role in marketers’ strategies. However, our target market constantly follows new technologies. Once new mediums start having huge volumes, it becomes essential for brands to follow their target market wherever they are. We are experiencing a very dynamic media environment that keeps evolving.
8. Tell us about the mobile advertising campaign you did for Al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera TV has been one of the most active publishers with regards to mobile. They recognized the importance of mobile at early stage and acted as a leader by taking the right steps considering their mobile presence. This includes their mobile optimized website and mobile applications across all platforms. Boost Communications worked closely with Al Jazeera TV’s team in mobilizing their content. Recently, we executed a global mobile marketing campaign for them in USA, Europe and the Middle East to drive and burst their Blackberry and Android application downloads. The campaign results demonstrated some interesting conversion rates in most of the countries, as well as a huge leap in their app ranking in Google Play and Blackberry World. Besides Al Jazeera, we have been executing plenty of successful mobile advertising campaigns for companies who I consider to be market leaders in this domain, Saudi Telecommunications Company being one of them. STC are big believers in mobile and their activity on mobile is an excellent example for all other brands that are not yet sure about what can be done in this powerful space.
9. You have recently raised a funding of EUR 3.3 million, how do you plan to utilize the same?
The funding that Boost Communications received is a result of remarkable efforts from the whole team over the past few years. We grasp this investment as a strong belief in the mobile medium in general, and our services and work in specific. Boost Communications is based in Norway, with global offices in South Africa, Jordan and UAE. Our main focus for the next quarter is to establish a new presence in Europe, specifically in London, in addition to strengthening our global offices. Our vision is to have a strong and visible presence in order to better serve both our existing and potential clients.
10. Do you expect the smartphone’s penetration to further advance in the Middle East?
Smart phones penetration has exceeded 40% in some gulf countries. This figure is increasing vividly every year. Data packages and special promotions from operators are helping the advancement of smartphone penetration in this region. While mobile companies are still releasing low end and functional devices, I believe that they won’t exist anymore in the next few years.