Using consumers' smart mobile devices as marketing channels is an idea that has been vaunted for some time now, but there is still little evidence that it has moved from the conceptual to actual use. Broadcast media, the press and outdoor advertising are still much stronger options when considering a marketing campaign.
Mediacom, like many marketing organisations has only just started investigating the possibilities of using mobile devices to deliver clients' messages, but its pilots have started to move into the real world. One such attempt from the international media and marketing agency Mediacom owned by WPP, is in collaboration with Aurasma, a subsidiary of Autonomy, which uses cues from real-world media to trigger links to digital collateral.
George Dixon, mobile manager at Mediacom admits that it's still early days but that investment in mobile marketing resources is steadily growing. He cites Internet Advertising Bureau figures that put year-on-year UK mobile ad-spend more than doubling in 2010 from around £30m to £83m.
Dixon said: "Mobile fills a gap in the media [we address]. It's perfect for tying an offline marketing programme with online activity. As a company, it's important that we lead that growth."
Mediacom has around 20 people on staff who specialise in mobile marketing, but so far, these people are distributed around the company and there is no dedicated mobile department.
"Initially people struggled to understand [the value of mobile marketing]," he said. But we are finding a lot of clients are coming to us to talk about it now, rather than us having to knock on their door."
The Mediacom trial is in collaboration with Universal Pictures, to market its latest film Bridesmaids. The marketing company is using a mobile app developed by Aurasma which recognises certain images once they are scanned into a smartphone's camera and runs animations on it. Static images on billboards or in magazines come to life, like the pictures on the walls in Harry Potter films.
Mediacom ran adverts in London's Metro newspaper, Closer, More, Grazia and the women's freesheet Style List, as well as some outdoor advertising in the run up to the release of Bridesmaids.
According to Aurasma literature, the application is free to download and alerts the user when they are in the vicinity of a tagged location, so that they can start it up and run the campaign.
Dixon said the Universal campaign runs on iPhone and Android phones.