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March 5, 2008
Mobile Ads Offer One-Two Punch: Reach and Influence
Rather than peppering you with a list of the exciting opportunities presented by mobile advertising, thereby giving you the immediate desire to dismiss my comments, let’s simply look at the facts. Limbo recently conducted two mobile advertising reports produced in conjunction with GFK/NOP research that indicate that mobile offers a powerful one-two punch for advertisers with both excellent reach and recall among consumers, and the potential to influence consumer attitudes and behaviors. These results have considerable implications for marketers considering mobile campaigns as well as allocating marketing dollars for 2008 and beyond.

There are currently more than 250 million mobile phone users in the U.S., so the marketing opportunity or reach has officially become viable as more than 90% of the population owns a mobile phone. Beyond their primary use, voice calls, 56% of these mobile users also use SMS, which is 60% higher than the next-ranked service, MMS, and twice as high as mobile Internet reach. This is clearly an important data point when considering a mobile program.

The report also shows significant variation in media reach by demographics:

  • SMS usage skews to the younger media audience with 82% of those under 25 as active users.
  • However, for all ages under 50, more than 50% of users are using SMS. This means text messaging should not be pigeonholed as exclusively a youth medium.
  • African-Americans and Hispanics are generally 50% more likely to be SMS users than Caucasians.
  • And singles are 50% more likely to text than are married people.


So the audience is broad, who’s paying attention? One in three mobile phone users (78 million people) has seen or heard advertising on his or her mobile phone in the last three months. Again, SMS is the dominant media type, as one in six mobile users recalled seeing SMS advertising. The study also presented significant variations in the penetration by user profile:

  • Men are 20% more likely to recall advertising than are women.
  • People under 24 are twice as likely to recall advertising as those over 50.
  • Of the people who recall seeing advertising, one-third recalled (unaided) the brand being promoted. This is higher for women than for men…and for advertising campaigns that use mobile TV or SMS.


What can we say? Compelling data is just that – compelling. But, believe it or not, the plot thickens with the second study.

Just in time for Super Tuesday, Limbo released a second report showing how voters’ attitudes and behaviors are influenced through mobile advertising. In January 2008, Limbo ran SMS advertising campaigns for leading Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The results suggested that SMS advertising provides a powerful tool for candidates to actually change consumer attitudes and voting behavior.

The campaigns uncovered 53% awareness among consumers, which is common for SMS programs, but higher than might be expected from traditional forms of media. However, the overall impact was considerable with 28% altering their voting intentions. The campaigns also functioned to drive greater interaction with the candidate across other paid and non-paid media:

  • 37% paid more attention to news coverage about the candidate
  • 12% became more aware of other marketing for the candidate
  • 7% visited the candidate’s website with a further 24% intending to do so in the future
  • 5% visited the candidate’s mobile Internet site with a further 9% intending to do so in the future


Additionally, 14% said that their perceptions of the candidate was now more positive than before seeing the campaign, with only 4% saying it was now more negative, a net 10% increase in positive perception. Barack Obama saw the biggest uplift, with a net gain of 16%.

The hopeful candidates are expected to spend over $20 million on Super Tuesday alone and over $500 million before the end of the presidential race in 2008. It will be interesting to see how they choose to use the mobile channel, but the research indicates it will yield useful results.

Perhaps you’re thinking, what does it all mean? Simply put…the opportunities for and the power found in mobile advertising create exciting opportunities for brands to reach consumers in ways – and with results – never before possible.

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Rob spends his days ensuring a superlative member experience and acquiring shiny, happy members for Limbo. Before Limbo, Rob was a co-founder of Enpocket, a global mobile marketing firm recently purchased by Nokia, which represented brand name clients such as Fox TV, TBS, Levi's and Reebok. Previously, Rob was European Research Director for Engage in Europe as well as Director of Internet Research at NOP. http://www.limbo.com
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