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Strategic Mobile Design: Modes of Communication

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Communicating with an audience via a mobile device requires a lot of thought, and choosing the right approach to your promotion project will give you the greatest chance for success.
This chapter is from the book

The success of a mobile campaign not only relies on the target audiences' mobile behaviors and usage trends, but also on the promotional visibility of the campaign and the audiences' exposure to the promotions. As with traditional media projects, mobile promotions need to be strategic in their delivery and incorporate their audiences' choice of environments.

Analyzing users' interactions within these additional spaces helps define the best mode of communication, or if the project needs to make use of all modes as part of a multichannel campaign. Examples of these modes of communication are:

  1. Mobile to mobile
  2. Web to mobile
  3. OOH (Out of Home) or print to mobile
  4. Broadcast to mobile
  5. Radio to mobile

A true multichannel project considers and executes on all of these modes of communication. The project's message is then well represented in each channel; each channel supports the others with a unique experience and a cohesive theme exclusive to that channel.

With this model, the most important factor is that the content and approach in each channel must complement, not replicate, each other. Each channel's delivery has its own unique benefits that only that channel can provide. In addition, each channel must not be used just for the sake of using it—be smart in the strategy.

Integrating mobile into any traditional media campaign is extremely valuable, since users carry their mobile devices at nearly all times. Content placed in the mobile space can support traditional media content and create an extensive experience for the project, product, or brand. It can be used to answer any immediate questions that users have regarding content in the other channels, thus providing immediate gratification with the project.

Mobile to Mobile

Cross-promotion within the mobile space itself is a method that can help boost a project's presence for users already exploring the mobile space. The benefit of this approach is that it does not first have to draw users into the mobile space, in order to prompt them to experience the project. The task is just getting them to the content. These users understand mobile behavior and know how to navigate their way around.

Mobile Advertising Units

One method of promoting a project within the mobile space is through mobile banner units. Similar to regular online banners, mobile banners are placed on mobile sites or portals that serve related or corresponding content. Mobile banners are typically served as static images, since animations are not supported on most handsets. Since the images are static, these banners need to clearly illustrate what the project is in a very small dimension and also in a static state. The messaging within the banner itself needs to be written in a direct fashion, so that it clearly communicates where users will click-through to.

When the Internet first started attracting a global audience, users clicked on advertising units for the sake of seeing what else was out there. The mobile Internet is very similar: Users curious about mobile now click on mobile advertising units for the sake of exploration. These users may also not know how to search for specific content otherwise, so the banners actually help them. Companies can set up mobile advertising banners by purchasing a media buy, similar to how it works for online media. Mobile banner units help promote brands, organizations, and projects.

Resources and Specifications for Mobile Advertising

Here are some helpful resources and specifications for mobile advertising:

Mobile Applications

An educational white paper on the opportunities for mobile applications in mobile advertising.

Mobile Advertising Guidelines

Global mobile advertising formats and best practices for display and messaging.

Mobile Advertising Overview

An educational white paper on the opportunities for mobile advertising.


Crosslinking content within the mobile space helps promote relevant content through preexisting mobile Internet sites. The more mobile Internet sites implement this strategy, the faster and bigger the mobile Internet space becomes. For example, if a site with sports content lives in the mobile space, it makes sense to provide additional links to mobile Internet content pertaining to relevant athletes, training, sport scores, products, tickets, or anything else pertaining to the sport. Since mobile Internet sites are typically small in size, this creates a much bigger experience for users to explore.


SMS is another way to promote mobile projects or content from within the mobile space. Forward-to-a-friend functionality empowers a user to input a friend's phone number into a mobile form field and SMS the mobile site's link to them. SMS/MMS functionality can also include links to additional exclusive content, applications, ringtones, and wallpaper. In addition, SMS opt-in functionality can be built into mobile sites, where users can opt-in for future SMS communication with the project, such as weather reports, news reports, sports scores, and so on. This constant communication must only be done if users have opted-in for the service. Spam must never be used as a means to promote anything, especially in the mobile space.

Live Feeds

Integrating some variant of a live feed (see FIGURE 4.1) or an update component into a downloadable mobile application is a great way for users to stay included on all news-or update-related items. This is an efficient way to serve users content without asking them to engage in any additional steps on a daily basis. Once users have the application installed on their handsets, all content is sent to them. This technique can be applied to various applications and genres, such as world-news-related items, weather reports, and entertainment.

Figure 4.1

Figure 4.1 A live news feed.

Network carriers and handset developers have teamed up to develop preinstalled system software for select devices. This software serves much like the live news feeds, but instead of streaming in text- or image-based data, users can also access streaming multimedia components. Since the software is preinstalled in the handset prior to purchase, the step of users downloading and installing applications is eliminated. This safely provides the general audience with access to rich content, thus increasing their knowledge of both the content and the mobile space. This approach also eliminates the need for users to take additional steps of locating content—it is served to them.

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