Archive for May, 2016


No Blocking of Ads at the Network level, Microsoft kills off Nokia

Interestingly, regular readers of this blog will note that a few days after I wrote about the supposed, much-hyped threat of ad-blockers, South African mobile networks came out and confirmed that there are no plans whatsoever to block ads at the network level. That’s good news indeed, and confirmation that mobile marketers need to keep their heads down, stop worrying about bigger picture issues out of their control, and focus on creating effective mobile campaigns that will move client products and services. It seems the end of an era is taking place in Finland as Nokia owner Microsoft cans 1 850 jobs across its feature phone business. For many of us, our first taste of mobile marketing took place on a Nokia feature phone and much mobile marketing across Africa, in particular, continues to be designed for feature phones. So while the news is pretty sad, it certainly doesn’t spell the imminent demise of feature phone marketing. Marketers should still design mobile campaigns that are optimised for feature phone handsets. Finally, it’s nice when authoritative sources confirm what we already know. At least we can all rest assured we’re on the right track. In this regard, business bible Forbes magazine says that there is ‘no question’ that marketing to mobile users is ‘now a necessary part of doing business’. It also states that mobile marketing goes beyond merely having a mobile-optimised website. Great. And you read it here first.

Mobile Marketing Not Just for Commercial Entities

Marketing is – now more than ever – not just for commercial firms. Increasingly, restrictions on advertising are being loosened when it comes to professionals like lawyers and even certain categories of medical professionals. The days of non-profit organisations (NPOs) and registered charities restricting the promotion of themselves to the sides of their collection tins are long gone. Society today accepts that every organisation, public or private, for-profit or non-profit, needs to remain a going concern by making itself known. With South Africa’s 2016 municipal elections soon upon us, many of us have been the targets of mobile marketing campaigns by the country’s political parties. It’s a shame that these campaigns have largely been limited to the occasional text message or cellphone call as billboards and street pole posters remain firm marketing favourites with politicians. Unstructured Supplementary Data Service (USSD), as a menu-driven mobile technology that enables real-time end user interaction with pre-set questions, would be just perfect as a political party survey tool. And yet, SMS, phone calls, billboards street pole posters remain amongst the top four political party campaign tools. Anyone who has ever sent or received a Please Call Me message knows how simply USSD is to use. Imaginatrix is perfectly-positioned to devise an effective USSD-led mobile marketing campaign for any political party, NGO or registered charity than needs advice in this regard. Another plus for USSD is that a payment facility can be built into the menu. This makes donating to your favourite cause especially easy!

Ad Blockers a Threat – But Only for Lazy Marketers

Ad blockers are in the news again. Well, let’s clarify that – the newsy element is the supposed threat of this ad filtering technology that removes advertising from browsers. It is this which is allegedly striking fear into the hearts of mobile marketers everywhere. A cursory Google search reveals a plethora of ad blocking applications designed for every device browser one can think of: Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer, amongst others. Wikipedia says the use of mobile and desktop ad blocking software designed to remove advertising grew by 41% worldwide and by 48% in the U.S. between Q2 2014 and Q2 2015. Something like 40 million Americans already use ad blocking technology. Should we, as mobile marketers and our clients, be worried? While there should be some degree of concern, the risk to properly-designed mobile marketing campaigns is wildly-overstated. The emphasis is on campaigns ‘properly-designed’ by mobile marketing specialists. Bad news to the spray and pray crowd is that ad blockers will certainly prevent Joe Public from seeing ad content that has nothing to do with his unique brand wants and needs. However, for mobile marketers that continue to appreciate the importance of highly-personalised mobile campaigns that speak to individual mobile users – not vague segments – ad blockers will be nothing but a minor irritation to be managed, and easily outfoxed!

USSD is Simple, Yet Empowering Technology

“USS-what?” That’s usually one of the first reactions when clients are first introduced to Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, or USSD. It’s amazing what an extra letter can do – perhaps if SMS was SMMS it might be equally confusing! When one explains that the ever-popular ‘Please Call Me’ service is an example of a USSD service, as is Vodacom’s easy to use *111# customer care menu, then the confusion around USSD clears up quite quickly. And that’s not surprising because USSD really is one of easiest and most consumer-friendly of all mobile value-added services at the marketer’s disposal today. Just to confirm, USSD is a menu-drive technology that is accessible to all cellphone users, no matter if they are using the latest iPhone or the oldest Nokia. The beauty of USSD is that it works on any mobile handset, no matter the year and no matter the manufacturer. The mobile marketer will be interested to know that it also comes in three varieties: standard, premium and reverse-billed USSD. This just means that when the mobile user is interacting with a USSD menu, they are either being billed a standard charge, a somewhat more expensive charge, or finally, someone else is paying. Imaginatrix can assist clients with provisioning any of these three different USSD cost models. That’s easy enough. What’s a little more tricky for clients is to decide what content or services are going to populate their USSD service. This is because the sky is the limit with USSD. It is currently being used for mobile banking, customer care, voting applications, the delivery of specialised content, plus, plus, plus. Whatever you decide to offer via USSD, always keep the technology’s key benefits top of mind: it’s automated meaning you can cut costs to the bone, its real time which increases customer satisfaction, it’s intuitive and simple to use which means fewer customer queries and it’s consumer-driven which means the customer feels empowered.