Seize The Mobile Opportunity

Although teenagers do read the occasional newspaper and still watch a lot of TV, mobile use among teens, especially texting, is so pervasive it has crossed from "measurable" to "habitual" behavior. For marketers, reaching teens has always been hard, and with their mobile obsession, no company can be completely confident of reaching teens unless it seizes the mobile opportunity.

Teens are three times more receptive to mobile advertising, according to 2008 Nielsen research. But just reaching their mobile isn't enough. For example, Twitter, which many users access via mobile, doesn't reach teens because it's a public vehicle that doesn't meet their needs. Social media does not yet provide the targeting capability or the user tolerance needed to generate the ROI necessary to test and then execute a campaign effectively. Try to market your brand on a social media website and you risk looking like you're wearing a sandwich board at the high school dance. Besides, teens are migrating from the desktop to their mobile devices for everything from web access to text messaging.

It's no secret that texting is the dominant activity. Experian finds that older teens (18-20) use text and e-mail equally. Here at ChaCha, we've been in on these millions of conversations that are happening between teens and young adults. Working on a baseline index of 100, teens use the Internet at a time-spent index of 82. Time spent using their mobile device for phone calls indexes at 67. Text usage goes off the charts at 338. But the key is not so much the data as it is in what marketers can do with them. Teens are willing to interact in many levels with their mobile phones.

Given the right opportunity to interact, teens have no problem communicating. I know because they've ask me 150 million questions in 18 months. The right kind of mobile marketing is the best way to reach teens and young adults. Contextual advertising is here and now for the teen demographic, and it is available through mobile devices. Marketers can attach their brands to mobile interactions that directly tie messaging to product.

Here is how it works: A user -- we call them ChaChees -- asks a question as if they were texting or calling a smart friend. The question routes to one of our 55,000 guides who work from their homes and are on call to answer any question at any time. After the question is researched, the answer is sent back with a targeted message. We have found that 83% of the entire teen population texts, which is up 13% in the past year. Other demographic groups text a lot, but no other demographic group is on track to grow its mobile usage by double digits.

Marketers that simply push SMS messages or WAP ads are missing out on the key resonance points with teens and mobile. In fact kids want to know more than most marketers think. Yes, sex, kissing, and relationships are very important. But the biggest category is humor. They also want the cheat codes and hints for their favorite video games and news on what is coming out next. They want recommendations. They want to know what they should wear today, what they should do next, and what to have for dinner. They have an insatiable appetite for the weird and the gross, the funny and the bizarre.

The result is a comprehensive view into the psyche of a teen. They know they can say anything they want and get an honest answer. As a result, they will be honest about what they want, and marketers get a sense of how to direct some services towards them and direct the right kind of advertisements to them.

Now for a marketer question: How do you act on this? Attaching your brand to the answers to their questions will result in higher intent to purchase products, higher engagement rates among this key audience, and simply a relevant presence on mobile devices with the customer segment that uses them most. As a marketer you have a lot of questions about teens; they have a lot of questions about your products as well as the rest of the world. They need help sorting them out, and mobile devices are fast becoming their oracle.

Tags: mobile, teens
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1 comment about "Seize The Mobile Opportunity ".
  1. Susan Marshall from ExactTarget , November 20, 2009 at 11:19 a.m.

    Most teens these days have unlimited text plans and have no problem texting all day, every day. When an advertiser embeds a compelling or relevant message in a free, opt-in service like ChaCha, the engagement rates are very high.