It’s hard to believe that the first mobile phone call was made over 24 years ago. Ernie Wise, using the Vodafone network, made that call, with a phone that weighed nearly 5kg. Luckily the phones got lighter, and affordable enough for over 85% of UK households and 95% of businesses to use them. For a weight comparison: today’s iPhone weighs a measly 135 grams.
Advertising didn’t take long to exploit the improvements in mobile technology, with many companies experimenting with text message (SMS) promotions. The highly targeted and personalised marketing that mobile phones allow has always created flurries of excitement within organisations that have messages to spread.
The launch of ITV’s Pop Idol in 2001 showed businesses how to use mass text voting to their advantage and draw in viewers by both voting and ‘win ticket’ competitions. Big Brother and Strictly Come Dancing are further examples of mobile marketing to wider target audiences.
Mobile is a sizeable marketing channel, with over 3 billion users. But with the web and its 2 billion users not far behind, mobile marketing is in a competitive race with the internet.
Unexplored potential?

When you think of mobile marketing, you probably think about standard text messages – no more than 160 characters. Text messages have been a popular advertising medium with debt companies, mobile phone networks and TV productions, who can easily drop messages into the hands of the right audience.
Although picture messaging has moved on from the early days, when it took hours (sometimes more than 24) to download a message, it’s still failed to find a place in the hearts of marketing men and women.
Consumers now demand media-rich applications on their phones, and the ability to connect to and update social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
So marketing on mobile phones has come full circle. After shrugging off initial limitations the technology has evolved and refined to the point that mobile marketing now offers advantages over many traditional marketing media.
With the latest generation iPhone, Blackberry and Android handsets, the choices for businesses wanting to reach their audiences are unlimited. In 2010, the opportunities for exciting mobile marketing will be greater than ever. So how are you going to take advantage?