A short time ago I came across an article on Mashablethat provided an infographic on mobile applications. Browsing through the graphic data, I kept thinking about the first statistic that was mentioned: in 2010, 297 million smartphones were sold, while a total of 1.6 billion mobile devices in general were sold. Among mobile users, 19 percent were carrying smartphones, and that number keeps increasing.
Consumers are becoming more and more reliant on smartphones, whether for social updating, mobile commerce or email. With the rise of location-based social networks such as FourSquare and Facebook Places, and the increase in consumer dependability on smartphones, I was wondering why many companies have not yet taken a more active role in mobile marketing.
Recently I read an article about a McDonald’s campaign in Sweden that completely blew my mind. McDonald’s launched an interactive video billboard campaign that let users play a game of Pong on their phones for a chance to win free food at a nearby McDonalds. What makes this stand out even more was that the game was played on a billboard! Users simply had to enter a URL in their mobile phone’s browser, wait for their phone to confirm that they were in the area, and then the game would begin with the user controlling their paddle with the smartphone.
As consumers, we want to feel as if we are interacting with the places where we eat and shop. When using location-based tools like FourSquare, the experience becomes more enjoyable if we go to a restaurant or store that provides rewards and incentives for check-ins. Most brands don’t have the money or capabilities to do a campaign like that of McDonalds, but what they can do is show their customers that they care about them and also reward them for their loyalty.
The success of the McDonalds campaign didn’t lie in giving out free food and getting people to play their game; it resulted from the fact that McDonald’s showed its customers that it’s thinking about them—and, as consumers, that’s all we want.
— Eric Dornbrook is an intern at Airfoil Public Relations, a high tech PR agency with offices in Detroit and Silicon Valley.