Verve Wireless is one of the leading mobile media companies in the US. It publishes local, national and international content for media companies over the mobile Internet. As a result of its focus on local news sources, Verve now has an extensive network of local media partners – which it is now using to create a network of local mobile advertising partners.
Verve announced four more partnerships within the last week. Media News Group, A.H. Belo Corporation, Hearst Corporation and Cox Newspapers now all use Verve to mobilize their local media properties. These additions mean Verve now mobilizes over 450 local media properties. This grass-roots network is now being used to create mobile advertising for small and medium businesses. Verve claims that local businesses like restaurants and retail outlets have adopted mobile to an extent even greater than larger, national brands. I had a great interview with Greg Hallinan, VP Marketing at Verve Wireless, about the service.
Do you see the future of mobile marketing as being local?
From our own data, the kind of response rates from local targeted campaigns – specifically from a local business that is known in the area – is stratospheric. Unsolicited messages from larger brands are often ignored or treated as spam, but when it’s from a trusted local business it has a better response rate. This is something that national brands can’t replicate. Local news sources or local businesses actually have feet on the ground in the area. They know people.
Can you give us details of some specific campaigns?
Part of the reason this system works so well is because it so efficient – there is very little waste when targeting locally. An example would be a regional retail store called Shoestation. They created a pilot shortcode campaign that only ran for 48-hours over one weekend. But it was kept local, and the 50% response rate on the coupons – and 20%+ completion of those responses. Now, overall this totalled about 8 sales over the weekend. So that’s not a big deal at a national level. But for a small, local retail store that’s a huge number of completed sales for a very low cost campaign. And we have hundreds of campaigns running across our platform like this.
How much of the States can you cover?
All the top 200 designated market areas – every state in the Union. We might be missing North Dakota right now. But small to medium businesses can run local campaigns with us from Alaska to Florida.
What we want to see is Ad Sales Reps for local media sources turning into Local Marketing Consultants. They’d have a number of tools in a toolkit – mobile marketing tools they could use to drive customers to a particular restaurant on a Tuesday night. The thing is that these people already have the local contacts – they know what works for the people in the area.
What mobile marketing options could they offer? What channels can you advertise through?
We’ve already talked about shortcodes. We can also provide full scan mobile coupons. SMS programs and advertising. Mobile display ads and mobile video ads. We can create mobile landing pages, with click-to-call and click-to-reserve options. And we can spread the word on those by integrating TV spots and print ads into a campaign. We don’t use mobile barcodes yet… technical problems mean that is still a bit away in the States
This offering is scaleable – a small business can take or leave whatever parts of this it wants. Because of that, our Advertising Ops team is letting the different markets decide what works best in their market. Then we can take those learnings and cross-pollinating with the other markets.
Verve is positioned right between news print media and the mobile web. Where do you see those two industries combining in the next few years?
From the mobile perspective, I’ll have to use the word “convergence”. News print is never going to go away, but it has to scale back. So we’re seeing them fall back on their core business of local journalism – however that’s consumed. So we’re seeing them going after mobile because it has that portability and penetration of the local market.
From the release:
“We have been advertising in print and online with Media General and are quite impressed with the results we have gotten from our initial mobile campaigns,” said Brent Barkin, vice president and director e-commerce for Shoe Station “We created a mobile campaign that included a text code that we added to our website and to the paper receipts for in store purchases, within minutes we were seeing responses that converted into sales.”
“Our core focus remains making it easy for our local media partners to easily bring their content to mobile including news content and advertising,” said Tom Kenney, president and co-founder of Verve Wireless. “We have a training program for our local media partners to educate them on how to best take advantage of mobile. Once they start using it, they see the potential and their ad sales teams start to create unique and creative programs for their clients.”
What we think?
I really enjoyed that interview. Greg started off by saying the news wasn’t “as sexy as the cure for cancer or cold fusion” – but I still think it’s pretty sexy! I particularly liked the honesty about the Shoestation campaign. 8 sales really isn’t anything on a national scale. But for a small retailer, getting 8 extra people through the door is great. It’s a problem that I’ve seen again and again in mobile advertising. So many of the small. proof-of-concept mobile campaigns that get run do great… and then they fizzle when they’re run at a national level. Advertising + mobile has not equalled huge success. But advertising + mobile + huge network of local media sources might just do the job.