This blog posting is a reprint of my article in the October 2009 issue of JAM: The Journal of Arts Marketing published by the Arts Marketing Association.  The issue is devoted to the topic of Mobile Marketing, and you can read the entire Mobile Marketing issue here. (PDF)

Mobile Marketing Research Round Up

Mobile phones aren’t just for talking on:  the UK’s burgeoning love affair with the mobile Internet means lots of new opportunities for arts marketing professionals.  Most handsets are now Internet enabled, mobile phone companies are offering “unlimited” Internet data tariffs, and 90% of UK residents live in postcode districts offering 3G mobile services with increased capacity for delivering high speed data and voice.[i]

But the love affair is still in its early stages, and adoption of the mobile Internet has plenty of potential for continued growth.   According to The Nielsen Company, over 8 million people in the UK, or 16% of adults, used their mobile phone to gain access to the Internet in the first quarter of 2009. And Nielsen also report that the number of people accessing the Internet via their mobile is growing more rapidly than those going online using their computer.

But do our audiences use mobile?  Is this mobile activity the sole preserve of geeks, and the younger generation? Orange’s Exposure 2 Research reports the average age of mobile media users as a surprisingly mature 36.  Men are twice as likely as women to access the Internet via their mobile phone , 15% and 8% of mobile phone users respectively, and the most popular activity for all users is sending or uploading of photographs or video clips.[ii]

Where do they use their mobile?  Exposure 2 reports the answer may be at home, with 67% of mobile users reading their email at home, and 56% engaged in mobile Internet browsing.  If they’re on public transport, they’re likely to be engaged with entertainment, and when about and about they’re looking for local information to help facilitate moving about.  This probably means more of your audience are looking at your content via mobile than you realised.  I may read your emails whilst at home, but there’s a good chance I won’t be reading them on my PC, but rather on my Blackberry.  How good do your emails look on a mobile phone?  How easy is it to interact with your website on a mobile phone if I want to see what’s on?

One surprising demographic that may challenge your assumptions, however, may be that teens browse the mobile Internet less than half as much as the typical user.  Today’s teens, or “Digital Natives,” are less likely than working adults to have all-day access to broadband connections, with 77% of teens saying they are not permitted to use their phone in class.[iii]

Apple iPhone users in particular are phenomenally busy on the Internet: comScore reports 79% of iPhone users accessed news or information via their mobile browser, four times the rate for all mobile phone users.  Keep in mind that only 2% of UK mobile phones are iPhones, and 75% of iPhone users are male, mostly between the ages of 18 to 44.[iv]

iPhone users personalise their mobile to suit their own preferences, and have downloaded more than a billion applications, or apps, in the first 9 months of the iPhone launch.  The all time most popular application is Facebook, but applications like “Artsnear Pro”[v] helps users to discover museums and galleries by city or by proximity, and includes calendars of events and openings.    The “Broadway in Chicago”[vi] app helps you to find what’s on stage, performance times, preview video, and purchase tickets. And here in the UK, Queen Theatrical Productions launched “We Will Rock You” in September 2009, professing to be the first UK theatrical iPhone game application.

This boom in mobile user activity leads inevitably to advertiser growth.  Advertisers spent £28.6 million on mobile advertising in 2008, and the Mobile Marketing Association predicts mobile will grow by 26% this year, despite the economic turn down, and despite the decline in traditional media advertising.[vii]

Developing a strategy for mobile marketing starts with understanding how, and why, your audiences interact with the technology.  Orange[viii] breaks the mobile users’ universe down into 3 groups correlating to age: Mainstream, Selective, and Tentative.  “Mainstream” users are under 25, accessing web based as well as mobile Internet sites, and for whom mobile entertainment is a key driver.  The 25-44 year olds are “Selective,” using the Internet to keep up to date, with email as their key driver, and wanting brief, to the point mobile information.  And finally, “Tentative” users are over 45, are aware there is a lot available on their mobile but not exactly sure what, and are using mobile to access sports scores or news.

There are specific mobile marketing opportunities for arts organisations, and one of the most significant is the mobile use of social networking sites.  The IAB reports (2009) that 25% of all social networkers use their mobile to check or update their pages.   44% of 16 to 24 year olds say they make updates via their mobile, with a further 17% of over 55’s also using mobile social networking. [ix] Facebook and Twitter have set up dedicated sites, formatted for the mobile screen. For lovers of social networking, mobile is now mainstream.

Mobile offers marketers a whole basket of new marketing opportunities.  Text messaging is a well established mobile application that integrates well with offline ads, and research from M-Metrics indicates 75% of mobile subscribers have sent text messages in reply to an offline ad.  Outbound SMS is already in use in a number of arts organisations around the UK including the Ambassadors Theatre who are developing strategies for outbound SMS messages to existing customers.

But mobile marketing isn’t just about text messages.  Other forms of mobile marketing will overtake SMS text ad spend in 2009[x] with growth  in mobile advertising in search engine advertising, display adverts and classified ads leading the way.

Mobile ticketing, which offers users the ability to store a ticket on their mobile phone for later redemption, is predicted to experience exceptionally high growth, with over 410 million users worldwide receiving and redeeming tickets by 2013.[xi] Benefits of mobile ticketing include reduced costs, reduced carbon footprint by reducing paper, and better security.

New forms of advertising will also show exceptionally growth, in particular “Idle Screen” advertising, which doesn’t interrupt a user’s activities.  Likewise, users are very interested in Location based advertising, which can be well targeted and the precision means relevant and engaging advertising.

So, how important should mobile be in your marketing mix? Is your audience using mobile technologies? Are there ways of using mobile services that fit your budget? And are you ready to experiment with some innovative marketing techniques?


[i] Emily Keaney:  “The digital world: a review of the evidence” Arts Council England, May 2009

[ii] Exposure 2 Research Orange Home UK plc, March 2009

[iii] How Teens Use Media: A Nielsen report on the myths and realities of teen media trends. The Nielsen Company, June 2009 p.9

[iv] comScore releases First Data on iPhone Users in the UK. comScore Inc, March 2009

[v] Download at

[vi] Download at

[vii] Mobile Marketing Buyers Guide eConsultancy, August 2009, pp 4-5

[viii] Exposure Research Orange Home UK plc, November 2007

[ix] Ten things you need to know about mobile advertising The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) May 2009

[x] Advertising – the future’s bright, the future’s mobile, a white paper in Mobile Advertising: Delivery Channels, Business Models & Forecasts 2009 -2014 Juniper Research, June 2009.

[xi] Mobile – Just The Ticket a white paper in Mobile Ticketing: Transport, Entertainment and Events 2008 – 2013 Juniper Research, October 2008, p6

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *