Mobile operators have largely been cut out of the mobile content ecosystem as it has been developed by Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), but there are still opportunities for them in the wider mobile world. One of these is in the area of mobile marketing: a new survey from YouGov in the UK, provided exclusively to mocoNews, indicates that while there are still a large number of people out there who remain opposed to mobile marketing, there is a sizeable proportion who are okay with it, and are most likely to accept it when it comes from their mobile operator rather than another party.
Mobile marketing is expected to continue to grow in the U.S. this year, with brands expected to invest more than $1 billion on mobile marketing in the U.S. alone in 2011, according to Forrester Research.
YouGov’s survey, carried out on behalf of the mobile marketing company Upstream, canvassed 2,198 adults in the UK, with the data collected online between November and December 2010. Some of the findings:
— Texting is tops. At 61 percent, text messages were the most preferred form of communication, with 51 percent saying they would like the information delivered alongside other service-related messages (eg voicemail alerts or top-up confirmations).
— Mobile operators above other marketeers. When it comes to accepting mobile marketing offers by SMS, the majority of people said they were more trusting of their mobile phone companies than of other parties: 52 percent in favor of operators versus just eight percent trusting third-party retailers. A whopping 88 percent said it was unacceptable for mobile operators to feature third-party advertising, with 72 percent saying they would consider changing operators if the current provider started featuring third-party ads and 21 percent would leave immediately.
— There is a limit, though. Even among those who were okay with mobile operators marketing to them, on average only 14 percent of respondents said they would be happy with mobile marketing-based offers more than twice a month. Higher-bracket (ABC1) users were less inclined for such offers, at eight percent; lower-bracket (C2DE) users were a bit more amenable (20 percent). 38 percent were okay with “no more than one” marketing shot per month.
— Mobile marketing used for…mobile products. It’s not clear yet that mobile operators have much of a shot in using their marketing muscle for anything other than their own products. [Which bodes badly for some of the mobile marketing initiatives we’ve seen from the likes of Orange, with its purchase of Unanimis and tie-up with Blyk; or O2 with its plans for a free WiFi network that it could use to deliver marketing services to users.]
The survey found that people are most interested in getting mobile offers from their mobile operators, with 59 percent of consumers saying they would like these. The most positive response came for suggestions that were personalised — 15 percent. Other areas included general discounts (13 percent), proposals for a handset upgrades (8 percent) and personalised notifications of new service launches (4 percent).
It should be noted that Upstream itself provides mobile marketing solutions, working specifically with mobile operators such as Vodafone (NYSE: VOD), T-Mobile, TIM, Orange, Telefonica (NYSE: TEF) and America Movil. In that sense, conclusions that advocate mobile marketing done via operators are not too surprising to see in a survey sponsored by them.