Digital Marketing

A brief history of mobile marketing

Evolution of mobile marketing

In 1973, a certain Martin Cooper, invented something that changed the world as dramatically as the wheel and electricity. But his invention would go reasonably unnoticed for another two decades. It wasn’t until 1992 that someone got the idea to send a text message from their computer to a mobile phone. Four years later, the first mobile phone capable of browsing the internet hit the market. Since then, mobile marketing has grown immensely year on year. It now stands as the go-to point of investment for brands and businesses wishing to engage with their customers. We examine the development and adoption of mobile marketing and mobile search over the years.

2000: The first mobile ad is shared via SMS

SMS as a marketing vehicle wasn’t adopted by advertisers until 2000, but mobile data services were introduced some nine years earlier in Finland. Remember 2G? That’s what the telecommunications company Radiolinja (now Elisa) rolled out. The first person-to-person text was sent in late 1994 and initiated a gradual trend of “texting” between friends into the late 90s. Finland again was at the forefront of innovation when, at the turn of the 21st century, a Finnish news provider decided to offer free news headlines via SMS, sponsored by advertising. From there, marketers experimented with other forms of mobile marketing.

2002: SMS becomes mass media

Marketers realized that SMS was an incredibly unobtrusive means of advertising. And, with mobile phones slowly proliferating, it’d be an increasingly effective channel with its concise messaging and location-based benefits. Soon, companies large and small were SMSing their customers all sorts of offerings. It was a good strategy because SMS providers guaranteed reliable delivery to customers. In fact, this mobile marketing strategy was so successful that it likely spawned the mobile phone you carry around with you daily. The smartphone wasn’t just created for playing Angry Birds, taking selfies or browsing Facebook. Its development was also spurred on by advertisers, recognizing their usefulness to capture customer attention.

2007: Smartphones get smarter

While the release of the iPhone in 2007 was a coup for the mobile marketing industry, the ads themselves struggled to keep up with the innovation. They were clunky and annoying and left users frustrated. This is because marketers would often use desktop browser ads in their mobile channels and eventually lead to the responsive techniques that advertisers use in mobile marketing today.

The proliferation of 3G also fuelled the adoption of mobile phones as the first point of contact between marketers and customers. And with this new generation, came apps in every shape and form. From fitness trackers and games to maps and social media, apps became the way people consumed the internet.

2010 and beyond: Mobile marketing continues to evolve

By the time Apple launched its first iPad, the size of the US mobile advertising market had grown to a staggering  $1.45 billion. That would later pale in comparison to future revenues as Apple and Google continued to push the adoption of mobile.

In 2014, developers were building ads into mobile apps. It was found that users were spending most of their time playing Candy Crush or stalking exes on social media apps. The internet browser had become an afterthought. This was a tipping point. Mobile ads had to be seamless and engaging, or they simply didn’t work. By now, paid media was an extremely popular mechanism and competition for the attention of people was at an all-time high. These factors continue to push mobile marketers to better the overall ad experience.

In 2017, the world is orientated towards mobile first. It seems that mobile phones and devices are entwined in everything we do. It’s no surprise then that we see hundreds, sometimes thousands, of ads every day. To break through the clutter and gain conversions, mobile marketers need to constantly push the boundaries and create new trends. Our latest article touches on some of these new trends and outlines what mobile marketers are up to currently and how SMS continues to play a vital role in mobile marketing success.

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