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Applebee’s eyes mobile video to bolster foot traffic

January 4, 2013

Applebee's mobile site

Casual dining chain Applebee’s is highlighting mobile video content as part of a marketing campaign to help launch a new line of low-calorie meals.

The Applebee’s mobile ads are running inside the Hulu Plus iPhone application and are part of a bigger multichannel campaign that promotes the new Applebee’s menu items. Users who click through the video ads are targeted by their location via a store locator that automatically pops up.

“Trying different messages to collect data through location-based marketing is critical to learning what works,” said Marci Troutman, CEO of SiteMinis, Atlanta.

“President Obama’s team tried over 300 different messages before they found the one message that worked to gain contributions,” she said.

Ms. Troutman is not affiliated with Applebee’s. She commented based on her expertise on the subject.

Applebee’s did not respond to press inquiries.

Mobile meals
The ads are running as commercial breaks between content in the app.

The videos are cut down to run as 15-second commercials. The videos features images of the Applebee’s menu items.

Users can then click on the learn more button, which brings up Applebee’s mobile site.

From there, consumers can learn more about all of Applebee’s menu items that are under 550 calories with pictures and descriptions of each meal.

Furthermore, a store locator in the top left-hand corner of the page uses a mobile device’s built-in GPS to find the nearest restaurant for users. Users can call the location to place an order, view the local menu or get directions.

Additionally, social media buttons that connect to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are all prominently promoted at the bottom of the page.

Consumers can also buy digital gift cards via the mobile site that are sent via email or Facebook.

After users finish interacting with content, they can exit the landing page, finish watching the commercial and continue viewing their content.

In addition to the mobile video spots, Applebee’s is also pushing campaign-specific content on its YouTube page.

Driving foot traffic
Applebee’s has been in the mobile space for a while.

In 2010, the company rolled out a mobile application to let consumers find nearby locations and local deals (see story).

Additionally, last year the Thomas & King franchise Applebee’s locations used tabletop QR codes that the company claim led to a 9.8 percent increase in lunch sales (see story).

An initiative such as this one works for Applebee’s on a few different levels.

Unlike many other mobile campaigns, the Applebee’s ad directs users to the specific landing page on its site to show users exactly what is advertised.

Additionally, by honing in on location once users click-though, it gives the ad some context.

Ultimately, the goal here is to drive foot traffic. Therefore, making content tailored and personalized will likely lead to stronger results for Applebee’s.

“Brands utilizing location-based ads are becoming much more important for consumers as they start to rely on clicking to find a location and being directed to the location via Google maps or a mobile navigation system via their phones,” Ms. Troutman said.

“Brands that sell a specific product within different retail locations and promote a ‘shop now’ or a coupon or special via mobile advertising should also apply the GPS location-based options as consumers reviewing the ad could utilize the special or coupon in a location they are currently shopping,” she said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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