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Citigroup exec: Mobile users have doubled year-over-year

October 3, 2012

NEW YORK – A Citigroup executive at the Mobile Marketing Association’s SM2 conference said that the company’s mobile users have doubled during the comparable first quarters of 2011 and 2012.

During the “Reboot: The Power of Transformation” session, executives from The Weather Channel, Citigroup, Millennial Media, Maxus North America and SGN spoke about how consumers are no longer tethered to one screen. The session also presented a look at how mobile fits into a brand’s overall marketing strategy and the opportunities that the medium presents.

“As a communication device, mobile is reaching a point of maturity,” said Michelle Peluso, global consumer chief marketing and Internet officer at Citigroup, New York.

“Mobile — particularly in emerging markets — is really transforming who we are, what the banking industry and of course, how we talk and communicate with our customers,” she said.

Bank on mobile
Approximately 75 percent of the world’s population has some access to a mobile device, per research presented by Ms. Peluso. However, a large chunk of the world’s consumers are unbanked, showing how the medium can be to propel the banking industry.

According to the executive, close to 20 percent of United States mobile device owners use their devices for banking. These mobile users are predominantly interested in simple banking options, such as checking account balances and transferring funds.

Since launching mobile check deposit earlier this year, Citigroup is seeing a large proportion of all deposits being made through handsets, per Ms. Peluso.

Mobile is also changing customer service. For instance, letting consumers receive real-time help and solve pain points. Citigroup is also experimenting with video chats.

Social media can also help financial institutions leverage data on a huge group of mobile users, per the Citigroup exec.

With tablets, touch can be particularly interesting with HTML5 and Web-based products. When designing for mobile, the user experience always comes first.

The executive said that Citigroup is piloting mobile payments in 40 countries to better understand how consumers respond to mobile wallets.

Mobile weather
David Kenny, chairman and CEO of The Weather Channel, Atlanta also spoke on the panel about how weather can be used to target consumers at a local level.

Using a location’s weather can help advertising become more effective.

The Weather Channel claims to have 47.2 monthly million users. The company also recently reached 90 million app downloads.

Although some marketers may be weary of using mobile, the executive said that mobile CPMs are similar to Web advertisements.

In order for mobile to be effective though, it has be part of an overall initiative, per Mr. Kenny.

“Mobile has to fit in a business model – and if you do it well, it is incremental,” Mr. Kenny said.

“Mobile allows you to be more creative,” he said.

The executive also presented a few recent case study examples of brands that are using mobile advertising to their advantage.

For example, Burberry recently placed an ad on the background of the Weather Channel’s iPad app during the recent London Olympics. The brand filmed weather scenes that were displayed as branded messages.

Additionally, Ace Hardware uses mobile advertising with The Weather Channel to help consumers experiment in the space.

Looking forward, The Weather Channel is planning to launch a new Android app in February 2013.

Untethered consumers
According to Paul Paulmieri, CEO of Millennial Media, Baltimore, consumers are connected to multiple screens, often at the same time. Therefore, it is critical to understand what a consumer’s first screen is.

Research from InsightExpress found that 40 percent of mobile usage takes place inside the home, showing how a large chunk of mobile usage is not on the go.

In particular, tablets are growing quickly and present opportunities for marketers to tie mobile to traditional in-home marketing such as print and television.

“It doesn’t matter what you label it, the point is that mobile is the only screen continuously available to marketers,” Mr. Paulmieri said.

“If at all times mobile is the first screen, it should be the first canvas for marketers,” he said.

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

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