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Race for mobile relevance

September 18, 2012

James Orsini is president/CEO of Single Touch Systems

James Orsini is president/CEO of Single Touch Systems

By James Orsini

With the 2012 London Olympics behind us, I think it only fitting to get brands focused on another race of significant importance – the race to establish mobile relevance.

While showing signs of periodic progress, virtually no brands have gotten beyond the starter’s block.

Sure, while some brands have found their way to the starting line in the mobile world, few have begun to take this race seriously as evidenced by the lack of mobile spending by advertisers in the chart below.


With CTIA – the Wireless Association reporting more mobile devices than people in the United States for the first time in history, why are brands so slow to find their way to the gate?

I have spoken with representatives from several of the top brands featured in Interbrand’s 2012 World’s Most Valuable Brands list and was shocked to discover that while most companies have access to customer mailing addresses and email address, many have yet to begin amassing mobile phone numbers for their customer base.

Do I understand this correctly? Every one of your consumers has a mobile device – sometimes two – and companies have no way to communicate to them on this device?

Now most brands will contend “but we have an app, therefore, we are in the race.” But, as GSM Association reports, that while the average smartphone user downloads 60 applications, he or she only uses six.

So, if indeed this is a race for relevance in the most intimate and trusted personal channel, there may be as few as six spots qualifying for this race. Will you be one of the six brands who garners, my attention and that I allow into my trusted mobile channel?

GSM Association source data tells us 75 percent of the world’s population is connected by mobile phone and more than 8 trillion text messages were sent in 2011. This number is growing by the day.

In fact, because of the ease of user interface, smartphone users sign up for text alerts 4 percent more than feature phone users.

Brands are being taxed with developing relevant content or simply sourcing me to existing content, but only after Mobile Marketing Association guidelines say I must permit you to send to my device.

The ask
Ask me, and I might grant you, show me and I might allow you, give me and I might reward you with my attention. Why have most brands remained silent to date on this simple ask?

Like those fortunate enough to have had tickets to the events in London, we as consumers are ready for the mobile games to begin.

All 330 million of us in the U.S. alone are sitting in the stands awaiting the starter’s gun.

Today we see one or two brands walking towards the starter’s block. Will your brand be one of the six that enters the race for mobile relevance? Will your brand be one of the six I allow into my trust channel? You got to be in it to win it.

James Orsini is president/CEO of Single Touch Systems Inc., Jersey City, NJ. Reach him at

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