Weve, the mobile marketing and wallet joint venture between EE, O2 and Vodafone, marks one of the most important launches in the mobile market to date, but what difference has it made to brands’ marketing strategies? Jessica Davies takes a closer look.
Touted as the holy grail for marketers at launch a year ago, Weve promised to give what marketers had previously only dreamed of – a single gateway through which they can run highly targeted, contextually relevant mobile campaigns, at scale.
Since launch, the EE, O2 and Vodafone mobile marketing and wallet joint venture has kept a smaller media profile, all the while gradually growing the opt-in customer database across the three mobile networks, which together dominate 80 per cent of the market, from 15 to 20 million, quadrupling its staff count to nearly 100 people, while clocking up some 450 brand clients.
Now it is poised to take its plans to the next level, with the company expected to begin announcing detailed plans in both the payment and loyalty space in the coming weeks, while its display ad proposition beta rollout is imminent.
Coca-Cola, Heineken, Microsoft, Tesco and Lucozade are among the brands to have worked extensively with Weve over the past year, using its SMS message targeting service, which can be used in conjunction with additional data including location and weather to tailor offers and promotions to customers.
Now many of them are looking to scale what they have learned so far. Coca-Cola Enterprises has been working closely with the company over the past year to test what kind of content is popular and welcome with customers on mobile devices, and at what time.
Extensive research it has undertaken has shown that discount offers do not necessarily “motivate” customers to either engage with or purchase its products, with many citing engaging content as a preferred means of communication with the brand, according to Coca-Cola Enterprises digital director Simon Miles.
In fact people are increasingly favouring engaging, fun content that is worth sharing, such as video or games, over traditional offers, which Miles admits came as a surprise. “You go out with the best intentions thinking something will work and then you figure out some bits work and some don’t – and then you evolve the content.
“We started off with the obvious things, such as using location to drive people into specific stores where they would get money off products, but we saw from our research that it’s actually more about great content – something unique that is shareable – that’s where the attraction lies, so that’s what we are looking to build more into future activity.”
Now it is working with Weve to find the contextual targeting sweet spot, ensuring it is delivering the right message to the right person at the time it would be of most use to them, according to Miles.
“We are looking at how you make the whole contextual piece as relevant as possible. If you make the most relevant offer available at the right time you’re onto a winner. What we have learned is the closer you can get to the point of purchase, or more you can get to know about the base user in the first place, the more chance you have of that becoming a transaction,” he says.
Miles believes Weve has made a “significant wave” in the mobile marketing space, helping the FMCG giant start to scale some of its trials, while providing a tangible way of using mobile to underpin its overall marketing strategy, rather than being treated as a standalone channel.
“We have been on a big learning curve with Weve,” he says. “When we first set up a digital team it was very standalone and much more about test and learn, but it’s now at sufficient scale that it can be integrated into the rest of the business.”
Weve has a busy road map ahead, including developments in loyalty, payments, and display ad messaging, all of which provide a “powerful” combination, according to Miles.
“Location is still very exciting. We are doing a lot there in the summer and can start to understand more about where a person is travelling from and to, then we can overlay weather data – so if it’s a Friday lunch time for example and the weather is fine a nice cold Coke would go down nicely – this is where Weve is doing some leading thinking and it could be very powerful,” he says.
Contextually relevant communications
It is the ability to scale contextually relevant mobile messaging, and in future, mobile display ads, that will help prove the value of mobile within the entire marketing mix, becoming the glue that ties together campaign activity across different mediums.
Lucozade is another brand to have demonstrated this with its own trials, having kicked off a campaign in which it worked with Weve to drive awareness and sales of its brand Revive. The campaign, which it ran with MediaCom, targeted consumers aged between 25 and 35 years old located within close proximity of stores which stocked the product.
SMS and MMS messages were sent to consumers on weekday afternoons informing them of reduced price Lucozade Revive at selected local stores, supported by out-of-home (OOH) advertising. The results revealed that one in five media-driven sales came from mobile messaging, which was also deemed 40 per cent more efficient than other media channels in driving sales. The combination of OOH advertising and mobile messaging also proved effective, with sales seeing an eight per cent increase as a direct result of the two mediums running parallel. The figures led to MediaCom recommending that 15 per cent of total OOH spend should be allocated to mobile messaging.
Tesco has also seen some good results from running test campaigns in which it targeted media rich mobile messages to consumers living in a Tesco catchment area where it was promoting particular offers. It reports that 68 per cent of consumers that received the messages were unaware of the promotion, while 40 per cent of them took advantage of the offer, with the message generating nearly 40,000 clicks in total.
Understanding the role of mobile media
Heineken is among one of the biggest investors in Weve, having committed £500,000 in 2013 to running campaigns via the platform, negotiated with its agency Starcom Mediavest.
The strategy has been to investigate the role mobile advertising can have within the overall marketing mix across the drinks giant’s portfolio of brands including Strongbow, Bulmers and Foster’s.
Starcom Mediavest director Matt Lloyd says the variation of targeting and messaging options provided a “huge opportunity” to start to test the medium and drive understanding of the best ways to engage with drinkers.
“What is fascinating about the role of mobile media, in all its guises, is that in one medium you can legitimately design campaigns that can satisfy a number of objectives. From a viewing device through to a method of payment, mobile phones seamlessly switch function. “
The challenge is how you design experiences that reflect the consumption experience, and the surrounding in which this consumption will occur. While it is tempting to plan campaigns for the device, ultimately it is still about the person holding the device and the mindset they are in when consuming your message. Weve is clearly well positioned to help us understand this consumer experience and therefore work with us to design effective campaigns,” he says.
The power of data
Meanwhile Microsoft has been working with Weve to target competitor handsets to promote its Windows Phone via messaging, which has in turn helped identify what kind of messaging resonates most with consumers.
Leila Martine, director, Windows Phone at Microsoft UK says one of the biggest opportunities its work with Weve has opened up is the ability to target customers who are nearing the end of their contract and therefore in a position to consider a new smartphone.
“On top of that level of targeting we have then been able to target customers by their age and data usage to ensure they are sent a message about the best suited Nokia Lumia product to their needs. This is very significant as it means we can send messages to customers that are as relevant and timely as possible. We have also used the capabilities to support events, through sending geo-targeted messages to customers within the local vicinity of an event to encourage them to pop in to that event to get hands on with the devices and ask any questions they have,” she says.
This particular campaign has also let the brand see how its messages perform with the audience across each of its competitors’ devices, with insight gained into which Nokia Lumia range performs best for each competitor providing “valuable” information on which device they are most likely to switch to, according to Martine.
“In particular we saw a 2.7 per cent uplift from our usual level of engagement once we optimised the messaging for our Christmas campaign,” she adds.
Now it will look to further drive this understanding of its own smartphone users and those of its competitors to ultimately drive purchase intent. “The possibility of retargeting customers that we know have engaged with our messages and being able to send further highly relevant messages to hopefully move them onto the consideration level is very exciting.
“Also the ability to see robust data lets us systematically see how effective our targeting approach is and enables us to react quickly to impact share numbers. The further developments of having display advertising that can be just as targeted is also very interesting as it will allow us to broaden the message while still continuing the high relevancy to the target audience,” she says.
Although brands are not quite at the stage where they are comfortable shouting their results from such campaigns from the rooftops, it’s clear the potential is huge – evidenced by the fact they are all continuing to invest. With Weve’s road map of payments, targeting display ads and loyalty, there is plenty for marketers to feel excited about and with consumers continuing to sign up for the messaging on the Weve platform, this could be a real game changer in mobile advertising.
This feature initially ran in the 5 February issue of The Drum which can be purchased directly from the Drum Store.