All Articles Marketing Looking back on the year in mobile marketing: A Q-and-A with Vibes' CEO Jack Philbin

Looking back on the year in mobile marketing: A Q-and-A with Vibes’ CEO Jack Philbin

5 min read


As 2012 winds to a close, MMA SmartBrief  reached out to Jack Philbin, co-founder, president and CEO of Vibes, for his take on the stories and ideas that mattered most in the year we’re finishing — and the can’t-miss trends that will rock the year to come.

What do think was the biggest mobile marketing story of 2012? What development/trend/event shaped the industry the most?

2012 marks the year where the idea of having a mobile, personal computing device became mainstream. With the proliferation of smartphones reaching a tipping point this year, consumers of all levels of tech savviness — from grandmothers, to baby boomer parents, to recent college grads — are using their phones in new and more sophisticated ways. This reality has created new opportunities and challenges for marketers, particularly retailers. The term “showrooming” made headlines and quickly became associated with fear and negativity. While it is true that shoppers are researching competitive prices and sometimes making purchases while standing in a retailer’s aisle, the bigger opportunity for retailers now — and in 2013 — is to focus on all the “beyond-showrooming” options marketers have to connect and engage with shoppers on their mobile devices.

What were the best mobile marketing campaigns on 2012 in your eyes? What made them so remarkable?

There are a couple of all-stars this year. Starbucks brewed a good mobile marketing campaign in 2012, especially because of its engaging and personal app that allows you to pay directly from your phone. With gift card functionality, Starbucks has processed more than 100 million mobile transactions and averages 2.1 million purchases a week via the mobile phone. The app is designed to be a one-stop shop for all things Starbucks. The “myDrinks” feature allows users to tap and save their favorite hot and cold drinks. They can even save their best friend’s beverage choices. At the heart of the app is the scanner, which can scan any QR code, even outside of the Starbucks brand, and the “mycard,” which allows users to save favorite drinks, foods and Starbucks locations. Starbucks’ app provides enough rich content to keep coffee-goers caffeinated with all they need to know about their favorite brand.

Target also executed a powerful campaign with mobile coupons. Target’s mobile experience, which starts at signup, is easy and effective, requiring users to simply enter their mobile number online and select a couple of preferences — and multiple coupons are instantly delivered to users’ smartphones via text message with a link to a bigger mobile coupon book. What’s great about this campaign is that it allows customization, so users can receive experiences unique to them — and puts savings directly into consumers’ pockets in cool and creative ways.

One campaign Vibes powered that was compelling was Verizon’s NFL Huddle site, a cross-platform mobile Web experience designed as a companion piece to the NFL Mobile application. The campaign’s main objective was to drive downloads of the Verizon-sponsored NFL Mobile app and increase NFL fan engagement with the Verizon brand throughout the season. While exploring the huddle site, fans can also interact and engage with their favorite team through shareable virtual autographs from team players, opt-in for exclusive Verizon offers and receive team-specific fan promotions. This campaign scored touchdowns with fans because it offered opportunities to stay connected with the NFL, extending beyond game day.

Are there any trends or tools you’re particularly excited about as we head into the new year?

Stemming from the iPhone 5 launch in September, there’s been big buzz about Passbook and how the iOS 6 app will change the mobile ecosystem. Passbook is the leather, not the plastic — meaning it’s the wallet used to organize, but not pay, for items. Passbook helps the connected shopper keep track of various passes, including coupons, loyalty cards, tickets, boarding passes and gift cards, in one centrally located place. One of Passbook’s most impressive features is that it’s location aware, meaning when users have passes in Passbook and they walk past a store, an alert message appears on their phones, telling them a location is nearby where they can redeem passes. It’s a very subtle way to remind customers of an available offer or special event — with the convenience of always having the offer with you on your mobile phone. Mobile wallet marketing solutions will provide a big opportunity next year for marketers to reach consumers when they’re on the go.

What do you think a state-of-the-art mobile marketing program will look like in 2013?

Consumers want to engage with their favorite brands in a variety of ways — and they don’t typically differentiate between online and in-store experiences and print vs. online offers and promotions. I look forward to seeing a state-of-the art mobile program in 2013 where mobile plays a starring role from the beginning to the end of the path to purchase. To win next year, retailers and brands must deliver a cohesive marketing program from start to finish to drive brand loyalty. It starts with generating awareness, and continues through engagement, transaction and, ultimately, loyalty. This approach is designed to create immediate and long-lasting customer relationships by infusing mobile-appropriate experiences both online and offline. The result is an effective multichannel marketing experience, where mobile drives increased engagement, sales and brand loyalty.

Jack Philbin spearheads the Vibes’ overall strategic direction and drives Vibes’ position as one of the premier thought leaders in the mobile marketing and wireless industry. Jack has been instrumental in building mobile marketing as a strategic marketing channel by proving its value to a range of clients, from wireless carriers, to agencies, to consumer marketers. He is extremely active in the mobile marketing industry serving as chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association North American Board of Directors and is also a member of the CTIA Wireless Internet Caucus.