More of us send text messages than know what the red button on our TV does, so why aren't more brands using mobile to interact?
How many of us have used our mobiles to vote to kick out a contestant on Big Brother? How about trying to win some cash by answering questions on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? The answer is quite a few of us, and advertisers are catching on.
The use of mobile phones, especially for texting, is rising as part of our everyday TV consumption. Just five years ago we were staring passively at the TV; now we are being invited to take part. Programmes such as Endemol's Big Brother, shown on Channel 4, and Celador's Millionaire, which airs on ITV, have opened advertisers' eyes to the possibility that the audience could interact with a brand on TV in a new way.
According to Simon Gunning, head of interactive media at Celador International, the way in which people interact with TV has changed fundamentally. Viewers expect more than just a linear video stream and are more than willing to use their mobiles to interact. 'Over the past 18 months, mobile has come into the frame more than red-button activity,' he says. 'Think of who that audience is: you can see the opportunities for brands.'
Yet, despite the huge success of these programmes and the ubiquity of the mobile phone, there hasn't been a parallel rise in TV ad campaigns being integrated with a mobile element. One reason is that firm figures are not easy to come by and no-one wants to be on the bleeding edge of a marketing revolution.
Nick Wiggin, chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association, believes the area of credibility is being addressed. 'There is an issue in getting everyone to release their data,' he says. 'We are trying to create a forum to develop some guidelines to set up a mobile currency that the whole industry can use.'
Despite being hampered by this lack of firm data, the mobile marketing industry is growing and success stories are starting to emerge. The area that is seeing most growth is the use of mobile as a direct response medium for TV ads.
Pamir Gelenbe, director of Flytxt, which works with clients including Coca-Cola, Muller and Orange, says the agency is seeing a boom in direct response ads. 'Text is proving to be a very powerful direct response mechanism,' he says. 'More than the traditional phone ever was - people can't be bothered to make a phone call, but a text is so immediate.'
Muller, the yoghurt and dessert company, ran an integrated TV and mobile campaign in conjunction with Flytxt to tie in with the release of the recent Bridget Jones sequel. It believes mobile marketing is a great way of extending the brand experience.
'With direct response campaigns using postcode- and address-finders, you can engage with consumers and add value to TV advertising through dialogue, rather than simply talking 'at' the consumer,' says a Muller spokeswoman.
While direct response advertising is booming, mobile mark-eting has not formed part of many truly integrated campaigns, which could enhance the relationship between advertiser and consumer, above just text-to-win or vote.
One brand that is trying to harness the power of mobile beyond the level of direct response with TV is iconic clothing label Levi's. Well known for its TV advertising spots, the brand had to be sure of the success of adding a mobile element to a campaign before changing its award-winning format.
For the first time, Levi's decided to debut its latest ad via a WAP site, giving those who downloaded it a first look at the ad before it aired on TV. Helene Venge, head of digital marketing at Levi's Europe, says the purpose of the activity was primarily to extend the reach of the brand.
'WAP is a great way to reach a youth audience,' she says. 'We use mobile as a pull medium - not, as many advertisers do, to push. …