Hampton Finds Value in Mobile Ads

CHICAGO Increased awareness and greater stay consideration were among the fruits of Hampton Hotels’ recent campaign on the Weather Channel’s mobile phone Web site.

The study by Dynamic Logic, a marketing metric firm based in New York, measured the effectiveness of the Hilton brand’s summer campaign on the Weather Channel Mobile Web. The site provides visitors with hourly forecasts, current conditions, severe weather warnings and radar maps for thousands of cities worldwide. Seventy-two percent of respondents in Dynamic Logic’s research had traveled within the past year; nearly two-thirds access the Web through their cellular phones more than once daily; and 42 percent visit weather.com more than once a day.

“We were definitely impressed with our first venture in mobile Web advertising, and we do have monies budgeted in 2008 to continue with this advertising initiative,” said Judy Christa Cathey, vp, Hampton brand marketing. “We are always looking for ways to better connect with younger target audiences, and we see mobile Web advertising as a trend with longevity in the advertising industry and for Hampton Hotels.”

The banner campaign raised message association with Hampton compared with other lodging brands. The favorability score toward Hampton was higher among consumers exposed to the ads, 62 percent, compared with the 48 percent of visitors who did not see the ads. Hampton mobile phone ads also increased the survey participants’ stay consideration for their next trip by 11.4 percent. Travel brands appear to be among the early adopters of mobile Web advertising since many travelers already research and book online. Airlines are assigning more resources to online and mobile advertising, and American Airlines in particular is devoting about 30 percent of its ad budget to those media.

“Early results, such as these, are encouraging because they show that mobile campaigns are being noticed and can have a positive impact on key brand measures,” said Kara Manatt, Dynamic Logic’s research director. “Historically, new formats often perform well at the outset since they are fresh to the eyes of the consumer. As we develop norms over time, we expect to have more detail on the staying power of mobile display advertising.”

The findings are in the best interests of Weather.com, which has been among the early players along with ESPN, USA Today and The New York Times in developing mobile advertising business models. Last March, Fox partnered with Third Screen Media to develop mobile advertising properties, and U.S. Sprint was among the first U.S. cellular phone players to announce a mobile Web effort.

Mobile Web advertising is small fry in the $300 billion world of U.S. advertising—$871 million in spending last year, per Informa Telecoms and Media, but marketers are lured by the potential of tapping into more than 200 million wireless subscribers in the U.S. Ads on a cell phone seem like an intrusion, but an Online Publishers Study released last March found that 18 percent of 6,000 consumers surveyed in the U.S. and Europe would watch advertising in exchange for free content. Twenty-two percent said they like advertising when it offers something for free.