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Jun 12, 2002

Palm's Ken Wirt Discusses Integrated Campaigns, Wireless Ads, Online Partnerships & Low Cost Tactics

SUMMARY: In this exclusive interview Ken Wirt, VP Palm Inc and SVP Palm's Marketing Solutions Group, shares his insights on wireless ads, integrated online/offline marketing in general, low-cost campaigns that work, and the lesson he learned from an online marketing partnership.
Is wireless advertising ever going to take off?

In this exclusive interview Ken Wirt, VP Palm Inc and SVP Palm's Marketing Solutions Group, shares his insights on wireless ads, integrated online/offline marketing in general, low-cost campaigns that work, and the lesson he learned from an online marketing partnership. Read on.

QUESTION: There was a huge push a couple of years ago to get marketers on board with the idea of wireless marketing. What, at this point, do you feel is holding it back?

WIRT: Whatís happened is that the technology has progressed more slowly than everyone thought. The technology to provide the location services on cellphones to where it would be meaningful, like 100 yards, is just coming out now.

Regarding the whole issue of getting ads on phones, there just has not been much experimentation with it plus there are all kinds of privacy issues. If you wanted to buy those ads, there is not enough going on to do an accurate measurement of whether they are going to work.

I know that some companies that produce content for Palm, like Vidigo and AvantGo, are doing it today, and they have a multi- faceted business model that includes ads. Itís happening but, as I said, itís taking more time than expected.

The Holy Grail was really the instantaneous delivery of content, but wireless data networks are slow to be deployed. The first really always-on wireless data networks are just rolling out now, and there will be more of them.

There also are beaming stations, where a person can receive programs with information like flight status or neighborhood information. At Barnes & Noble, we had one [beaming station] that was informational. Itís not really an ad but you can get a sponsorship with your information and a coupon. In San Francisco we have one at PacBell Park that sends your Palm the lineup for the home and visiting teams. It also has a scoring application.

QUESTION: When do you believe wireless marketing will come to fruition?

WIRT: Honestly, itís just too early to say. Itís an interesting medium that offers advantages never seen before. As I said, there is some experimentation now. Maybe you will see things start to happen over the next year or so.

QUESTION: What are some best practices as well as what to avoid in the creation of a truly integrated marketing campaign?

WIRT: Iíd like to start with what to avoid. For one, you should avoid integration for integrationís sake. Simply taking the same material and running it in different media is not integration.

You should also make sure you are delivering messages and results to your selling partners. One of the big benefits of having a truly integrated campaign that the Web parts will always give you a better way to measure results. You can close the loop with sales.

What you want to do is take advantage of the special capabilities of each media type and know what they are. If you add them up, they tend to build on each other and reach the same targeted audience in a different way. You can create a bigger story, rather than building frequency.

QUESTION: Which of these kinds of campaigns was most successful for your brand and why?

WIRT: We ran a promotion over the holiday season that worked particularly well. For certain kinds of models, you can get a coupon for a 16 MB memory card. This promotion included Palm ads on TV. We also partnered with Panasonic, which created the card. Certain commercials showed the card going from Panasonic into the Palm. Panasonic ran print and outdoor ads that showed its digital cameras and the Palm, with a bigger image of the Panasonic camera.

One billboard said ĎMemory that is willing to relocate,í showing the card moving from the camera to a Palm device. Another portion of the campaign ran on the Web. We used the Web as an immediate stimulation to purchase. Banners and large format ads said ĎIts Free If You Buy Now.í All of these ads were very targeted. Itís easy to target on sites that specialize in PDAs.

Another piece of the same campaign was PR. We did a release in conjunction with Panasonic that focused on benefits of media. With the PR, we were able to get a bigger story out about the product we were giving away. TV, on the other hand, was more emotional.

The final part of the campaign was retailer cooperation. We brought materials to retailers, such as information flyers and displays. These had a circular with different Palm models advertised; below, it had bullets with benefits of the SD technology. Displays we put up in stores were basic countertop.

Because this campaign was at holiday time, it was hard to measure exact results of the promo, but overall, they were excellent. We had a lot of coupon redemption and positive retail feedback.

QUESTION: How are your most recent marketing campaigns doing?

WIRT: Our most recent program was around the launch of two products in March -- the M130 and M515; both are color products.

The theme around this promotion was the 65,000 colors of spring; you can get 65,000 colors on these products. We ran TV ads, Web- based ads in multi-format, large size, key words, PR, co-op merchandizing and product reviews. As a result, our share in the retail channel went up by 48 percent over an eight-week period. Meanwhile, our competitorsí share went down during the same period.

QUESTION: Can you recall one of the most cost-effective campaigns you ran for a Palm product and why it worked?

WIRT: One example Ė and this is not a one-shot deal -- is direct email. One advantage we have [in doing] these kinds of campaigns is that a lot of people register their products with us. We have an excellent database and therefore [direct email] is an extremely cost-effective vehicle for us.

Another thing we did recently was program called ĎPalm Pays Back.í It was a loyalty program. We encourage our installed base to refer a friend to purchase a Palm product. If they do, then the referral gets a rebate at Palm stores online.

QUESTION: Can you offer some best practices for the creation of low-cost campaigns?

WIRT: There are three secrets: targeting, targeting and targeting. You have to understand who are the most likely prospects. The Web is much more inexpensive and effective for targeting, but itís not just about the Web. Email, specialized publications and direct mail with the right list are also very cost-effective. TV can be, if you hone in on an interest group.

It really depends on the target of your message. Know who is right target for each message, and make sure your message is relevant. I know this is all basic but you have to remember it before doing anything.

QUESTION: What do you use to measure the success of your partnerships?

WIRT: Iíd like to look at what we are doing for the sponsorship of the PGA tour. One thing we do is to have about 20 events at the pavilions. When you come in, you can rent/borrow a Palm I705. When you are on the course, you can do leader boards, you can follow the players and the stats, and you can get alerts. There are all kinds of information to access while standing greenside.

Palm also helped develop the scoring system. Those scores you see on the board come from Palm handhelds. There are scorers who walk around to keep score and to send information to a truck. From there, those scores run on the leader board. When players finish a round, a printout of scores is recorded on the Palm. Basically, if the Palms donít work, the Tour doesnít run. We also provide I705s for players to access information while they are on the road.

In this partnership, or any, we look at targeted exposure. We also try and generate some quantifiable results. People at the pavilions receive coupons for discounts at Palm stores. We can measure sales and redemptions as well as how many people check out our products at the pavilion. As we get into our third year, we can see more people visited the pavilion, redeemed a coupon and used products. People who attend the PGA tour are a really good match for Palm.

We always try to look for targeting as a way to measure the success of partnership. We have one with the SF Giants. We added some sales days at the ballpark where we can set up tables at club level and [near] the better seats. We provide coupons and demos there, too. We also do special mailings to season-ticket holders.

QUESTION: Have there been any partnerships that did not work out as planned, and why?

WIRT: It was a Web deal we did last year, though I wonít name the company.

The Web can be a great targeting vehicle, but for this one, it was more a gross impression deal. The results were barely measurable. Quite simply, if you donít have a target and you donít deliver a relevant message, it wonít work. Itís possible to have a partnership with huge exposure but low results. This, of course, is not desirable.

QUESTION: Everyone seems to be waiting for the ad market to come back. What are some of the leading indicators you look for and, perhaps, what should others be keeping an eye on?

WIRT: Pricing is one of the indicators. As an example, we looked to the TV market for our demographic, and we saw the lowest rates in a long time over Christmas. Since then, rates are going up.

You have to be very specific in terms of what has come back and what it has come back from. I donít see that tech companies drive it. More targeted media is subject to the recovery of relevant advertisers. Honestly, pricing in general should be watched.
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