The Friday Interview: Donald Douglas, Return2Sender

15 Jun 2007

This week’s interviewee is Donald Douglas (pictured), managing director of Dublin firm Return2Sender, which helps brands like Guinness, Cadbury and Coca-Cola realise a mobile presence.

How does Return2Sender differ from mass mobile marketing firms pitching wallpaper and ringtones?

At the start all mobile service firms were doing a bit of everything from text messaging to alert services if your house alarm goes off up to premium services like voting.

We picked a niche in advertising and stuck to that. Our remit is the same today as it was five years ago: helping advertisers to reach and engage mobile consumers.

This developed from simple SMS to the mobile internet and videos and 80pc is now based on helping advertisers create a mobile presence.

Our niche has always been advertising and that has helped us stay honest.

How is Return2Sender funded?

We are funded totally through revenues. Our turnover this year will be in the region of €1m. We are also an export business. About 30pc of our overall business today is derived from the UK.

What’s the key differences between advertising online to advertising to mobile?

The essential difference between online and mobile is the fact that everyone carries a mobile phone with them at all times.

The opportunity from an advertiser’s perspective is that the mobile phone can link in to whatever advertising a major brand is doing already.

We worked this in quite nicely at the recent Bud Rising events. Budweiser was already spending on staff and point-of-sale at gigs but the fact that everyone in the audience carried mobile phones added a new dimension to interaction at concerts.

We also ran a promotion last summer with Coca-Cola and the interaction ran into the hundreds of thousands; this was much greater participation than what you get online.

Do you believe mobile offers more than a traditional web presence?

Yes and no. From a mobile perspective you don’t have all the richness of the internet but the reach of the mobile phone is broader.

Consumers are mobile, media is mobile, advertising is mobile. The mobile revolution is turning static media into active media; that’s something you can’t do with a PC alone.

There were more downloads of Crazy Frog in 2005 than actual iTunes downloads.

It is tough for people to get their heads around. The real sleeping giant in the advertising world today is the mobile phone.

What is holding mobile advertising back?

Mobile costs. People are really sensitive about the cost of their bills. That’s what’s keeping the mobile internet at bay.

When you eventually get true flat rate billing on mobile phones that’s when things will really get going for the mobile internet.

By John Kennedy

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