Mobile Marketing and Minors: New Tools, Time-Tested Best Practices Ensure Success

Minors and mobile phones seem the perfect mix. But while kids are more adept at manipulating devices than their parents, adults are still responsible for their safety and smart usage. This week, two events addressed issues of mobile technology, marketing, and child safety.

These endeavors prove, hopefully to the relief of Mom and Dad, that the marketing industry shares their concerns. It also should soothe individual marketers who are wary about offending consumers: They have safety tools and best practices that they can use to create marketing campaigns that take the privacy of minors very seriously.

In Illinois, which  has rigorous laws protecting the privacy of children’s contact information, CTIA-The Wireless Association and The Wireless Foundation brought together child safety advocates, policymakers and industry experts to talk about safe, responsible cell phone usage, particularly online mobile use, among youngsters. The confab reiterated the “Be Smart” wireless safety campaign, whose website offers useful tips like parental control features and filters that are offered by CTIA’s members; lesson plans for students in grades 6 through 12; and industry-wide content guidelines and best practices. “The wireless industry believes it has a responsibility to educate parents and kids on the numerous tools and information that it offers to help create a safe online wireless environment,” said Steve Largent, president of The Wireless Foundation and president and CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association.

Meanwhile, across the country the California-based eAgency Mobile Solutions announced it added a new application and browser blocking feature to its My Mobile Watchdog service, which will enable parents to control children’s use of applications and Web sites from their wireless devices, including Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and instant messaging. “Kids consider their phones to be a 24/7 link to friends and the outside world, so it’s understandable that so many parents have asked for this feature,” said Robert Lotter, CEO of eAgency Mobile Solutions.

Mobile marketing to children raises the same concerns as email and online marketing did several years ago. But the same best practices that arose from the latter two platforms are applicable to the newest medium. These practices, alongside specific safety and privacy tools now available, will help mobile become the best way to reach young consumers while respecting parents’ concerns.

Next week, I’m going to go through resources like the Be Smart site and past white papers and studies, to point out the most important things of which marketers need to be aware when creating mobile campaigns geared to minors. But I’d like to hear from readers: What are the biggest concerns you hear from parents? What’s the number one suggestion you would offer fellow marketers? Where can our industry make improvements?