mobiThinking guide to mobile agencies: Sponge

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Sponge: in brief

Type of agency: full service.
Founded: 2002.
Acquisitions: none.
Main offices: London, UK (HQ); Lagos, Nigeria.
Affiliate offices in Cologne, Copenhagen, Madrid and Paris.
Employees: 24.
Ownership: privately held.
Profile submitted by: Alex Meisl, Chairman, Sponge
Contact details: alex.meisl (at) spongegroup.com.
Web: spongegroup.com; Mobile Web: spongegroup.mobi.
Recent news:
• Sept 2009 – Sponge formed the Mobile One Alliance with other independent agencies Mobile Dreams Factory and CLANMO.
Details: mobileonealliance.com; mobileonealliance.mobi.
• Oct 2010 – launch of Sponge in Nigeria.
• Launch of new consultancy division.
Profile first published: July 2010.

Sponge: in depth

1) Global annual revenue from mobile: Band D $5m-10m.
2) Is the mobile business profitable? Yes.
3) How is the company funded? privately held, with over 70% owned by Alex Meisl (chairman) and Dan Parker (CEO).
4) Proportion of business related to mobile: 100%.
5) Business split: mobile strategy 30%; creative 20%; and technical development and implementation 50%.
6) Key mobile activities: mobile messaging, mobile Web and mobile apps represent around 75% of the business.
7) Specialties/expertise:
• Sponge’s in-depth knowledge of the mobile consumer and experience in running almost every kind of mobile solution since forming the agency in 2002 is our biggest strength. This gives us a significant understanding of how consumers interact with the 0 – 9 keypad hence our belief that mobile services are more about psychology than technology.
• One of our core strengths is helping brands, agencies and corporate clients successfully embrace the mobile medium while demonstrating strong ROI.
• Our fully rounded, solutions-led service and insight, combined with quality account and project management, robust systems and long-term client relationships makes us a strong partner.
8) Main competitors: digital agencies, MIG.
9) Type of clients/industries: brands, media groups, agencies, corporates, financial services and retailers.
10) Client base: circa 75 clients including AutoTrader, Avis, Coca-Cola, Dorothy Perkins, Etisalat, Hearst Publishing, McDonald’s and Unilever.
11) Geographical coverage (with % of revenues): UK (70%), Nigeria (20%), Germany (5%) and Spain (5%).
12) Works most closely with (apart from clients): Sponge is the preferred supplier of mobile services to about 15 agencies.
13) Best work to date:
• Walkers Crisps: Win an iPod – Europe’s largest on-pack campaign with 17m entries (7% of the UK population took part).
Coca-Cola: Gimme Credit – the brand’s most successful campaign in 2009 and repeated in 2010 • see case study.
AutoTrader.mobi – which has two million searches for cars per month • see case study.
14) Industry Awards: to date, Sponge has been party to more than 30 campaigns that have won awards, including…
ISP Awards 2010 for Coca-Cola: Gimme Credit • see news.
AOP Awards 2010 Best Use of Mobile Award for AutoTrader.mobi • see news.
Cannes Lions 2007 Bronze and other awards (partner: Glue) for Royal Navy: Get The Message • see case study.
• ISP Awards 2006 for Walkers: Win an iPod and other campaigns (partner: The Big Kick) • see news.
• D&AD Awards 2008 for Audi R8 (partner: BBH).
15) How do you sell mobile to your clients? The immediacy of the mobile device gives credence to the concept of “brand to hand”. Consumers spend more time on their mobiles than reading newspapers. Mobile has become a necessary part of the communications mix helping brands to get closer to their customers, building dialogues, increasing interaction, while delivering a strong ROI.
16) What return on investment should clients expect from mobile? Significant, but impossible to define in a pithy one liner!
17) Membership of industry bodies/associations:
Mobile Marketing Association (MMA)
18) What needs to happen to accelerate mobile over the next five years? The ability to share more compelling case studies, the mobilization of Websites, increased support from some of the mobile operators, and a clear set of metrics that are comprehensible to people outside the mobile business.
19) In 2015, mobile will be… a key method to maintain a dialogue with consumers and an accepted part of the marketing communications strategy of enlightened companies.

• Next agency profile: Ogilvy & Mather
• All profiled agencies: Guide home
• Previous agency profile: Mobilera

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