Can you hear me now? Opportunity knocks for mobile marketing at World Cup.

With all eyes in South Africa for the World Cup, it’s a goldmine for marketing opportunities. The country, with over 39 million mobile phone subscribers representing 80% of the population, is now being swarmed by 373,000 more foreign visitors and their cell phones, creating a “perfect storm” for mobile marketing. Which makes me wonder, why wouldn’t content providers take advantage of such a golden opportunity?

Take News24.com as an example.

News24 is the most popular news Website in South Africa reaching over 2.7 million users every month. By most accounts, News24 has successfully leveraged digital media to reach South Africans and other African audiences. Catering to the popularity of mobile devices in the region, News24 lets users easily download its mobile news service from their Website or by sending a text. Almost 200,000 users every month get their news from the company’s mobile site m.24.com. The company has very active Twitter account that helps push breaking news and updates. News24 also has a YouTube channel for video interviews and features, and a Facebook page to engage its audience. Compared to other local online news providers Mail and Guardian Online and IOL, News24 has done a channels job in leveraging digital media and mobile channels to reach readers and strengthen its market lead.

However, News24 is missing the biggest opportunity it has to expand its reach and position itself as Africa’s premier online news resource during the World Cup.

News provider behemoth CNN.com is answering the mobile marketing opportunity during the World Cup and partnering with Foursquare to reach both the local South Africans and the visitors traveling for the games. News24, with more local resources and intimate knowledge of the region, should have been able to leverage location-based social media to market its brand and broaden its audience reach. With News24’s relationships with partners and advertisers that include restaurants, bars and stores around World Cup venues, they would have been able to pull off a mobile marketing campaign that would dwarf CNN’s. Although they were not an official sponsor of the event, a mobile marketing campaign tied to the World Cup would have introduced News24 to a broader audience and help strengthen audience loyalty. Now, they can only watch as CNN infringes on their home turf.

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