Monday, 29 October 2007

Yahoo! 'Think Big' mobile marketing conference 2007 - London - summary of presentations and key thoughts

Last Monday I attended the Yahoo! ‘Think Big’ Mobile Marketing Conference 2007 in London.

A wide variety of interesting speakers presented. A number of the presentations can be accessed on the above link and my interpretation of the key thoughts are below:

The opportunity

91% of users keep their mobile phone within a metre of them at all times. If this can be harnessed then mobile has the potential to usurp the computer as the primary point of access to the internet and this is a massive opportunity for advertisers.

Globally more people can access internet via a phone then via a PC, in India this year there will be 90 million new mobile connections and 42 billion texts were sent in the UK last year. Every second in the world 36 mobiles are sold and 4 children are born!

However in 2006, mobile ad revenue worldwide was (just) $871m - the consensus was that developments in technology and software means this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Where are we now

Mobile has been "hyped, over-hyped and then hyped again", but it's time is starting to arrive.
Technology barriers (sheer variety of different handsets) and different operator platforms have made it difficult to get mobile projects off of the ground, but the early days of WWW were harder to deal with.

SMS has been highly successful, but consumers have been slower to experiment with other mobile offerings (such as MMS and WAP).

Mobile TV is streamed over 3G, but whilst 3G rates are improving you still need 2 megs per second for good viewing experience. Devices and screen quality are also improving eg N95, but penetration is still relatively low. Things are improving though - barcode redemption is getting easier and “Shop scan save” mobile barcode redemption launched in summer 2007. This system gives massive basket data and has had high uptake.

Mobile Search through Google, Yahoo! One Search etc has the technology, but not the volumes currently. Final model is yet to be seen (will it be permanently integrated into an operators portal or will it be a standalone mobi site)? Different style of searching seen - taxi, restaurant, pizza vs credit card, car insurance, cheap flights.

Some operator plans in the UK still charge by the megabit and until flat rate subscription exists across the board cost of use will remain a barrier to many - though again this situation is improving.

Creative issues

Small screen size can hamper creative options and handsets render in different ways. To make a mobile campaign work well it should be made up of bespoke content, content designed for PC does not always work well on mobile, especially if it's transcoded. (Transcoding enables sites to be viewed on mobile but doesn’t give a particularly good experience.)

Sites still not particularly good at SEO, so don't always show well on mobile Search. Difficult to find sites compared to finding them on internet on PC.

Standard for mobile TV in the EU will be DVB-H, however not fully live until 2012 because of bandwidth issues. Pre-roll and post-roll advertising still finding some success, but won't take off properly until mobile TV launches on DVB-H.

The future

Short form video will be the way forward for TV content and new ad formats like 6 second ads will become commonplace - all mobile video content will be ad funded.

Mobile will be the device that people use to social network. eg Bebo have agreed a deal with Orange, Facebook are launching new mobile apps and Jaiku / Twitter are getting a lot of coverage. Mobile phone is highly personal, similar relationship to the relationship that a user has with a social network site. There are also some very interesting location based / GPS applications that can be developed too - eg the Ima Hima mobile community in Japan which enables you to find all your friends currently within 100 metres of you!

Mobile Search will continue to grow and will develop as the number of people using the mobile internet increases. David Pattison from i-Level repeated a Google claim that “Google ad revenues will eventually be higher from mobile than they are from online.”

Mobile is the future of Response - "People don't walk around with a big pair of scissors to cut out coupons, they do walk around with a mobile phone". Local search, text payments, HIP code (Hypertext in paper), smart codes on posters (allowing poster effectiveness to be measured), local Affiliates (local, real-time Kelkoo?) -all of these can be facilitated by a mobile phone.

Other applications will be developed - mobile games, mobile music etc are still in their infancy but could also become important for mobile as a medium.

Devices will continue to improve. Screens, rendering rates, memory capacity and through NFC , mobile phones will replace barcodes as a redemption and ID device (phone will become Oyster card, Payment card, Loyalty card and Access device all rolled into one!)

In my view the key starting point is for the term 'mobile advertising' to be defined more clearly. When people talk about 'mobile' do they mean Bluetooth or SMS or pre-rolls or MMS or a mobile site or Mobile Search or display ads? If more rigour is applied to the definition it will help people to see the opportunities more clearly. The barriers to wider acceptance of the medium can then start to be broken down one at a time. No-one knows where mobile will end up, but there is a general industry acceptance that it's going to be big.

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