IWNY – Mobile Marketing Forum Keynotes

For the second day of Internet Week NY, I spent my morning away from the events at the headquarters to visit the Mobile Marketing Association’s Mobile Marketing Forum 2010 at the Waldorf-Astoria.  The forum is a two day event, although I only had the chance to attend the majority of the first day.  I was surrounded by laptops and smart phones, so I expect to be able to keep up with events tomorrow by following the #MMAF2010 hash tag.

The welcoming comments and keynotes were introduced by Thom Kennon, the VP of Strategy at Wunderman.  He described the gathered forum as a collection of “post-digital” individuals.  Post-digital, he explained, meant that we were beyond just advertising as marketers; we are driven to engage.  Any channel that we don’t measure is wasted.  Mobile marketing is critical to the post-digital marketer, because nothing is more direct, more embedded, and more personnel than mobile.

Michael Becker, the Managing Director of Mobile Marketing Association, North America, then introduced the featured keynote speaker, Soledad O’Brien, an anchor and special correspondent at CNN.  While she isn’t a marketer, she understands how marketers operate.  It’s her job to tell stories, reach out to people and build a virtuous circle of communication.  She described the vital nature of mobile technology with a detailed story of her time covering the earthquake in Haiti.  With the destruction of the Haitian infrastructure, it was only through mobile channels (cell services, Twitter, etc.) that reporters could share stories of the aftermath and parents could reach children trapped on the island.  On a lighter and slightly less frenetic note, she also noted the benefits of mobile connectivity to a parent who want to work while still watching one’s child dressed as a tree in the school play.

It’s critical, for a brand and for a news network, to deliver content that the recipient trusts and with which they want to engage.  Context, community, and communication all knit together, according to Thom’s summary of Soledad’s keynote.  The next speaker was Mike Steib, a director of emerging platforms at Google, speaking on “The Future of Mobile: Five Trends that Matter Most”.  The trends he discussed are the following.

  1. Devices are diverging but behavior is converging.
  2. Openness will win.
  3. The browser will be the killer app..
  4. Location is critical.
  5. Mobile ads must scale to meet demand.

The change in consumers’ use of mobile search (500% growth from 2008-2010) is due in large part to an increasing ability to search in a full-featured environment.  Full browser mobile search behavior (e.g., on a smart phone) is similar to full browser desktop search.  There are also situations where a consumer would only use mobile search, when queries are time-sensitive and when they are unlikely to remember or care to search later (what Mike called the “our bet” phenomenon.  He also discussed the importance of location and local queries to mobile search and the options of how advertisers and marketers can reach consumers who are seeking local information.

John Zehr, senior vice president and general manager of ESPN Mobile, discussed the evolution of computing (from work-driven devices to content-driven devices) and the expansion of mobile data.  Mobile devices are becoming the “first screen”, that is, the first one that viewers look to in the morning, when they need information on the spot, etc.  Mobile devices are also adding not just new content, but also new context, creating opportunities for online viewing that previously didn’t exist (e.g., on the train, at dinner at a restaurant, etc.)  He reinforced the necessity of a seamless advertisement experience, where mobile ads appear to the consumer as content rather than as a distraction.

Mobile devices offer an opportunity for structured user-generated content.  The can capture content as well as they can serve it.  Just as they can serve data in new contexts, they can generate data in new settings.  For example, ESPN is unlikely to broadcast or track Little League games, but it can allow consumers to upload video, play by play, or scores to a server and can leverage this information in tracking the full career of a player.

After John’s comments, there was a break for networking and then the session reconvened for separate tracks (customer acquisition and brand building.)  A re-cap of the brand building track will follow in another post.

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