As the conference wrapped for the day, the last several presentations looked at the future of the mobile marketplace and extensions to the mobile space. Networking effects play a key role in growing the mobile space, and despite the hype, it’s not all about apps and mobile web sites.
Key Trends in Consumer Adoption & Usage of the Mobile Internet in 2011
According to Evan Neufeld, VP of Marketing at Ground Truth, “there be monsters” still in the mobile marketplace:
1. Demos and devices will continue to be the great predictors of adoption and usage (devices are accelerants, but they will not change behavior fundamentally)
2. Device picture will get MORE not LESS fuzzy
3. Tri-modal content usage (application, web, SMS) will evolve
4. Old and new inhibitors of adoption will arise (battery life, connection speed, price and data plans)
He believes that certain trends are likely to be in effect in 2011:
1. 80/20 Rule of usage is in full effect
2. But the long tail is important across categories
3. Social networking drives mobile browsing
4. Some sites are better at engaging consumers than others
5. Navigation and discovery is still tricky (no consensus about publishers for naming conventions, 60% of sites do not have a mobile-optimized version)
6. Mobile never sleeps
A critical mass of consumers are now using data services, so despite the difficulties arising from fragmentation and difficulties in interfacing, mobile provides a unique opportunity to marketers.
Panel – The Mobile-Social Connection
Social networks are driving mobile usage, but mobile social experiences differ from those on desktops. The panel discussed why people are choosing mobile and what it brings to the table.
Maury Postal, Director of Strategy at Carrot Creative (moderator)
Paul Thenstedt, VP of Sales at NBC Universal Digital Media
Jeffrey Evans, CEO of TigerText
Casey Jones, VP of Music and Marketing at MocoSpace
Kevin Lilly, Mobile Director at Starcom USA
When Postal asked what defines a social experience, Jones offered that a phone is inherently a social experience and it offers a ubiquitous opportunity to communicate. Similarly, Lilly sees mobile social experiences as more pervasive than desktop social experiences because the phone is always in your pocket. Thenstedt and Evans both noted that branded mobile experiences need to add value, not just noise.
Brands often chase new technologies to get an advantage in the marketplace, but the question in the mobile marketplace is how appropriate are the tools for the brands? Thenstedt believes that brands must be where their users are, so they have to choose the right avenues. Evans added that this is precisely why brands need to be in the social space, where there is already a base of users, rather than spend a lot of money developing an application with which users will rarely interact.
Jones questions whether apps are just a short-term bridge to a more full mobile web experience. Postal disagreed and gushed about iOS (showing himself to be the least impartial moderator of the day.) Thenstedt agrees that the mobile web will be the winner, and if there is a killer app on iOS, that it will be Safari.
Postal asked the panel about privacy, and Lilly explained that people need to use common sense when sharing information. Marketers have to ensure that they offer value to consumers who share info and give them an opportunity to opt out. Evans added that privacy policies are extremely complicated and supported educating consumers about how to guard their information. The first step, as demonstrated by Facebook’s recent changes, is that privacy policies need to be more transparent, but this will only come when public pressure is applied.
FREE Branded Content: Mobile for the Mass Market
Jeff Sass, VP of Marketing and Chief Evangelist at Myxer recapped today’s buzzwords: location and apps. In regard to location-based services, there is still a while to go (only 11% of surveyed users checked into services.) As far as apps, the mobile pie is huge, but it’s still fragmented, and smartphones are still only 25% of the market.
A mass market alternative to apps is branded content like ringtones and wallpapers. This branded content has several advantages:
- Broad reach – smartphones & feature phones
- Lasting – downloaded content leads to many impressions
- Engaging – it’s fun and personal
- Shows brand affinity
- Starts the conversation
Serving this kind of content is beneficial to marketers too. When users download branded content, they are a captive audience for serving ads for those brands.