What is the Future of Mobile? Well from what mobiThinking heard at the conference of the same name in London yesterday, it sounds like it should be permission-led, whatever it is.
An interesting critique of the bustling world where location-based services and social networking meet on the mobile, by serial entrepreneur Andrew Scott, was underlined by his belief that successful mobile web has to be opt-in.
Location-based services have come a long way from the original vision of stores and coffee shops randomly texting you with offers as you walk past the window. Fortunately this Orwellian future of “Death by Starbucks”, as Scott refers to it, has not materialized (yet).
What’s more, Scott predicts a time when consumers will opt-in once to receive relevant information from different mobile service providers and this opt-in-at-a-current-location data will be standard-based and available cheaply to providers.
And it appears that the future of social networking won’t rely on customers handing over their contact list every time they sign up. Scott believes: “Spamming people’s friends doesn’t work any more.”
Thank the Lord.
Scott isn’t any casual observer. He’s the CEO of Rummble – a travel-oriented, peer-generated site that helps consumers to find relevant information about people, places and events; at home or on the move. Hopefully Scott speaks for his peers in the LBS/social networking space. See: rummble.com/wap
Next, over to the ad man:
“The future of mobile marketing will be permission-based marketing. Why? Because every time I ask anyone in the business if they are prepared to accept adverts on their phone, they say ‘no’,” said OgilvyOne Worldwide, senior consultant, Jonathan MacDonald.
MacDonald wants to destroy the belief that mobile consumers have to tolerate adverts they’re not interested in. Tolerance is defined as: “A fair, objective and permissive attitude towards opinions and practices that differ from one’s own”. MacDonald wants to abolish tolerance.
He believes mobile marketers should abide by the three Ps: privacy, permission and preference. See his presentation here .
Last, but certainly not least, we come to author and consultant Tomi Ahonen. Fresh from writing his latest book, ‘The 7th Mass Media’, and a new research paper – Ahonen provided a mine of useful statistics and insights.
Take these, for example. The ten most advanced mobile countries (taking into account networks, handsets, customers and services): 1 Japan (95%); 2 South Korea (91%); 3 Italy (86%); 4 Austria (84%); 5 UK (82%); 6 Taiwan (81%); 7 Finland (79%); 8 Israel (78%); 9 Ireland (76%); 10 Sweden (75%). Ahonen says 10 percentage points equates to one year of delay, so Sweden is two years behind Japan. So where is the USA? Actually the USA came equal 24th with Greece at 62% – more than three years behind Japan.
That interesting discussion point steered me away from my permission theme. Ahonen’s favorite case studies, however show us several great mobile marketing examples that use permission-based marketing and alternatives to the advertising model: two from the fifth most advanced mobile country (also where the conference was held), and three from the first:
Blyk is the king of mobile opt-in. It offers free mobile – 43 minutes of free calls and 217 free texts per month – in return for watching six ads per day. But these are “super-personalized (customers feel they are more content than ads)”. Blyk started in the UK last year and is expanding into the Netherlands, France, Germany and Spain. It’s just for 16-24 year olds, by invitation only. It has over 200,000 subscribers. The average response rate from to adverts – which include Coca Cola, Adidas, L'Oreal and MasterCard – is 30 percent.
UK flirting service Flirtomatic balances income from personalization with advertising income. This includes branded sponsorship, i.e. Loreal Lip Gloss sponsored the "Big Wet Kiss". Flirtomatics’ one million customers – half on mobile – spent £0.8 million / $1.2 million on virtual roses last year.
Japanese snack brand, Tohato, launched 2 new snacks: Habanero, and Satan Jorquia. Fans of each flavor were invited to fight it out in a massive multiplayer battle accessed by mobile phone, called the World's Worst War . Access to the battle was by scanning a 2D code on the bag or through invitation (recruiting friends, earned promotion in the army). Ahonen said the game lasted for six months and, at its peak, had 100,000 participants per day.
Japan Asahi TV’s Hoshi-Ichi Maniac was a blend of the TV quiz show format, with the audience participation of a reality TV show. All contestants entered by mobile phone. Huge numbers of entrants were whittled down by eliminating those who got answers wrong until the final winner was found.
The Ez My Styling service from Japan’s KDDI network allows customers to send in a picture, then see on their phone what they look like in different hairdos and fashion items. If they like them, they can click though to participating retailers / hairdressers to purchase.