MMA Forum Singapore Recap: The Shift from “Why Mobile to How Mobile?”
By Avtansh Sharma-Optism Team, May 4, 2012
MMA (Mobile Marketing Association) Asia Forum unfolded on April 23-25 in Singapore. Thanks to the efforts by the MMA, the increasing presence of media agencies and brands in this forum clearly indicates their necessity and importance to harness mobile as an effective channel to reach the consumers in the region. The presentations, discussions and conversations over these 3 days highlighted how the development of the mobile marketing and advertising industry is contingent on a deeper understanding of tech-equipped digitally-aware consumers, who increasingly shape the new emerging media.
The tone and direction was set right in the beginning during the first panel discussion by Nick Seckold, Head of Digital, Mindshare APAC, when he mentioned that the question is not anymore “Why Mobile” but “How Mobile.” This was echoed throughout the forum by various speakers, panelists and in general conversations during the breaks. This is a major milestone and turning point for the mobile marketing community at large! After all, the figures speak for themselves. Marketers can no longer put mobile on back burner as smartphone sales surpassed the number of PCs sold in 2011. Hand held mobile devices will dwarf the number of PCs in a couple of years. With the number of iPhones alone sold per minute across the globe being more than the number of babies born per minute, the change is taking place at a pace far greater than humans increasing their foot print on the earth!
And the direction on “How Mobile?” was so aptly given by none other than the MMA APAC Chairman Barney Loehnis who heads Digital for Ogilvy & Mather in APAC. Barney reminded us that while thinking “mobile”, the focus has to remain on consumer experience and not on placement of mobile as media. Brands and advertisers look for engagement, interaction and convergence, and mobile as a channel is capable of creating engagement at every point in the purchase funnel. However, there is a need to “re-imagine mobile” – creatively and otherwise. With mobile, the marketers need to target moments, moods, mindsets and milliseconds as opposed to socio-demographic segments at certain times. As per Barney, the need is to CAPTURE the Mobile Moments and Movements of the consumers to effectively TOUCH them and go beyond just Conversation to Conversions. And CAPTURE as per Barney means;
C – Contextual
A – Always On
P – Placely
T – Timely
U – Useful
R – Remarkable
E – Effortful
Barney presented some very interesting case studies and use cases around mobile and ended his keynote by highlighting that because people are ready to take decisions on the go, the transactional nature of mobile is transformative. As per Barney, mobile marketing is also about building consumer insights and a providing a long-term platform for loyalty. A word of caution to the brands from Barney about Mobile display ads – NEVER do mobile display ads unless your landing page is mobile optimized and actionable. According Google, more than 70% sites are not optimized for mobile!
Ashutosh Srivastav, CEO, Mindshare Asia reiterated the same thought about the role of mobile at every stage of the consumer journey mentioning that mobile is an always on performance based platform adding interactivity to static media. He reminded the audience to look at mobile as a central touch point of integrated communication in the media mix and not as a separate platform.
This central position occupied by mobile was reinforced by Michael Bayle, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Mobile, ESPN, who called mobile the bridge that connected fans to all media.
Rahul Welde, Vice President, Media Unilever for Asia, Africa, Middle-East & Turkey in the concluding panel discussion for the Forum aptly stated, “For mobile media to take off effectively, the need is to create Aha moments for the consumers on mobile”. Welde believes that mobile is still new to tens of thousands of marketers, the need is to build the capability and awareness in the industry to create the much needed Aha moments on mobile.
As for SMS, the view that reverberated through the forum is that despite the advent of smartphones this channel still remains the most effective way to engage the masses on mobile. SMS is great for Call to Actions and thus to turbo-charge the campaigns. It is the simplest and the most widely used channel by consumers on mobile who otherwise are trying to keep abreast and are constantly mired in the tumble of technology.
Sadly we are not at the end of push messaging. Conversations take thought, but push just takes money. More emphasis needs to be placed on effectively engaging the consumer. That’s where permission and preference based contextual conversations come in to play.