Information Technology Strategy: Class 8 – Mobile

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Last night we started covering the mobile landscape. My goal was to cover the basics but we quickly got into the rock-n-roll. First, let’s talk about off-deck vs. on-deck. In a nutshell, on-deck is the AOL experience for mobile. Think Motorola Razor. The official definition is: A browseable portal of links to content, pre-configured usually by the network operator, and set as the default home page to the phone’s browser. Off-deck is exactly what you’d think it is. It’s the web; free and open. Think iPhone. Why in the world would I be talking to my class about on-deck? Because there are 225 million people on the older model compared to 55 million people on the smartphone. (This is the part where you really need to know your target market.) Last year the international smart phone market grew by 110% and in the US of A it increased 148%! Not bad in a down economy but cell phones and not mobile computers still rule the world.

The on-deck world is comprised of 4 spheres.

  • Product/service – This group is made up of brands, content owners and interactive agencies. Basically, they have content they want to share with their customers and the agency is going to help them.
  • Application – This sphere is populated business that create mobile applications.
  • Connection – These are the aggregators and carriers; the people that collect is and bundle it and the people that deliver it.
  • Media & Retail – Brick and mortar or online stores.

This has been the traditional on-deck model for some time and it’s best to think of the standard SMS campaign. “Text this word to this 5 or 6 digit number and we’ll send you SMS updates until you eyes bleed!”. (A good overview of short codes/international short codes can be found here.) Also, an update to this 4 sphere model can be found here. To deliver the SMS messages you need to get a common short code (CSC) from the CSCA.  We also then talked about the importance search based mobile advertising. By 2013, 73% of mobile advertising is expected to be search-based due to the abysmal performance of display ads on mobile sites which are enjoying a .30% click through! (The numbers are much better for ads in apps but we’ll get to that later.)

Then we moved to off-deck. Off-deck is mobile sites, mobile apps (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Nokia, etc . . .) and mobile social networks such as Brightkite and Twitter. (Twitter is now being called a real time news source but don’t underestimate how much of Twitter’s usage is driven by mobile users.) Services like Foursquare and Gowalla also fit nicely into the off-deck realm. We the covered the concept of location as it relates to mobile marketing and highlighted the fact that location based awareness is built into the mobile Safari browser and Google’s Android OS. We reviewed Master Cards Priceless Picks app (video below) as being one example of location based apps. It’s important to remember that long-term location based services need to enhance the experience of the venue AND that soon customers will not be looking location. They’ll be looking for product/service. From there we discussed the in-app advertising the 50% clickthrough that many businesses have enjoyed! (Don’t get too excited. When banner ads first came out the clickthrough rate was also 50% and now you’re lucky if you can get 1%. If you get 2% they throw a party!). We talked briefly about the freemium model (think Pandora) and I believe this is the future. I also forced them to watch a demo of Google Maps Navigation. (Like watching really geeky grass grow.) We then reviewed the concept of conduit marketing.

As most of you know, mobile has been the primary medium in other countries for some time and because of this we talked about lessons learned.

  • Video content should mobile specific – Don’t repurpose video shot for TV. It’s too small for the mobile device and looks awful. I will say that content that is primarily screenplay driven, such as Kevin Smith work well on a mobile device but the latest Star Trek movie is not a good fit for the device (IMHO).
  • Video & Photo (UGC) are essential – Allow users to create content and “add” them to your business via social mechanisms. Most have camera (still & video).
  • Unlimited plans = growth – Many places in the world are not on unlimited plans. Australia has 60% iPhone penetration but they’ve got no unlimited plans. This will hinder adoption of some of the deeper/data rich experiences.
  • It makes calls also! – Don’t forget that the device is also a phone. Best example I’ve seen for this on an iPhone was an ad that when pressed called the appropriate business representative.
  • Things to consider – What culture(s) are you targeting? What kind of privacy concerns do they have? What is their level of sophistication?
  • Task focused – Mobile devices are great at helping users complete a task. Find the restaurant. When does the movie start? As of now, people do not surf for hours on end using their mobile device.

After that we talked about how to get started.

  1. Make sure your strategy is market driven. Please sell something somebody wants.
  2. Tools like Distimo, Motally, Tap Metrics to see what people are doing/buying
  3. Decide if your market is on-deck or off-deck. Eventually the belief is that the majority will be on a smartphone. You know what they say about assumptions . . .
  4. Select a team mobile team that is familiar with your vertical. This can be a plus (familiarity) or a negative (“Same old. Same old.”)
  5. You need to start early on-deck solutions can take up to three months to get approved by the carrier! Just for SMS-based based strategies.
  6. Take a holistic approach. Drive traffic to your mobile campaign using other mediums such as online, print, radio & television.

A post focusing on how to mobilize your brand can be found here. Lastly we talked about some of the best practices for on-deck campaigns (from the MMA)

  • Opt-in – People must opt-in to receive SMS/MMS messages.
  • Free To End User (FTEU) – The business and the carrier have a deal to deliver the offerings at no charge to the end user.
  • Standard Rate – The user must acknowledge that they will be charged for the SMS messages they receive.
  • Premium Service – The user must acknowledge that they will be charged for the MMS messages they receive.
  • Opt-out – As a business, when someone sense you any of the following messages you must remove them from the send list – STOP, END, CANCEL, UNSUBSCRIBE or QUIT.
  • Location Based Privacy – You must ask for the users permission to know where they are.

The master list of best practices can be found here.

Next class, I’m having Kendell Gracey & Daniel Staley of Harris, Karstaedt, Jamison & Powers, P.C. come in and talk about copy right as it relates to the online world. I gave my students the incredibly arduous research task of watching RiP: A Remix Manifesto on Hulu prior to the class. I know. I know. Very tough work . . .

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I'm an Associate Teaching Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I'm currently focused on artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, biking, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive and/or surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and the art that tattooing has evolved into.

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