IAB Mobile Part Two, The Roosevelt Hotel, New York
July 13, 2009
I'll bet you're wondering, "Wait! Kelly! What happened in the afternoon portion of IAB Mobile? " I know, I know, I sort of put a break in there. But really, I think you're a lot like me, and there is only so much conference coverage I can read - which is why I broke it up with the delicious Flatiron Chefs piece. And now. The moment you've all been waiting for... when Dancing Dufon left the stage, who was there to pick up the pieces?
I wanted someone to get up on stage and make me feel like an inchworm for knocking BlackBerry so much. I'm a BlackBerry owner, and I gripe. All the time. So I'm waiting for the day when a Blackberry developer jumps on stage and says "Instead of weird non-human-speak menu items, we now make it easy and fun to use your own phone!" I mean -- have you ever tried to add people to BB Messenger? Holy crud. And no, I don't need pointers, I've exercised all options. It's more painful than walking barefoot through a field of braces.
I was chortling at the name "Planet of the Apps: Is This the Future of Mobile Advertising?" The moderator was the sparky Chad Stoller, Executive Director of Emerging Platform Strategy, Organic. After but a few seconds I realized this was about to be a mobile app commercial.
Ken Willner, CEO, Zumobi, a mobile app network, was up first, declaring his belief that "superphones" (no need to put your cape on in a phone booth, you ARE a phone booth!) like the Palm Pre, iPhone, iPod touch, and Android are the next media opportunity. The audience lobbed a success metrics question at Willner (shocker), to which he answered, "It's less of a [transient] measurement... We tell our partners about getting to a level of engagement - how much time a user spends with the app. We're more in tune to a per-user metric than a per-impression metric."
That makes a ton of sense. Remember Web pages and the hits vs. pageviews smackdown? It's just like that - as experiences become richer regardless of the medium, it makes sense that time spent is more important than just showing up. Sort of like if I call you and you answer the phone but neither of us says a word, does the call count?
Talk turned to what the panelists (including Bill Guild of Platform-A and Michael Lebowitz, Founder and CEO of Big Spaceship) thought the future of mobile would be. Lebowitz is a man after my own heart. I hated the "What's your 5 year plan" questions because I don't like absence of spontaneity and inability to move with change. "I don't predict the future," he clipped, and then conceded; "...location is available and massively underused. And where it is used, it's done in a very simple way." By simple, it could be inferred he didn't necessarily mean "easy to use."
The panel that closed out the day was the one that I thought would give me the opportunity to thumb my nose at iPhone users and snort. It wasn't. Mark Himmelsbach, VP, Director, Activation, PHD, a division of Omnicon; Steve Siegel, Mobile Solution Specialist, Microsoft Advertising; Richard Ting, VP and Executive Creative Director, Mobile and emerging Platforms, R/GA; and Jeff Arbour, SVP, North America, The Hyperfactory; were kept in line by Derek Handley, Co-founder & CEO, The Hyperfactory (hey now... your boss can't moderate you!)
Lebowitz took the stage to show off the UrbanDaddy iPhone app (Lexus is involved as well). I was rolling my eyes and ready to hate it because every UrbanDaddy mailing I've gotten is obviously not only not targeted to me (no matter how un-girlie I think I am), but it's also targeting the type of dude I want to punch in the tibia. But the app was really clever. Based on criteria you select like who you're with (my ex), how lubed you are (we're drunk), and what you're u p to (just wanna hook up), the app gives you bar/lounge/restaurant recommendations. It was pretty slick. Hmph. Ting took the stage and made me want to exercise and get a flippin iPhone. He demo'd the Nike Women Training Camp iPhone app. Not only is it cute and colorful, but if you really did get your little friends to sign up, the competition piece would be motivating (even to the unmotivatable like me). The point is, as I was watching the demo I was smiling. When I watch a BlackBerry simulator, I don't smile. I think "why can't I get rounded edges, adorable avatars, smooth animation, and easy connection/joinage with my pals?" App aside, the Web site is an easy transition -- consistent, just as adorable, and, get ready... easy.
I crossed my fingers as Jeff Arbour approached the podium and crushed my feelings with his first statement of intention. That instead of showing off glossy apps, because "too much has been made of things like apps," he was going to show off the BlackBerry Web site. And not only that, it was the "wired" Web site -- not the mobile version. The point? "Showing how creativity can be applied to the mobile Web space."
Maybe this was a case of working with whatcha got, because showcasing BB as a leader in consistent look and feel and dedicating their Web site to educating users about their BlackBerries not only isn't sexy, but it makes the BlackBerry sound even more complicated. The big takeaway though, that I think we can all agree on, is that your sites should be consistent in look and feel (and url). Your "wired" site shouldn't be a brand-new experience when mobile-accessed. AND, your mobile site shouldn't just be your wired site duplicated and crammed.
And finally, the panel unanimously agreed that when it comes to brands, simple and consistent is the way to go; you don't want to have www.toilettoys.com and m.toilettoys.mobledoble. More and more device owners just open up a browser and type in the brand url they know. They also agreed that the exception would be for special campaigns.
The cocktail party was sedate -- a lot of people opted to head out, including me, as I still had my point-and-shoot and it was taking HIDEOUS photos.
Hey! Next week is busy busy - events every night! So find your reading glasses.