Red-Eying OMMA Mobile
On a plane heading east after yesterday's OMMA Mobile in Los Angeles, I was trying to do a quick download of all the things I had learned throughout the day as the rest of the US Airways flight slept. I used to be able to sleep on red-eye flights, but now it is just work time. I am sure as the days progress and I catch up on some sleep the takeaways will be more numerous and detailed. But there were some themes reiterated throughout the day that really stuck with me, even at 3 a.m. somewhere over the Rockies.
Brands are learning to love that mobile data. This theme was introduced by a tremendous keynote from Adidas' Andy Graham. For him, mobile isn't about the specific campaign. Adidas doesn't need more impressions. The real value in mobile for the company is the ongoing feedback loop of customer information that its miCoach app delivers. We heard this theme reiterated whenever a brand executive was on stage -- from Buick's Craig Bierley to Sony's Wendy Feldman. The information from interaction that mobile affords is invaluable and the real driver for them.
An ancillary theme throughout the day was thinking beyond specific campaigns. Graham, and later OMD/Airwave's Joao Machado and MS&L's Webster Lewin all pounded this point home. Individual campaigns can be bursts of messaging, but they have to rest within a longer-term mobile approach. I think it was Graham who put it very succinctly: If you have mobile campaigns running, and there is no CRM attached to it on the back end, then you aren't doing mobile.
Video, Video, Video. Again and again we heard about the quickly accelerating interest in video because of its branding effectiveness. John Hadl of Brand in Hand declared he is about to make a major commitment to video in 2011. Other marketers said that if they had a chance to put video in front of their customers instead of a banner, they would do what they could to get them to clip. There were several anecdotal mentions of very strong performance from video exposures. During a nicely detailed case study of PHD's rich media campaign for HBO's "True Blood" season premiere, Mobile Strategist Sal Candela told us that 7.9% of the people who received the auto-expanding ad unit in their apps opted to watch the trailer.
There was also a lot of discussion of the mobile Web vs. apps. While this debate is familiar, the grounds have shifted a bit. Instead of criticizing the app-centric approach for its limited reach and blindness to the feature phone majority, I hear much more concern over the cost of building and updating apps, as well as the discoverability problem. While HTML5 itself is not the most stable or "standard" platform, there is an expectation that it will be robust enough to support many of the functions now associated with apps, but with greater discoverability and easier updating. Healthy skepticism about a future dominated and defined by apps appears to be growing.
In fact, I noticed that by the end of the day, there had barely been a mention of the topic no one could stop talking about at the OMMA Mobile show back in May: iAds. Almost all of the rich media discussed was coming from other sources. And much of the emphasis was elsewhere anyway, away from campaigns and more about relationship building, data gathering, and figuring out how a brand can be useful to mobile customers rather than just another message. Impressionistically, it was clear to me in the nature of the discussions throughout the day, that mobile marketing was showing signs of maturing and getting beyond its own hype.
The presentations at OMMA Mobile were exceptionally strong, and we will have the decks posted at the OMMA Mobile agenda site in the next few days. Every one of them is worth downloading. In addition to Andrew Graham's great kick-off, Joao Machado's passionate argument for getting beyond the app pulled together a lot of the hard data pointing to the need for a much more comprehensive strategy. Webster Lewin's fact-filled and evangelistic speech about the staggering acceleration of social mobile activity, with its subsequent marketing opportunities, really drove home how fast this shift of social media to mobile platforms is taking place. In addition to the "True Blood" case study, Alex Craddock of Visa walked us through the thinking behind Visa and AKQA's inspired interactive wallet ad unit for iPad. Both Craddock and Sal Candela were very forthcoming about how their mobile approach addressed a specific problem, need or goal for their respective brands. And Joy Liuzzo of InsightExpress gave us an appetizer before lunch that included great stats on why the mobile Internet cannot be ignored -- and why retailers are way behind their own customers when it comes to leveraging mobile, both in-store and before the shopper gets to the store.
Check back at the OMMA Mobile site for the presentations to be posted.