As account director for mobile at Razorfish, Matt Cava is on the front lines of helping clients, such as Victoria's Secret and Mercedes-Benz, navigate the confusing landscape of devices, operating systems, location-based services and other technologies that define the medium. His nearly 10 years of experience in digital ad sales and project management include stints at NetPlus Marketing and iVillage, as well as industry segments spanning pharmaceutical, CPG, financial, franchises -- and yes, even extreme sports. Putting aside mixed martial arts for now, Online Media Daily asked Cava about what's happening in mobile marketing.
OMD: What are Razorfish clients' biggest concerns about mobile in 2011?
Cava: We are seeing a need for strategy in the mobile channel; a clear understanding of how the mobile channel can be utilized across a client's business. Early in 2011, it has been less about "I need an app!" and more about "How are my customers using the mobile channel?" "How can we take advantage of those usage patterns to add value?"
Another theme that's developing is "mobile appropriateness." We're having conversations focused on what's appropriate for the mobile channel and what doesn't provide the best experience in this space. There's lots of lively discussion about what features and functionality might make internal stakeholders happy, but users would find awkward trying to engage with on a smartphone.
OMD: Is any focus shifting away from apps to the mobile Web, given developments like HTML5?
Cava: Apps are not going away. Native device capabilities will continue to drive app usage. However, users are realizing that almost everything they need is available on the mobile Web. People make choices about which digital access point to use, based on the task at hand. For the near term, companies should leverage each channel and provide functionality that their customers expect.
OMD: What are typical mobile budgets, and how much, if any, will they increase this year?
Cava: Budgets are increasing for mobile channel strategy. It's important for our clients to continue to lead in their respective industries, so understanding how to use the channel to drive business is the focus of many 2011 efforts. The budgets for designing and building apps across multiple platforms are also strong.
OMD: What's the biggest hurdle to developing mobile campaigns or media projects?
Cava: Getting a project completed swiftly while not compromising on the experience is a constant tug-of-war. The platforms and hardware enablers are continually evolving; therefore, we have to keep evolving. In order to keep pace with competitors and the technology, development resources are being pushed to the max.
We're seeing some clients shift from external/vendor development resources to internal development resources, and then seeing those internal dev resources quickly meet full capacity. This is a similar trend to the .com space from years ago, but mobile is moving so fast that once a brand gets their internal IT resources set up for say, iOS for smartphones, they are told by the C-level they now need a tablet app.
OMD: What's the biggest misconception clients have about the mobile space?
Cava: This is getting better, but the misconception that launching a native app is a requirement isn't going away. Native device capabilities can drive app usage and deepen relationships with the brand. But users also realize that the mobile Web provides an alternate channel for getting things done.
Also, since mobile is still relatively new for many companies, there can be a perception that mobile exists independent of other channels. Depending on the brand, users expect rich services and timely content to be delivered through native applications, as well as the mobile Web. Building out a mobile channel also requires building out an organization to support it.
OMD: What emerging mobile technologies or trends are you watching closely in 2011?
Cava: It's going to be very interesting to see how rapidly NFC evolves. The technology has great potential to again shift how consumers interact with each other, with advertising and with the payment process. When we discuss NFC and its tremendous potential, we immediately compare it to QR codes. The drawback to greater consumer adoption of QR codes is that it requires new and unfamiliar steps for the consumer.
The big hope is that NFC can break down the usage barriers that QR codes require because it will be embedded in the device. The benefit is less headache for the user, and less headache should create greater user adoption. If the hardware manufacturers embrace it -- and it seems from the World Mobile Congress they are -- and brands embrace it, there are going to be amazing advances made.