Moods, Moments, Contexts: OMMA Mobile Finds A New Context In London

After five years of OMMA Mobile shows in the U.S. (we started on the very day the iPhone launched in 2007), we finally made it across the pond for our first Trafalgar-Square-B event this week. Significantly, we had to change our own context to get a day of insights that revolved principally around the potential of “context” in marketing.

In our first panel of agency executives, for instance, Patricia MacDonald, executive planning director, glueIsobar, explained how planners need to engage the challenge of understanding what people are doing at any given moment in order to craft the right message. If a user is in search mode, that is not a time to interrupt, she recommended. We need to understand what a user is trying to achieve in that moment. Targeting against specific behaviors in a person’s day is going to be the huge potential on this platform, added Zachary Paradis, director, experience strategy, SapientNitro. “There will be a lot of micro-targeting,” he predicted.

The recent research by Ipsos and Google on multi-screen behaviors among mobile users was mentioned by several speakers throughout the day, speaking directly to that point about context changing the mode in which people operate. Joule CEO/EMEA Dan Rosen had a comprehensive presentation at the show open about what he calls the new “Hierarchy of screen.” We are moving across visual media experiences throughout our day, Dan argued. A cogent media strategy needs to be thinking about at least four of these screens in a person’s day. And again, it is a matter of understanding differences in context -- not just users in different places (home, work, road) but the user in a range of different modes.

Pilar Barrio, head of social, Socialyse/MPG MediaContacts, had a great approach to distinguishing among our devices. In some insightful research that she and colleague from Havas/Mobext Kieran Bourke presented about tablets, Pilar likened the desktop screen to a “colleague” at work. We relate to that screen a bit more officiously. We depend upon it for information. The tablet is closer to “a good friend.” We curl up with it and have conversations with it in a more relaxed mode at night. The smartphone, however, is a bit closer to a love partner. We bring it to bed and let it accompany us in every intimate moment. Each screen demands different tones in marketing.

I think one of the themes coming from our adventure across the pond was marketers' growing realization and excitement that mobile opens up a new range of targeting against life, not demographics and familiar segmentation. It is interesting how few references there were throughout the day to “18-to-34” year-old women or “early adopters.” I am not sure I heard the term “eyeball” once, either. The absence of such standard segmentation and reach terminology struck me as telling. Instead, the focus was on understanding context in wholly richer ways.

Now we are targeting moods (relaxed, productive, intimate) or modes of use and engagement (inquisitive, task-driven, distracted). Marketing is being reimagined as companion, colleague, lover. All of which also says how much mobility pushes marketers to understand and engage customers at a new and very human level. We aren’t talking about “dayparts” anymore, but “day paths” and “journeys” and targeting against fleeting behaviors and ever-changing moods.

The most intimate media device yet invented is forcing upon marketers a new imperative: you need to know not just where “eyeballs” are or even what they are doing. You need to know what people are feeling and especially how people live their everyday lives. Knowing people on that level, of daily paths in their lives, makes it harder to conceive of a future of marketing that depends merely on interruption or intrusion.

Video streams of a number of the panels and presentations are available here.

More detailed blog posts from our on-site reporter Gina Lovett are also up here.

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1 comment about "Moods, Moments, Contexts: OMMA Mobile Finds A New Context In London ".
  1. Jim Spaeth from Sequent Partners , September 19, 2012 at 4:07 p.m.
    It no surprise that mood and emotion have been found to be a valuable targeting technique in the UK. IPA TouchPoints which has measured consumers' use of media in their life contexts is now in its fourth iteration and has become the basis for media planning in the UK. USA TouchPoints was just launched this year and has already been adopted by the majority of US media agencies. The principal motivation has been the recognition that delivering the right message to the right person in the right life context results in enhanced in-market performance and ROI.