The Web ... Only Different

Since it rolled out its "Adaptive Web" technology platform earlier this year with the Univision mobile site, Quattro Wireless has been an especially interesting play in the mobile marketing and publishing space, in large part because of its pedigree. Refugees from m-Qube founded the company, but executives from Advertising.com and Arnold Worldwide joined soon after.

The company offers a full-service solution to premium-content providers like the recently launched WAP site for Playboy.com, and it nabbed high-profile brands in its ad network, like P&G, for whom it also develops custom ad campaigns and landing sites. Cover Girl and Gillette have enjoyed rich media presence on mobile via Quattro in recent months.

In the "Adaptive Web" model, Quattro builds the mobile site by extracting and adapting dynamically from the current Web site the content that makes the most sense for mobile -- then bakes ads into the pages. The idea is to make it easy for the publisher to move to mobile without having to deal with a new build-out of a mobile site, multiple ad serving companies, etc. At the same time, the strategy is designed to make it easier on users to find and use their familiar Web brands on handsets.

Most of the Quattro-powered sites simply use the standard branded dotcom URL and the site detects the incoming device and serves the WAP version. CEO Andy Miller says publishers want continuity between their Web applications and mobile. He finds there is little to no interest in the .mobi domain, for instance. "The publishers want to use their regular URL that visitors are used to, also the brand equity and the SEO work they have done," he says. "They don't want to lose all that."

And so the Quattro system picks five or six areas of a main Web site that adapts well to mobile use, like sports, music or weather, and pulls that information into a mobile version so any updates on the full-sized site occur in real time on the WAP site. "It is low-touch technology, where we can pull different sections and create feeds out of a visual analysis of their site. We map their sites and let them decide what sections of the site to make mobile," says Miller.

Aside from the major and well-known brands, StupidVideos.com is one of Quattro's most interesting and successful mobile conversions. The Web site gets 6 million to 10 million uniques a month and rotates thousands of new, user-submitted videos into its featured areas a day. The Quattro system pulls down new videos as they get submitted and voted on by other users and transcodes them on the fly for the mobile version. The implementation is impressive because it demonstrates how multiple-file formats from many sources can be re-fitted in real time for mobile.

Miller gets a unique view on the evolving market in mobile video by seeing usage patterns for this material ebb and flow throughout the day. The average user is accessing about three clips a day. Usage bumps up after school and in the early evening, reflecting the youth demo. There is also a lot of commute-time usage.

The surprising new spike is emerging around lunch time. In the first several years of mobile data use in the U.S., there was much less activity during the work day, but Miller sees that starting to change as the servers get hit during lunch now. He theorizes that as many companies block employees from free access to all Web sites, they are resorting to the mobile Web to access content they like.

The challenge for advertising on user-generated content on mobile is much the same as on the Web: Who wants to advertise on uncertain content? Where do you place the ads themselves? For now, the ad fit is "the usual suspects" says Miller. Other mobile content companies are pitching their wares to the early adopter and advanced user set, but he is hoping to bring more of the P&Gs of the world onto a broader range of sites. "The advertising interest is there, but the number of premiere sites with a decent audience is not there yet for the major buys."

What has changed already, however, is the sophistication of the ad campaigns.

A year ago, the typical mobile banner ad landed on a single page, perhaps with a click to call option. Now, campaigns like the ones Quattro did for Gillette and Cover Girl succeed by giving mobile users depth. The CoverGirl.com landing site has a sweepstakes, a text club and an interactive skin color chart that lets users find the right cosmetic color. Cover Girl recently renewed the campaign because "they saw that it drove in-store behavior," says Miller. The text club signups performed well above expectations, and users spent a lot of time in the skin shade finder. "They had people come into the store with their phones to show them the shade."

Quattro's richer, deeper landing sites point to the next phase in mobile marketing: offering real utility. As people discover the mobile Web, they are responding to deeper experiences on handsets than many of us anticipated even a year ago. If a mobile destination is on target with a user, apparently there is no clear limit on how far the visitor is willing to drill.

For the advertisers that were smart enough to experiment last year with getting mobile users just to respond to a call to action, this seems to be a year where the cutting-edge moves forward. Now we have to figure out what these hand raisers want to do on the mobile platform after that first click-through. Now we have to transcode for mobile the same question that occupied us on the Web five years ago: How do you move from being noticed by consumers to being of use to them?