The Wisdom Of (My) Crowd

After a year of using Facebook - and, more recently, Twitter -- my respect for social networking as a real productivity tool has increased immeasurably. I admit to being a laggard on "social," if only because I am one of those stereotypical shut-in scribes. At the gym, asking the stranger ahead of me on the Pec Deck whether he is "done with that?" counts as socializing for me. The value of a virtual network of all the friends I didn't have eluded me. Of course, as veterans of those platforms knew long before I figured it out, the network of professionals you do assemble around you on these services become invaluable sources of ideas, contacts and information. I have a small following on Twitter -- but a call for sources on a story or a hunt for last-minute conference panel replacements almost always nets a response even on my small, pathetic scale of a social network. Imagine if I had friends.

And it is with that new respect for crowd sourcing in mind that I call all my reader's attention to the Speaker Proposal page for the upcoming OMMA Mobile Conference on April 29 in New York.



All too often in programming these shows, the best ideas for panels and speakers come in too late in the cycle. While I already have most of the panels plotted out (look for them in the next couple of weeks) I continue to juggle ideas and alternatives. I welcome suggestions in the comments section here, in the Speaker Proposal forms or directly to my email address at

My direction so far has been to highlight integration in this upcoming show. As I talk to more mobile evangelists at agencies and within brands, many of them tell me they often hit a wall in getting mobile into the planning early enough and deeply enough to matter. And yet some of the strongest examples of mobile's impact comes from highly integrated campaigns, when they happen.

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Others I speak to, more on the vendor side, feel frustrated that mobile conferences too often seem like echo chambers. We trade notes, sing the praises of the new medium, and just can't understand why even more money isn't flowing mobile media's way. How exactly do we break from that cycle and talk more directly with the other marketing disciplines?

Perhaps we do this by talking more directly about how mobile best activates, enhances, measures the media that marketers already plan and buy. I think at this point in the evolution of mobile marketing, the platform might benefit more from seeming unremarkable in a way. We should be talking less and less about mobile as a technology category or an emerging media silo and instead explore the larger marketing executions that made mobile a seamless piece of a larger plan.

This is not a major insight, I know, and everyone has been talking "integration" and "activation" forever. But I wonder if there is a subtle difference in kind if we get marketers to move beyond asking "what is the mobile piece?" or "I want something mobile." Instead, don't we want planners to ask first how they could best involve an audience in this radio spot, that print poster or kiosk? How do they extend the experience of a great piece of outdoor creative on the spot? The missed opportunity comes from the unasked question. Get them to ask the right questions and you don't need to hype the obvious answer.

It has taken a decade, but I think many marketers have so absorbed the possibilities of online interactivity that they no longer ask "what is the online piece?" as if the Web is just another medium to buy. The Internet is the go-to medium for capturing names and pursing conversations, engaging consumer imagination and input, or measuring interest because its tools are so familiar that we don't necessarily think of them as "the digital piece." They are the activating and accountability agents for the rest of the typical campaign. The absence of digital components in most campaigns now is just a failure to leverage and optimize all available tools.

Mobile needs to aspire to that status. I am guessing we need to root out and show the instances where that happens most effectively.

For me, finding ways to illustrate integration in cases and discussion is one of the motivating principles for this next show. I have panels already in the works that will highlight some recent research on the topic, as well as show how mobile evangelists are communicating the mobile opportunity within their own agencies. And integration will be a theme that I want to course through other discussions -- about social networking, for instance.

Instead of asking the perennial question, how do we monetize all the inventory and activity mobile social networks produce now, we should work backward and ask where, when and how does this activity take place -- and how does that map against the marketing programs the user encounters?

But what else? Where next? I pose it to you. What problem needs to be solved or addressed in a conference context? If mobile is the answer, then what are the best questions?

9 comments about "The Wisdom Of (My) Crowd".
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  1. Mike Patterson from WIP, Inc., February 19, 2009 at 1:05 p.m.

    So completely off topic (kind of), what is your Twitter username so we can follow you? Or is that privileged information?

  2. catherine Wachs, February 19, 2009 at 1:09 p.m.

    I think you're correct in your supposition that most agencies, really their clients, don't or can't find a way to supply content and funding for fully integrated campaigns.

    The mobile piece has to be considered very carefully, though, or it will go the way of pop up ads. The right message at the exact right time is key, otherwise you will just annoy people.

    My media consultants don't typically recommend mobile advertising, because of it's narrow reach. Perhaps when the activities and users can be pinpointed accurately, there will be more impetus to leverage a mobile component.

  3. Craig Adams from Zebra Logic Entertainment, February 19, 2009 at 1:30 p.m.

    Two things I see:

    1. We will find more acceptance and validation in the mobile space if it's not force-fit into a campaign. Simply saying "we need a mobile piece" harkens back to the day of "we want to do something viral." It becomes a gimmick rather than a valuable and logical extension to a well-crafted integrated campaign. Which leads to my second point.

    2 . It is incumbent upon the creatives to concept with the brand ethos in mind and not just the medium. A well-concepted campaign will speak to where the brand needs to be and will (hopefully) be in line with what the brand needs to be saying. This reassures the client that the platform isn't driving the creative but rather the brand.

  4. Steve Smith from Mediapost, February 19, 2009 at 1:30 p.m.

    Mike -- See this is why i so suck at Twitter and all social apps. I don't even know the etiquette.

    I am @popeyesm

  5. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 19, 2009 at 2:45 p.m.

    "Get them to...." Sounds exactly what the editorial department said to the advertising department when the rates were so over the top and content was way less than meager in every way. Later, they did stop saying "get them to" since the sections went the way of the telegram. The phrase obviously still has life.

  6. Suzanne Mcgee from Fusion PR, February 19, 2009 at 3:30 p.m.

    Steve, thanks for your twitter address. Amazing how many Steve Smiths there are!

    Your post was perfect and one that I'm sending to our clients as many misunderstand what is needed for a solid, time-worthy submission. So many people miss an amazing opportunity as they treat it like a product promo when there is so much room for thought leadership and dialogue cross industries. Your OMMA programs really push speakers to give more than their sales speak.

    I wish more would do this. Here's my expanded comment:

  7. Catherine Ventura from @catherinventura, February 19, 2009 at 4:21 p.m.

    I fully concur with poster Catherine Wachs.
    Content rich sponsored apps are one thing, pop up ads when I'm trying to phone someone (which I only do if I can't tweet them!) are something completely different. The challenge is to inhabit the mobile space intelligently. That said, mobile is poised to have the largest reach the world...

  8. Mike Patterson from WIP, Inc., February 19, 2009 at 5:27 p.m.

    Thanks for the Twitter info Steve, guess I could have deduced that from your email but my investigatory skills were lacking on that one. Mine is @mpattyfly if you are so inclined, I tweet often about mobile issues as I am in the midst of developing a crossover web-mobile application. Thanks again, keep the good stuff comin', love your column (can we still call it that?).

  9. Steve Smith from Mediapost, February 19, 2009 at 5:46 p.m.

    With the new burst of subscribers I just got in the last few hours I am feeling obliged to tweet, now. When they find a business model for this thing do you think they might rename it for us? I might post to Twitter more if I didn't know I was "tweeting."

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