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 email@example.com.
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.
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?