Commentary

Not a Medium, But a Reflex

Declaring a "year of mobile" has become such a running joke in the industry that even if and when a "year of mobile" does occur, none of us will be willing to say as much. And why bother? But if ever there was a mobile moment, 2010 is going to be it. At last week's OMMA Mobile, I was struck by the quiet confidence of mobile marketers that their time had arrived.

The defensive need to justify the medium, pretty much a fixture at mobile marketing gatherings for years now, seemed to be replaced by an air of inevitability. We came into Los Angeles bolstered by the recent Mary Meeker Web 2.0 address, in which she boldly stated that mobile was the next great computing platform. Meeker's charts and insights crept into just about every presentation and panel during the day. Her chart that showed literal hockey-stick adoption of the iPhone/iPod Touch in relation to the take-up rates for other computing platforms is soon to become a mobile geek classic.

For those of you who missed the show, let me refer you back to the OMMA Mobile agenda, where we have posted some of the presentations from ESPN's head of mobile John Zehr and comScore's Elise Neel.

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Also, Mediapost editor John Capone and reporters Wayne Friedman, Eric Sass, Laurie Sullivan and Ross Fadner were giving blow-by-blow quick takes at the Events Blog.

Also, panelist Michael Boland, BIA/Kelsey's man on mobile, has blogged about the shows.

And finally many thanks to Charles McCullagh, the Magazine Publishers of America SVP of Member Services and Technology, for giving a very thorough review and report on this and the next day's OMMA Video show.

Video of the event will be up at the OMMA Mobile site within the next week or two.

Just a few notes and observations.

For an event that we billed as "marketing in 3D," I couldn't have asked for a better kick-off than John Zehr's keynote. His stats and insights should be a clarion call to major media. John is not just bullish about mobile. He is seeing signs that mobile is going to be taking the lead in some media. His site stats show that on some Sundays mobile Web traffic is already matching Web site traffic to ESPN. And as he pointed out, these are the numbers at a point where only 20% of mobile users are accessing data and only 3% are using mobilw3e video. Just do the math on that one and it becomes obvious that in some content categories we should see mobile Web access to a media brand exceed desktop access in the next couple of years.

Which leads me to another important point that came out of OMMA Mobile: monetization is going to be a real issue for mobile sites sooner rather than later. The panel on mobile ad networks was the most heated of the day, and rightly so. Check out Ross's post on the panel, as well as John's.

AP's Jeff Litvack and Weather Channel's Josh Schoenberg pressed the point that the ad nets are depressing prices and that branded media may try to partner up to create their own truly premium ad network. This is an issue that I took up in the current issue of OMMA magazine as well.

This issue is not going away, no matter how much my friends among the networks try to convince me it is a non-issue. Feel free to discuss below.

Gene Keenan's superb presentation not only reinforced the enthusiasm of Mary Meeker but did what Gene usually does so well: look forward to the next stage. I thought his emphasis on the potential of augmented reality on mobile was right on target and right on time. This is going to come upon us faster than it seemed just a year ago. Run, don't walk to the Yelp! iPhone app, the Wikitude Android app, or the really stunning Layar iPhone app for a glimpse of what it means to layer dynamic Web data onto the physical world. AR has the potential to leapfrog 2D bar codes altogether.

Finally, don't' miss Elise Neel's presentation slides, especially the last two sections that review some interesting current stats. ComScore's numbers show that Mary Meeker was right. This is shaping up to be the next great computing platform. For instance, mobile usage of Facebook is much like desktop usage. And the mobile Web, not the desktop, is the first point of contact for viewers. My favorite stat of the day was that 22% of mobile Web access time takes place between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. Yes, we roll out of bed and first consult the cell phone, not just for messages but for information. The question now is, what marketer would not want to be prominent on this platform? Mobile is actually better than another medium. It is a reflex. 

  

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