Commentary

Musings on the Mobile Insider Summit

  • by , Columnist, January 31, 2014

I’ve always enjoyed working in mobile, but I’ve rarely enjoyed it as much as this week, when I had the pleasure of speaking at MediaPost’s Mobile Insider Summit in Captiva Island, Florida.

It’s not just the great array of agency and client mobile heads to exchange ideas with, it’s the fact that you can do so while wearing swimsuits, paddling around 50 meters offshore, picking up conch shells from the shallows and admiring the nearby dolphins.

I think you can have a much better meeting of minds over social and local strategy with a client while carefully paddling a two-man kayak around the mangrove trees.

But it’s not all vacation – I was also there to present a 101 on Beacon technology. For those who’ve not yet encountered the technology, it’s a new standard that enables devices running branded apps to connect with small devices planted in stores, sports grounds or anywhere in the physical world, enabling hyper-local targeting of coupons, content and other messaging. While it’s early days for the technology, the signs are extremely promising. Check out my slides here.

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But if the event had a theme, for me, it was about mobile marketing transforming into mobile business. Mobile’s no longer about convincing the industry of the benefits of the channel or glorying in the first throes of a brand’s vanity app, now brands are addressing, with remarkable frankness, the challenges that we mobile insiders have been predicting for so long.

We heard Quiznos’ digital team talk about how they are fighting an existential battle in their highly competitive sector with a new attitude of innovation in finding the local customer. We heard Cracker Barrel talk about the importance of flagging the next outlet dynamically while the target family is still miles down the road. And we heard Pop Secret Labs talk about how you can take on the might of the market leaders through a clearly differentiated position and some clever mobile concepts.

What was perhaps most heartening is that the attention has moved away from explaining ideas to maximizing performance. In mobile, the devil is in the details, and both brands and agencies are now focused on refining and optimizing their approach, with hard sales figures often now the final slide to many talks.

Performance is accompanied by personalization – a collective realizing that the harder we work to pry the lid off the huge can of data that we’ve always suspected mobile offers, the more interesting the nature of the results we can get.

The excellent Eli Portnoy from sponsor Thinknear perhaps summed it up best, when, almost bursting with excitement, he described the perfect alignment of unique consumer, content and placement – “that’s when the magic happens.”

It’s a long-running joke in our industry about when “the year of mobile” is going to be. But the fact that no one asks the question any more shows that, finally, mobile is widely recognized as a channel that can truly transform brands and businesses.

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