Commentary

How Is Mobile Still A Thing?: Mobile Insider Summit Preview

It's been eight years since we initiated the Mobile Insider column here at MediaPost -- probably the first independent publication in the ad trades dedicated to mobile marketing and media. And it has been about four years since we launched this Mobile Marketing Daily and its MoBlog. Increasingly, however, I no longer feel as if I am writing about anything different from the Internet itself.

For years, we here at Mediapost and others in the digital industry segmented the landscape into platform verticals like social, video, mobile, search, etc. But at this point the overwhelming majority of social media interactions and most video and search activity is happening on a device. Is “mobile” even a distinction worth making anymore, when so much digital activity has migrated off of the desktop?

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This new reality of mobile is the main topic at this year’s Mobile Insider Summit in Key Largo, April 26-29. Specifically, we are looking at how the mobile migration is impacting the video and social media that only a couple of years ago were desktop media.

Presentations from Rosetta Stone, Burger King, PGA Tour, WhiteWave Foods and Jeff Malmad of Mindshare will be drilling into projects that engage these various channels in combination. For Rosetta Stone, the challenge is selling a $199 language instruction app. The director of digital marketing will tell us how the company uses Facebook advertising, video and those familiar TV spots to weave a cross-platform presence that makes a $199 app buy make sense to consumers.

WhiteWave includes plant-based products like Silk almond milk and So Delicious dairy-free milks and desserts. Social Marketing Manager Lori Anderson will explore how the brands are creating a “path to loyalty” that integrates multiple mobile channels.

Burger King’s senior director of media and communications, Adam Gagliardo, wonders whether marketing opportunities in mobile have really kept pace with the technological capabilities. He will walk us through how BK is leveraging mobilized social platforms in innovative ways.

And have you seen the new PGA Tour app for following the weekend golf tournaments? These guys have blown the doors off old notions of “second screen” apps. You pick the nature and level of the experience. It can be first screen (live streaming) or second (synchronized companion to viewing). This is PGA Tour’s way of crafting a differentiated app in a world of responsive Web design where all sports data is already mobile.

As these marketer presentation will show, we no longer see mobile as a constrained space with limited capacity for messaging. Mobile is about storytelling now.

Of course there are still separate aspects of mobility that force us to rethink desktop conventions or get our heads around wholly new categories of interaction. So in a range of panels we will also be considering how mobile changes discovery: How have the search, social and sharing pathways shifted, and how does this impact ad formats like native? Messaging, of course, is a new mobile genre, but what can we learn from everyone’s first tentative attempts to make it a marketing channel? We know that mobility has changed the living room TV viewing environment, but what new dynamic is emerging here for brands and media to explore? And mobile is still the only digital channel that can activate live experiences in arenas and clubs. We will explore how people really want to “second-screen” exciting moments.

So the short answer to whether mobile really should still be a thing is yes and no. In one sense mobile is digital now.  To discuss social, video and search experiences as if they are not primarily mobile ones is daft a this point. And yet we err in mistaking mobile as an extension of the Web as we have known it. Mobility is indeed creating new genres like messaging and live video casting. Location, immediacy, new physical contexts, the multimedia inputs devices allow: all discrete elements are what still make mobile mobile.

But let's save some of this for the Summit

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