Commentary

Anomaly Assembles Its Mobile Play

The aptly named Anomaly shop always aspired to be something more than a traditional agency, and it just announced a mobile spin-off, Assembly. Much of Anomaly's focus has been on developing and profiting from its own intellectual property, a strategy it seems to be extending to the wireless space as well. For instance, its LuckyMedia division developed ad placements on lottery tickets and associated assets. It will be launching soon on the Michigan State Lottery system, which has a potential yield of 1.3 billion impressions a year.

The company is already knee-deep in mobile. The MobileU product licenses college songs and team assets to sell as ringtones and wallpapers. And in its latest innovation, Anomaly partnered with PayPal to create a Text2Buy system that lets a registered PayPal user enter short codes to make payments for select goods from charter vendors like Nike, Fox, Unicef, and Universal Music. I asked Anomaly partner Jason Deland months ago how the company resists the usual agency model. "The way you make that happen is, you never sell time and never value work in time," he said. "You value your ability to offer ideas and set up the structure to be rewarded for them." The Text2Buy system pays back in a percentage of sales.

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With this taste for IP ownership and experience in hand, Anomaly launched the mobile-focused Assembly last week, with Steve Roberts as CEO, Mark Kaplan as Chief Strategy Officer and Colin Rand as CTO. According to reports, Kaplan mentioned at a recent AAF conference that the company would develop some kind of location-based couponing application for mobile that would push geographically relevant offers to phones. While it is still early in the game for the new firm, Kaplan replied to a few of my recent queries about the plan for yet another mobile marketing entity.

Mobile Insider: Is it clear now that advertising is not only possible on cell phones, but pretty much necessary for the mobile content model to flourish?

Kaplan: Advertising and marketing dollars are critical to the future of wireless content. This is certainly the case from a revenue generation perspective, but I believe the most important fact is that unless mobile is integrated into an overall marketing campaign, consumers simply do not discover the content.

Mobile Insider: What exactly is Anomaly's focus and role in this mobile marketing ecosystem?

Kaplan: The particular aspects of mobile that we are focused on is leveraging our true mobile commerce platform with our mobile marketing expertise and technologies to drive net outside sales of real products and deliver brand marketers true, accountable ROI from mobile. These technologies literally enable traditional marketing communications to become point of sale.

Mobile Insider: What role does wireless play within the larger marketing mix?

Kaplan: Wireless plays the role of a pull-marketing tool within the context of a push media campaign. Mobile is best used to establish communications with individual consumers, which creates a dialogue between them and the brand. As a portable device that accesses the Internet, mobile can be thought of as the evolution of direct marketing. It has the interactive and data management benefits of the Internet without the costs of operating a 1-800 call center. Mobile also provides extraordinary data that no other platform can. For example, we can track the time it takes between when a consumer interacts with an advertisement to when or if they purchase that product, then cross-reference that with their location and/or initiated media vehicle.

Mobile Insider: How does Assembly work within the context of an agency?

Kaplan: Within the context  of an agency, Assembly will provide technology and operational support for marketing communications agencies of all types. Assembly will work with any agency and support their initiatives without any conflict to their core business. We actually aim to provide them tools that enhance their client relationships.

Mobile Insider: What is the business model here?

Kaplan: I cannot provide you details of our business plan, but I can tell you that Assembly's mission is to be the world's broadest direct-to-consumer mobile commerce and promotions platform.

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