Professional services and accounting firm KPMG recently conducted a survey of "200 media and advertising professionals" about important and "disruptive" advertising trends. Here's what the survey found:
Separately from Barcelona this week AdMob touted the growth of its mobile ad network on a global basis:
AdMob has extended its relationships with a number of mobile publishers and added new publisher partners to its network including Flirtomatic, MADS, peperonity.com, Taptu, and WYAN. These partners, combined with AdMob’s more than 6,000 mobile Web sites and 700 iPhone and Android applications, reinforce AdMob’s position as the largest mobile advertising network in the world.
The company also said that in December "more than 60 brand advertisers ran campaigns on AdMob’s global network including Adidas, Kodak, MTV, Nokia, O2, and Paramount, more than doubling the number that ran in the same period one year prior."
Below are some "leaked" screenshots of the forthcoming Windows Mobile 6.5 (taken from Gadget Mix). In addition the Windows Mobile apps store (SkyMarket or whatever it will be called) has apparently been confirmed (no surprise there).
There's a great deal at stake for Microsoft in Windows Mobile 6.5 being a hit. Windows Mobile 7 won't be out until next year and 6.1 has badly lagged other mobile OS's in the new radically more competitive world of smartphones.
Windows Mobile 6.5 and a host of other mobile offerings from Microsoft will be announced during the Steve Ballmer keynote at the Mobile World Congress next week in Barcelona.
Despite millions of unit sales Microsoft is the underdog now in mobile and the company has a limited window to make the necessary upgrades to make its devices more attractive to consumers.
Here's a video tour of 6.5's features that made its way onto YouTube.
See: How mobile Firefox could help Windows Mobile.
The following are some highlights from AdMob's January Mobile Metrics report.
The company exposes some data on growing WiFi usage among device owners accessing sites in AdMob's network:
These data may reflect that these states/locations have the most developed infrastructure, combined with early adopters.
Here are selected graphics and charts that I pulled from the report:
Consistent with the text above, AdMob data show that the iPhone and iPod Touch over index on their network vs. their penetration in the European market. This is entirely consistent with the other data in the market showing much greater usage of the mobile Internet among iPhone owners.
Interestingly, in the chart below global iPhone requests are somewhat flat while iPod Touch requests have grown. This reflects the rise in iPod Touch ownership:
There are probably two "constituencies" out there that own the iPod Touch. There are those who have it primarily as an iPod and for whom the mobile Internet and applications represent a secondary emphasis; then there are those who purchased it as an iPhone equivalent because they didn't want to switch to AT&T.
The following shows mobile OS representation in AdMob's US network:
In terms of changes vs. December the above chart reflects 2% growth in Apple OS share and a single point loss by Windows Mobile and Palm. Everything else is flat.
The tiny Nokia/Symbian US market share, as well as the EU OS numbers above, have got to be a continuing worry to the company. By contrast, Nokia sold over a million units of its new "Tube" Xpress Music 5800 phones in Europe last month. The phone is Nokia's first touch-screen device but carries a price tag of $400 (unclear if there will be a subsidy when it enters the US later this month). It's popuarity is partly the result of a free year of music.
However, as Wired points out, at a price that exceeds the iPhone, iPod Touch, Android phones and probably the Pre, it's very unlikely to gain much traction in the US market. Meanwhile the Palm Pre (also potentially a $400 phone) may well be heavily subsidized by Sprint to jumpstart sales. Sprint has roughly six months (according to speculation) as the exclusive distributor of the device.
Smartphones that cost more than about $300 are going to have difficulty competing in the US market. If subsidized handsets will need to come in at around $200 to compete -- the pricing established by iPhone 3G and matched by the Android G1.
There are again rumors of a $99 "entry level" iPhone. While there may be some version of the truth hidden within the rumors, it's unlikely that they're true as presented. Apple has jealously guarded its brand and has repeatedly refused to make low-cost products for fear of reduced quality. In addition, its relatively inexpensive Mini has had only mixed success.
Note: AdMob's data are not necessarily representative of the entire market (they are drawn from publishers and usage of sites in the AdMob network). However, the AdMob data are directionally representative.
Few people probably remember the very early days of Google when it was just one of many search engines. In those days Google aggressively syndicated its search box to third party sites -- that was one of the ways it built its brand. Now Google is arguably the top brand in the world.
In mobile Google leads Yahoo! and Microsoft in search market share, both in the US and in Europe. But search is not as central to the mobile experience as it is online. Google has invested very heavily in mobile across multiple products and platforms.
Expanding on its mobile AdSense program, Google is seeking to put more search boxes on more sites and the carrot is AdSense. In the same way that online publishers gained revenue from this -- Google had a very generous revenue sharing program early on -- it's seeking to broaden the visibility and use of mobile search (and corresponding ad clicks).
According to the Google Mobile blog:
[W]e're happy to announce a new AdSense product for both mobile network operators and mobile website owners across the globe. AdSense for mobile search is a quick and easy way for carriers and mobile publishers to embed a Google search box on their mobile portals and web sites. Whether they are day-dreaming of Hawaii or trying to find the perfect Valentine's day gift, mobile phone users will get instant access to Google search including comprehensive web search, local, image, and news results -- all formatted for their phones. Mobile operators and website owners share in the ad revenue generated by searches originating from their sites.
Lots of operators already have search relationships (many around the world with Yahoo!). Some will undoubtedly go for this. More likely however Google will have success with mobile publishers, which will be attracted by the prospect of Google's large advertiser base and potential revenues. The mobile search/AdSense program is largely complementary to what the various mobile ad networks offer.
However, in addition to Yahoo! and Microsoft, Google mobile search has competition from JumpTap and Medio, which both offer carrier/publisher search and corresponding monetization.
At our Internet2Go event in San Franscisco a week and a half ago, AdMob's Tony Nethercutt made the amazing statement that, according to data from all of Insight Express' benchmarked campaigns, mobile dramatically outperformed online advertising.
I got a copy of a summary slide reflecting the data that Nethercutt had referenced and spoke to Insight Express. First, here's the amazing slide:
I spoke to Joy Liuzzo and Elise Neel of Insight Express on Friday for more context and they confirmed that, indeed, mobile campaigns had outperformed online across all campaigns measured.
We discussed why that might be -- less ad clutter, more novelty, etc. -- but the result was nonetheless there: mobile was the better performer.
Brian Mandelbaum, Vice President, Interactive Group Media Director, Cramer-Krasselt who with Yahoo! gave the keynote (based on a recent Porsche campaign) also said that mobile had outperformed other elements of the multi-platform campaign, which included TV, print and online. He also said that in terms of ROI, mobile was cheaper.
This is a compelling story that's not widely known among agencies and marketers -- clearly.
A survey from mobile social network Limbo on the attitudes and behavior of 2,000 mobile phone users in the US and UK in Q4 shows, consistent with other data, that iPhone owners are more engaged across the board and are seeing more ads. They're also responding more too.
Here are some topline data from the survey report:
Source: Limbo/GfK Technology (2009)
More than 162 million consumers used text messaging in Q4, by far the dominant form of mobile data usage
Women and younger people (18-24) are most likely to respond to ads
Specifics regarding ad response:
We spent some time yesterday at the offices of mobile ad marketplace and software provider Smaato. The range of subjects we discussed was fascinating: from the origin and meaning of the company's name to the future of mobile display advertising, coming IP-connected devices of various stripes and mobile e-commerce.
Smaato offers an open marketplace to maximize available ad inventory for publishers and to gain additional distribution for ad networks. The company doesn't do any direct ad sales itself so as not to compete with network partners like AdMob. The company's reach is international.
We spent a fair amount of time talking about privacy and mobile marketing. Privacy is a front-burner issue because of the recent US FTC complaint against "deceptive mobile marketing practices" filed by two consumer groups, the Center for Digital Democracy and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
In addition to a host of mobile marketing companies, search engines and ad networks the complaint discusses Smaato's SOMA software platform and its targeting capabilities:
The SOMA mobile advertising platform, created by the mobile advertising technology company Smaato, also provides fine-grain targeting capabilities. According to a company fact sheet, “the SOMA platform enables the management and delivery of targeted display advertising to mobile phones within applications and on mobile sites.”66 Targeting consumers by “interests, age, application, application type, device type, time, language,” and other content categories, “the SOMA server delivers ads directly into predefined ad spaces on mobile Web pages and indirectly via the SOMA client into mobile applications for in-application advertising. The SOMA server collects ads from the affiliated ad sales networks and sends tracking data back into their reporting databases.”
However Smaato co-founder and CEO Ragnar Kruse has a vision for the future of mobile advertising and marketing that resolves all or almost all the issues in the complaint: make all mobile advertising opt-in. We discussed some potential near-term issues in implementing such a system, concerning audience reach and consumer participation. But his point is right.
The MMA has promulgated best practices around opt-in for mobile marketers. But there's a difference between pure mechanics and what I believe Kruse is arguing for -- a philosophical orientation to mobile marketing.
Opt-in makes mobile marketing more like search, where people indicate preferences and intentions through keyword queries. There are questions of mechanics and user experience -- how would all this be presented? -- but theoretically I would indicate my interest in seeing selected categories of ads and offers (much like opting in to email newsletters). I might also be inclined to share additional information about myself to maximize the relevance of those ads.
What it's really about is creating a more personalized culture of mobile advertising than what currently exists online, despite behavioral targeting. That might not be able to develop if the current online ad culture quickly and entirely transfers over to mobile.
Those ad networks/brokers with one foot online and one in mobile want to create consistency between the two worlds for obvious reasons. But it may be wise to more consciously examine the assumptions, ideas and metrics that have come to dominate online and reconsider some of them. As ad executive and consultant Jon Kaiser said at our Internet2Go conference last week, don't just look at clicks consider the entire set of campaign goals.
Kruse's ideal of an entirely opt-in mobile marketing universe that leads to more customized ads may not be entirely achievable in practice but it's very much worth considering and pursuing.
CPG Coupon provider Coupons Inc. has acquired popular iPhone shopping list app GroceryIQ. Here's what the press release has to say:
GroceryIQ is the leading grocery shopping application for the iPhone or iPod Touch. The application comes preloaded with more than 130,000 items commonly found in supermarkets across America. The critically-acclaimed software enables users to organize their personal shopping lists by store, aisle, buying history, favorites, as well as customizing item sizes. With more than a thousand new installs daily, GroceryIQ has been the #1 paid application in the “Lifestyle” category of the iTunes app store since its release.
The coupon-enabled application will match shopper’s grocery lists with Coupons.com coupons, and provide multiple ways for consumers to redeem the coupons from their handset. The free upgrade will also allow users to download layouts of nearby supermarkets based on ZIP code and organize their shopping list by store layout to save time shopping.
This deal is a no-brainer for Coupons, Inc. which will be able to insert mfg coupons in contextually relevant places on the app. People will definitely use the coupons; the only question is whether the stores are prepared to redeem them from a mobile handset.
This coupons-shopping app integration is not unlike that on the Kraft iFood Assistant.
According to a press release out this morning, SMS marketing firm 4Info has received $20 million more from investors:
4INFO, a leading mobile media company and pioneer of SMS advertising and publishing services, announced today that it has raised $20 million in equity and debt funding from all its existing investors and one new investor. Existing investors Peacock Equity -- the joint venture between GE Capital's Media, Communications & Entertainment finance business and NBC Universal -- and Gannett, Inc. led the funding, in addition to US Venture Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Sand Hill Capital. Joining these existing investment partners is new investor Selby Ventures. 4INFO will use this funding to continue expansion into traditional media partnerships for integrated mobile campaigns, as well as accelerated development of 4INFO mobile marketing services and rich media technology.
The company claims 80 million "answers and alerts via text message per month" and 16 million users.
For investors this is a no-brainer because 4Info has already proven itself in the market and says it will be profitable this year. And SMS is the "entry point" for many brand advertisers who want to test mobile marketing or integrate mobile into a traditional media campaign.
4Info will be a featured speaker next week at Internet2Go on a panel discussing SMS-based marketing:
Panel: SMS - Not Sexy but Voluminous
Americans now spend more time texting than talking on their phones. The monthly volume of mobile messages has now reached 75 billion -- with a "B." SMS is also device-independent and can be done on the more than 85% of the market constituted by feature phones. Yet most marketers and pundits appear to be looking beyond SMS to the "mobile Internet." Are they missing a huge opportunity? How should agencies and advertisers think about SMS and where it fits into a mobile marketing plan?
Zaw Thet, CEO & Co-Founder, 4Info
Jay Highley, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Cha Cha
Greg Hallinan, VP of Marketing, Verve Wireless
Alec Andronikov, Chief Mobilizer/CEO, MoVoxx
The Mobile World Congress is coming up in Barcelona, Spain in mid-February. The show is like CTIA in its gargantuan sweep and the barrage of announcements and press that come out of it. ZDNet points to to the nominees for a range of mobile awards in connection with the show.
The list includes some familiar and some more obscure names and companies. Of interest to me are the following categories:
There are many more categories and one could probably argue vigorously with some of the nominations in some of the categories.
Meanwhile Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is going to Keynote MWC (as he recently did CES). There's an expectation of a wide range of mobile announcements, including WinMo 6.5 and a competitor to Apple's flawed MobileMe service, as well as an centralized applications market a la iTunes.
At CES earlier this month Ballmer made the announcement that Microsoft would become the default search provider for Verizon Wireless in the US in a multi-year deal that includes a range of ad types. We'll have to actually wait until the MWC keynote to see what gets announced this time around.
Finally, in recent weeks, Microsoft executives implied that the number of Windows Mobile phones in the market would be reduced. That makes sense because the proliferation of WinMo devices has partly impaired the development of a strong brand identity, which is now necessary to succeed in the newly, intensely competitive mobile handset market.
AdAge reports on Kraft's relatively new iPhone app, the "iFood Assistant," which costs consumers $.99. It also features advertising as the image below indicates:
The article implies that Kraft is getting away with something by charging and still featuring ads. But, like the Chipotle iPhone app before it (and to a lesser degree the Target and Gap apps), Kraft has created of something of real value for consumers and something of a template for other brand marketers.
The iFood Assistant offers large numbers of recipes, shopping lists, videos, a store locator and other features that take this out of the realm of quick, cynical marketing efforts into something that will undoubtedly build and reinforce a consumer relationship. Kraft can pump all its coupons into this app (where relevant) and it also inserts its own brands at appropriate places into shopping lists.
This is "mobile marketing" par excellence by Kraft. It's a model for others. However, those brands that read about this and would whip up an iPhone app simply to have one will be disappointed. They need to be thoughtfully executed and offer real utility to consumers. This is the lesson of the "flogs" -- fake blogs set up by marketers or their agencies -- from a couple years ago. Accordingly, "flapps" (fake apps) will similarly not be tolerated by users.
Mike Wehrs, erstwhile mobile evangelist at Nuance Communications, has stepped up to the presidency of the Mobile Marketing Association by rapidly responding to criticisms from the self-appointed groups protecting the privacy of mobile subscribers. Prompted by a complaint filed with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by The Center for Digital Democracy and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Wehrs asked for more specifics. According to a report by Colin Gibb in the RCR Wireless Newsletter, Wehrs took the time to read the complaint and noted that it was long on platitudes and short on specifics.
The filing from the two public interest groups was something of a pre-emptive strike. While not citing specifics regarding violations, it listed several remedies, including a deeper investigation of "the impact of interactive, targeted advertising" on the market; indentification of "marketing practices that compromise user privacy and consumer welfare"; examination of "opt-in procedures to ensure consumers receive full disclosure of what data is being collected and its future use"; and finally, the issuance of "policies and actions that halt current practices that abuse consumer rights" in order to "recommend legislation that prevent such abuses in the future."
General concerns over privacy have had a chilling effect on network-based innovation - with the delay of the roll-out of CallerID as a prime example. Wehrs is right to stand up to general objections and to state that the industry is happy to address specific concerns as they arise, but not at the detriment of companies that are introducing new services that leverage GPS, search and ecommerce.
As Wehrs notes, “The industry needs to be held accountable to behave responsibly. If the industry doesn't behave responsibly there needs to be an escalation path. But I think we have indicated we are behaving responsibly.” Yet according to Gibbs' report, there could be some tightening of enforcement of rules surrounding "opt-in" practices. But they should not be so cumbersome as to discourage introduction of innovative new services.
As Fortune points out, Nokia is the dominant smartphone maker and the dominant handset maker in the world, but it continues to struggle in the US market. The article argues that Nokia's success formula outside the US has limited its prospects in the US:
The problem is not the product. The n97 might not be ready for sale, but Nokia's e71, which looks like a sleeker version of the BlackBerry Curve, has won design awards and dominates many European markets. And it has several phones in its n-series of multimedia devices that boast the best cameras and videocams in the biz. North American president Mark Louison says U.S. carriers will soon support the phones. But ask the phone companies, and they say they have no plans to roll out Nokia smartphones anytime soon.
By lagging in smartphones Nokia isn't just missing out on sales; it may also be losing the attention of software developers that make cool games and applications for mobile devices, a growing number of which operate in the U.S.
Nokia is reinventing itself yet again as an Internet company, a sort of Yahoo.com for your phone. It is trying to woo application developers to its mobile platform through offices in Silicon Valley and Boston. You'd think it would be tantalizing to write software for the world's largest mobile platform. But ask developers worldwide to show you their favorite mobile apps, and they'll probably pull out their iPhones.
The North American market has become the dominant mobile Internet market -- and the most competitive -- in a very short period of time.
The AdMob data show how quickly the iPhone has encroached on Nokia's smartphone share:
Here's a closer look at the US smartphone market; Symbian is flat at less than 5%:
Although the Fortune piece argues that devices/handsets aren't the problem Nokia needs to excite people with a handset in the way that the Pre has appeared to rekindle Palm's fortunes in one stroke. Perhaps the N97 is that phone, although its suggested price €550 ($695) will likely prevent it from becoming mainstream vs. cheaper competitors in the US market.
Failure to gain a larger share of the US and North American market means eventual share losses in Western Europe and possibly elsewhere.
Under the terms of the agreement, Call Genie is providing its CG ADvantage Ad Management system which includes features such as inventory price management, inventory forecasting, field-based campaign proposal generation, auto-campaign creation, reporting and final invoicing. These capabilities allow Yell to effectively manage its 118 24 7 ad inventory in a way that enables product packaging to be defined based on UK region and advertising classification. Additionally, CG ADvantage allows Yell's sales consultants to create real time proposals, based on the available advertising inventory.
Ad inventory will reportedly be segmented by vertical and location. I haven't spoken to Yell about this but it would allow them to sell mobile as a separate ad buy rather than simply push directory advertisers into results. Yell has several sources of mobile distribution, including mobile Web and applications.
Mike Wehrs who was a VP and "evangelist" for Nuance has been named to succeed Laura Marriott at the helm of the Mobile Marketing Association:
As President and CEO of the MMA, Mr. Wehrs will continue to promote its charter to build a sustainable ecosystem for the mobile marketing industry globally, focusing on delivering benefits to MMA members, establishing guidelines and best practices for future growth, and driving mobile adoption worldwide.
This was a surprise to some who see Wehrs as a someone with product and technology expertise rather than a media/advertising background. But as Dan Miller told MediaPost, "I think he's very articulate, patient and a good explainer." My experience of Mike is also that he's quite articulate and measured.
While most brands and agencies have largely deferred mobile efforts in the bad economy, they will eventually be convinced to spend on mobile advertising by consumer adoption of the mobile Internet.
MediaPost has a Q&A interview with Wehrs. Here's the most important part of the interview in my mind:
And getting outside of their own silo. How does the mobile marketing world stop just talking to itself about itself and get in front of the larger media buying community and at the agency level?
Wehrs: There is s a significant opportunity for measuring the ad shift in ad dollars spent. And that is what attracts most of the ad companies to want to participate here. There is opportunity, once we figure out how to do this at a scalable way, and is that going to just represent a share shift from one type of distribution channel to another or is that a net increase they will see in terms of ad dollars spent? They don't want to give up on what they are doing in other channels. And that is an interesting discussion.
At the MMA the important point is you have to unlock it first. You have to get to the point where your Adidases and Coca-Colas and other major brand advertisers view the mobile channel and say, I understand how to use this. I can do this cost-effectively. And I can get to market in a very scalable way from a global perspective. I understand the metrics and the return I am going to get on it.
The pieces that are in place that make them feel comfortable spending those kinds of dollars in television or radio -- when those pieces are in place in the mobile marketplace, then they will of course shift a significant amount of dollars there. Whether it is net or a gross increase, that is an interesting topic and I would love to be in a position where we are talking about that.
This is the precise reason why we're doing Internet2Go.
As mobile phones have gotten better at providing directions and mapping, as well as offering a host of other types of content and mobile Internet access, PNDs have had to evovle or risk a dwindling market. Dash was the first device to debut with real-time IP connectivity. Quickly, after Dash, the other PND OEMs announced that they too would offer such devices that allowed for two way data exchanges over the air.
TomTom, which owns Teleatlas, has brought out its first such device, the GO 740 Live. It's already available in Europe and coming to the US in Q2 of this year. It will cost a heafty $499 but such devices are much more compelling than the unconnected PNDs.
It offers Google local search, weather, gas price search, traffic and community/social elements:
TomTom Buddies: With TomTom Buddies, drivers can link their TomTom device to those of their friends so they can locate each other on the map, share favorite locations, as well as exchange and share location information and text messages.
TomTom Map Share: Like all TomTom devices, the GO 740 LIVE comes with TomTom Map Share, TomTom’s unique community-based map improvement technology that allows drivers to make specified improvements to their map instantly on their device. Leveraging its base of 25 million users to date, TomTom has received over five million map improvements thus far. The combination of superior Tele Atlas map updates and Map Share allows TomTom to deliver the most up-to-date and accurate maps in the industry.
With Bluetooth, you can make calls through these devices (in Europe). There's also voice command.
So the PND market will likely evolve along the lines of this model -- offering something approaching full mobile Internet access, local content/POIs, SMS/Voice communication, as well as a host of other travel-related content and services.
A bi-furcated market will perhaps also evolve: low-end navigation devices that offer few frills and are relatively cheap juxtaposed with more expensive "connected" devices that offer the kinds of content and capabilities that GO 740 Live provides.
As most of you are aware by now, Microsoft announced two big search distribution deals last night: a three year global deal with Dell and a five year mobile deal with Verizon Wireless. That instantly gives Microsoft access to Verizon's roughly 80 million users. It's a big win for Microsoft and represents one of the company's best chances for stopping Google's march toward early mobile search dominance. It also gives Microsoft the ability to tout the Verizon user base before brand and national advertisers. In one stroke Microsoft "overcomes" the fragmentation problem of mobile marketing -- potentially.
However it very much remains to be seen how many people actually use the search tools that will be integrated and pre-loaded onto Verizon handsets. As I said in my post last night at Search Engine Land:
The irony or paradox of the Verizon-Microsoft mobile search deal is that smartphones are where most of the mobile search activity is happening today. Yet those are the users that the carriers have the least amount of control over and where the “carrier deck” is either marginal or effectively non-existent. Users may simply open a browser and head to the “mobile internet,” visiting whatever sites and search engines they please.
The Microsoft press release describes the implementation this way:
Depending on which device they use, customers will be able to use voice commands and typed queries and even select to use location-aware searches to receive highly relevant search results, including maps, directions, traffic information, information on local businesses, movie theatres and show times, gas prices and weather. In addition, customers will also get search results that include news and entertainment content such as downloadable full-track songs, videos and games. Verizon Wireless customers will be able to access Microsoft Live Search from a device’s home screen, by downloading an application or through Verizon Wireless’ Mobile Web service.
The deal thus offers a range of consumer-facing dimensions, which include its newly upgraded Live Search client application. Having used the Live Search client extensively in the past I was impressed with it. There were some problems early on with data quality, which goes to the underlying listings database, but those it would appear have been addressed. The client offers a broad range of content types, as well as a voice interface.
There's no question this deal is a huge deal for Microsoft -- literally and figuratively. I'm sure there's a generous revenue share or even revenue guarantees. In addition the opportunity to work collaboratively on advertising -- search AND display -- probably had something to do with Verizon's choice of Microsoft vs. Google. Verizon and Google have also previously been antagonists in connection with the carrier "openness" debate and 700 MHz spectrum auction. So that probably didn't help Google.
Yet, ironically, Verizon will be all but compelled to offer an Android/Google phone in the coming years as all its major carrier rivals introduce them. But that's a separate discussion.
The deal also potentially helps Yellowpages.com, which offers local advertising through Live Search. See, e.g., Boston Hotels:
There's lots of talk these days about "mobile social networking," but what does that mean exactly? Does it mean reading Facebook news feeds via a mobile device or updating Twitter, for example, from a mobile phone? Or does it mean using location-awareness on your phone through an application to interact or communicate with people nearby who are similarly mobile? Of course the two are not mutually exclusive -- and Facebook (and MySpace) will evolve over time to increasingly take mobile and location into account.
But there's nothing necessarily "social" about logging into Facebook from a mobile app. (BTW: the Facebook iPhone app has prompted me to use Facebook more in general.) In one sense accessing Facebook from mobile browser or app is really no different than reading the NY Times or getting restaurant reviews from Yelp on a mobile device. For purposes of this post the central difference between Facebook and the NY Times, conceptually, is that others can potentially respond and "interact" with you on Facebook. In addition, this could hypothetically happen in real time. Right now it's largely asynchronous.
With Loopt, Where's Buddy Beacon, Whrrl and other mobile-centric apps that enable people to "see" one another's locations "on the go" that real-time element is even more pronounced. In other words, I see you're nearby, I send you a message and we meet at a coffee house, etc. Alternatively, I send out a message looking for a nearby restaurant recommendation from my mobile device and get real-time responses from a community of users (e.g., Mosio). Those two scenarios, which involve two-way interaction in real time, should define what we mean by "mobile social networking."
Indeed, two-way communication between people using mobile devices, in real-time, is very different than looking at a website (or logging in) via mobile, regardless of whether it's MySpace, Facebook, Bebo or ConsumerReports. And many people use SMS today in precisely this way. That's why, earlier this year, when we explored the subject, texting appeared for many people as a satisfactory alternative to mobile social networking:
Barriers to 'Mobile Social Networking'
Source: Opus Research/Multiplied Media (n=730, Q1 2008)
Texting thus represents a barrier to the growth of true social networking on mobile devices, unless or until those networking tools become easier, cheaper and more convenient than texting. When they do, SMS volumes may diminish (in favor of mobile IM and/or other tools).
This will all likely turn out to be quibbling over semantics in a very short period of time, as the mobile use of Facebook and MySpace grow and people recognize that as "mobile social networking." But I at least wanted to raise the issue of definitions because it's worth being conscious about what we mean by "mobile social networking" and what features differentiate it from simply accessing a website with social elements on a mobile device.
I ran across this interview of AdMob's European "MD" Thomas Shulz. Here are the interesting bits (verbatim):
Have mobile users been resistant to ads?
Consumers are receptive to advertising on their mobile phones, if it’s done the right way. The strong CTR’s across our network clearly demonstrates this fact. The CTR varies from campaign to campaign, but the UK average is 0.9% for text and 1.25 -1.75% for banner. In addition, it’s worth noting that ads on AdMob’s iPhone network get, on average, triple the CTR of the rest of the network.
Do you have any examples of successful mobile ad campaigns?
AdMob recently worked with Toshiba to reach tech-savvy consumers and offer answers to their computer questions from Toshiba, The Laptop Expert. Toshiba ran banner and text ads in the AdMob network targeted to business travellers.
Toshiba also targeted AdMob’s iPhone network with canvas ads. In one month, AdMob delivered more than 40,000 clicks to Toshiba’s mobile site and more than 1,000 users engaged with their iPhone expandable canvas ad. The success of this campaign suggests that consumers are receptive to advertising on their mobile phone.
Mobile TV is dead, dead, dead. You heard it here first folks.
Anyone who's been reading this blog knows that I'm a detractor of "mobile TV" -- that is, the business model of paying a premium subscription for live TV on your mobile phone. I do however think that mobile video will continue to grow dramatically over time. The issue is: what's the business model?
People are only going to be willing to pay for "mobile TV" as part of an upsell bundle (maybe) or for sports or adult programming. Otherwise, given the quality for most people today, it's not worth it.
But free, ad supported mobile video -- such as what Babelgum is doing in Italy -- is going to become dominant vs. the premium subscription model (e.g., MediaFlo). Consumers are going to go where the video is free. Clips are already free from many mobile sources: YouTube, Joost, Truveo, etc. Expect Hulu to eventually get in the game.
But there are other interesting models and possibilities that might allow for separate fees. One is cable providers starting to offer mobile access to programming as part of a small upsell (or package). Another is what Sling Media is doing, providing mobile access across most smartphone platforms (now BlackBerry is being added). As far as I can tell it comes with your subscription and doesn't involve a separate fee, but this might prompt some people to get the Sling Box.
I imagine a future mobile video landscape that consists of:
Accordingly, the future of mobile TV/video will mostly be free/ad supported.