Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Mobile Revolution Meets the Advertising Legacy!

Although I was born and raised in the USA, I have been living and working in Sweden of most of the last twenty years. During that time I have seen many changes occur in the world of entertainment and media. I remember when I first got to Sweden there where only two TV channels that usually didn’t show programs more than a few a day. One Friday night, during prime time, I watched a documentary on the mating behaviours of horses. It wasn’t bad but not what you would expect to watch with your friends while drinking beer on a Friday night.

When commercial television was finally allowed in Sweden nobody in the advertising industry knew what to do with it. Swedish advertising and media agencies where all about print! This opened a niche for small specialized consulting companies who could advise customers and their agencies on how to use TV. A buddy of mine was very successful in this business and his main qualifications where that he was very smart and he grew up watching commercial TV in the states. With time the advertising community became savvy to TV but it was amazing how long it took for many agencies to seriously include TV as a real part of the media mix.

Some years later commercial radio started up in Sweden and the same process was repeated. Traditional ad and media agencies had no expertise in radio. Specialized “radio” consultancies thrived for years until the advertising environment had adapted to this new media. (I still think radio is highly misunderstood, poorly used and undervalued in Sweden.)

As the internet entered our lives we have seen the same type of conservative approach from the advertising environment. Most agencies still don’t understand the real value of the internet and have little or no in-house competence. If they do have internet competence they typically treat it as a special channel and it is an exception to see campaigns in which the internet is fully integrated.

Now the mobile telephone is lurking on the horizon as the next great new media environment. The question is how long it will take advertising agencies to embrace the opportunities created by the mobile telephone. The mobile phone makes it possible to present the right message, adapted to the customer's situation (place, time, interests, etc) combined with the perfect payment solution. The mobile phone interacts easily with all other media and can turn static two dimensional media like print and billboards into interactive media. Imagine getting customers to run all over town taking photos of billboards in various locations in order to win a backstage pass or a trip to the Bahamas.

The end result will be more cost effective campaigns that target the right customers with the right info at the right time and place which will both increase customer’s satisfaction with the advertiser (and advertising in general) and increase sales.

All in a Day's Work!

The only thing that is worse than throwing your pearls before swine is when the swine reject your pearls!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Unleashing the Power of Mobility!

Everyone knows it is going to happen! Just like at some point everyone knew that the internet was going to fundamentally change the way we work and play! Even during the deepest crash of the internet economy the life of the internet itself was never really in question. The only thing that really crashed about the internet was the business models. Most of us just surfed right through the crash of the internet economy. Some people lost lots of money but most of us just surfed on oblivious to the financial struggles behind the scenes of many internet companies. Many internet sites disappeared but others popped up to replace them and many survived and even thrived.

Now it is happening again! This year the mobile phone celebrates its 50th anniversary. (I am proud to say that my employer played a key role in the creation of the mobile phone). During the past 50 years the mobile phone has revolutionized voice communication as well as the telecom industry. It is fitting then that this youthful 50 year-old stands poised once again to radically change our lifestyle and our industry.

This time the change is taking place in the world of data communication and like before this revolution will have its losers and its heroes. In order to understand the magnitude of this new change you could start by imagining that everything we do on the internet today will be moved into the mobile telephone. That in itself may not seem like such a big deal and in some ways may even be perceived as a weaker version of the internet. After all, who wants to surf the internet on such a little screen and with lower speed than most people have at home or at work. But anyone voicing opinions like this needs to think again!

First of all far from everyone has easy affordable access to the internet. Large parts of the world have little or no access to the internet. The mobile internet will make a powerful contribution to the welfare and quality of life for many people in the world.

In the parts of the world where a large part of the population has easy, affordable access to the internet there are still enormous opportunities that a mobile internet will create. Imagine all the strengths of the internet enhanced by a few key benefits of the mobile phone: Mobility, Positioning, Interactivity and Payment!

Even if the mobile phone can give you internet access where ever you are it is still highly reactive. Users need to go in and search for the pertinent information they are looking for. One advantage of the mobile phone is that it can provide key information to content providers that will help them give users information they want or need before they actually seek it. Drivers can be provided with information about road conditions as they travel down a highway. Spectators can sit in the stadium watching their home team playing football while at the same time viewing highlights on their phones of other matches going on at other places. The alternatives are endless.

Mobile phones can easily turn all kinds of inanimate objects like billboards, beer cans, or newspaper ads into interactive media. Imagine getting customers to run all over town taking pictures with their telephones of the same posters on billboards at various locations in order to win back stage passes or a trip to the Bahamas. Or customers sending in pictures taken with their telephones of a coke can. With today’s picture recognition technology advertisers can cost-effectively identify pictures of one individual poster or coke can without bar codes making it possible to activate brands in exciting new ways.

The mobile phone has the potential to replace the credit card as we know it. The mobile phone could become the primary payment tool in a large part of the world. But if you connect mobile payment together with all the other benefits of mobility, interactivity and positioning, you begin to understand the real power of the mobile phone. The mobile phone makes it easier to target the right customer segments with the right message, to involve the customer in an interactive dialog and finally to execute the transaction.

Imagine the following transaction process:

You receive a video message from your favourite music artist asking if you would like to win tickets to his/her next concert!

Then receiving a free track from the artist’s next album.

Then being offered to purchase the entire album at a special price.

Then being offered free music from similar up and coming artists within the same genre as your favourite artist.

The process can go on for a long time!

Here is another scenario:

Imagine sitting at home watching a James Bond movie on a DVD or via Cable TV. We all know that at some point in time James is going to give the camera a great view of his Omega watch or his SonyEricsson mobile phone. You push a button on your mobile phone and James turns towards you and says “I see you are interested in my watch. This is the new Omega etc, etc, etc! For those of you watching this movie you can get a 10% discount on the watch and it will be delivered to your door tomorrow.” You push another button on your phone and the watch is charged to your telephone bill and you continue watching the movie. The next day you get your watch!

To paraphrase Kotler: Customers who get the right product for the right price, when and where they want it are satisfied! The mobile phone makes this easier than it has ever been!