iPhone applications are great, but most marketers will wait until there is a significant audience (Carling Application Image – Courtesy of Gizmodo)
By RJ Bardsley and Derek Brookmeyer
RaceTalk got the chance to sit down with Mobile Marketer editor Mickey Alam Khan last week to talk about everything that’s happening in the brave new world of mobile marketing. We walked away from the interview with some great insight into the mobile web ecosystem and what’s in store for marketers, journalists and content publishers as the mobile web goes mainstream.
Here are five key takeaways from the conversation:
1 – It’s good to experiment
While experimenting might not always be a good thing when it comes to used cars and second-rate sushi restaurants, it’s definitely a good thing to do with your marketing mix – especially in this economic environment.
The shift in media consumption has got many brands moving away from traditional broadcast and print spots and looking for new online marketing strategies. Mickey says that mobile should be part of a 365 degree strategy that integrates traditional marketing and advertising elements with online and mobile components.
Marketers need to begin building relationships with their consumers via the mobile phone. Good marketers have spent years building trusted relationships with consumers online and they need to extend those relationships over the handset – whether through SMS or mobile web programs. The key to this, says Mickey, is building an opt-in database of consumers who want to communicate over the handset. Bank of America and Orbitz are two examples of brands that have built stellar mobile programs.
2 – Format vs. Content -What Happens on the Mobile Web doesn’t Necessarily Stay on the Mobile Web
For brands making the leap onto the mobile web there can be a lot of questions – a lot of marketers are wondering if they need to build a separate WAP site or iPhone application to build a mobile presence. The answer is that content doesn’t need to change, but format should be well suited for easy access by a handheld device. Mickey pointed out two beautiful mobile web sites – mobile.nytimes.com and mobile.time.com as examples of well constructed mobile sites.
Mobile websites should be easy to navigate; highlight important information in an easy-to-read way; and make top-level landing pages light on data so they render quickly over a cellular connection.
3 – Gap Time and the New Face of Journalism
When we asked Mickey about how he thought the move to the mobile web was going to impact journalism he had some interesting thoughts. Content will continue to be what brings people onto the mobile web, but that content will be different than what people look for on the traditional web. Mobile browsers will look for quick pieces of news that fill in the “gap time” in their day – while they’re waiting for the train or stuck in traffic. News is a key component of mobile content, but for the most part people want quick bits of information – Nobody clicks to page two on a handheld device.
4 – Who’s pushing the boundaries of the Mobile Web today -Nokia and Yahoo – and others
A lot of folks in the industry have named their top influencers in mobile. So who are Alam Khan’s? Right off the bat there’s #1 Apple, #2 Google, #3 RIM, #4 eBay and #5 Nokia. The first three are there for obvious reasons, however eBay (a surprise to us) is up there because of their huge play in mobile commerce and Nokia is on the list not necessarily just because of their play in handsets, but because of their rise in other areas of mobile including advertising, music and software. But wait.. we can’t forget Yahoo! who would probably actually rank between Apple and Google in the #2 spot. Their influence centers around the fact that they understand content better than any other company out there Alam Khan attributes Yahoo’s influence to guys like Marco Boerries, David Katz and Bruce Stewart who recently left to become CEO of kgb’s mobile division.
5 – iPhone apps – it’s great but marketers will wait until there is a significant audience
When it comes to mobile over the last six months, the availability and rise in popularity of third-party iPhone applications has been at the height of the buzz. However, the question that still remains is how and when will they be monetized and will it be a successful component of mobile marketing? According to Alam Khan, despite the buzz, the audience for iPhone applications is still small. Once audiences for the applications are established, there is potential for monetization. A piece of advice for those ready to experiment with marketing via the iPhone: link your mobile marketing campaign to your online. Look for marketing on the iPhone to gain traction next year, says Alam Khan.