Recapping the 2014 M1Summit

by Ani Jigarjian

The 2014 M1 Summit was a well-attended, enthusiastic mobile conference that brought together mobile marketers, developers, mobile heads of companies and all sorts of other people – from law firms to integrated marketing agencies. m1summit

There were a few common themes, but one I continue to be pleased with hearing about is the big C. It’s all about the Customer. Not only is the customer always right, but the customer also holds the keys to your brand’s success. It’s the job of every brand to go research and understand where their customers are living and breathing, especially in this world of mobile.

Proof? “The most important thing is to be driven by customer needs,” said Ken Chernault, CEO of American Express, who is known for giving  customers choices. There is a huge customer service opportunity, mentioned Chernault, and he strongly encouraged all financial institutions of all sizes to take action in order to make the customer’s life easier and more pleasant (and hint, hint: increase your brand loyalist numbers). Chernault put it best when he said, “it’s expensive for consumers to be poor.” From transaction fees to fees that are charged when cashing checks, millions of people live paycheck to paycheck and continue to get slammed with charges. He opened up about some of the things American Express is doing, with mobile especially, to help the consumers.

We all know that American Express is a Fortune 500 company and is able to implement innovation and continually reinvent itself, but what about startups? Chernault had a nice tip, stating that startups must realize the opportunity they have to redefine the power of mobile. “This is an environment where you innovate or die,” said Chernault. Read more about Chernault and what American Express is doing to lead the way in mobile in this Fortune article from the M1 Summit.

Raj Aggarwal, Co-Founder & CEO of Localytics talked about the mobile user and how they must be viewed holistically, not in silos. Mark Ghermezian, Co-Founder & CEO of Appboy talked about the importance of personalized experiences and the next phase post customer acquisition. What do you do once you’ve signed up customers who are interested in using your app? The next challenge (and the real test) is how to keep them engaged and want to use your product so it becomes part of their regular routine. Aggarwal also predicts that all websites will eventually become web apps. The browser will still live, but apps will most definitely accompany.

L to R: Michael Katz, Co-Founder & CEO, mParticle; Raj Aggarwal, Co-Founder & CEO, Localytics; Serge Kassardjian, Android Business Development, Google; Laura Marriott, CEO, NeoMedia Technologies; Bo Yaghmaie, Partner, Cooley LLP

L to R: Michael Katz, Co-Founder & CEO, mParticle; Raj Aggarwal, Co-Founder & CEO, Localytics; Serge Kassardjian, Android Business Development, Google; Laura Marriott, CEO, NeoMedia Technologies; Bo Yaghmaie, Partner, Cooley LLP

Esther Lee, SVP of Brand and Marketing at AT&T spoke about the challenges of being a marketer; The convergence of technology and marketing as well as the future. She made an interesting point about technology, saying that at different points – whether it was the beginning of the smartphone or the boom of mobile apps, there was this love story with technology. Everyone fell in love with the newness, the excitement, the accessibility, the content that was available, the variety, the buzz, etc. However, fast forward to today, and the consumer is so overwhelmed. Content is everywhere. There are a million apps being thrown at the consumer and there’s a strong sense of confusion. In Esther’s words, “the evolution of capabilities is outpacing the digital literacy of people.” The challenge is to stand out and do so with value add and personal experiences.

Shiv Singh, SVP of Brand & Marketing at Visa was another favorite. When it came to mobile advertising, he was brutally honest and blunt. He called most mobile ads, pesky (check out this tumblr: And, I couldn’t agree more. There’s an aggression behind the ads that is so infuriating – whether it’s difficulty finding the “skip ad,”, “hide,” or that sought after “X,” icon, it always feels like the advertiser is trying to be something they’re not. Or they’re misleading. Either way, it doesn’t end well because it’s extremely ineffective. The state of mobile advertising is that it’s not impacting or influencing consumers. His advice: next time you think about mobile advertising, start with the premise that it does not work. Mobile brands must always remember that relationships are built over time, not in a single experience. In Shiv’s words, “A brand is competing with every other consumer experience.” So, there you have it. Oh wait, I have to share the nightmare example he shared about a Target ad popping up while browsing Wal-Mart’s website. Yep….

So, in short, this Coachella of mobile was a happening event, highlighting all of the exciting opportunities in the world of mobile. It all lies in the hands of these talented company heads, marketers and developers. But more importantly, most of these companies are looking to hone in on their customer’s lifestyles and interests and allow their brands to be guided by what their specific wants and needs are. A brand’s customer is the future of a company and it was refreshing to hear the majority of these companies discuss the importance of the user’s experience and how they will continue to improve and evolve with these consumers. Cheers to that.

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