The Future is Going Mobile, Are You?

Ed Vaizey MP at IAB Engage 2011 Ed Vaizey MP at IAB Engage 2011

I attended yesterday’s IAB Engage conference in London this year for the first time.

A chance meeting earlier in the year with Amit Kotecha, Mobile and Networks Manager at the IAB, we co-presented at Brand Republic’s Social Media Strategy 2011, introduced me to the IAB.

From an advertisers perspective it’s a fantastic organisation with training and many conferences on offer, for free.

IAB Engage is the event of the year for online marketeers, this year a celebrity interview with Dara O Briain,  and guest speakers from AOL, Google, Microsoft and many more, it’s a not to be missed event.

All of the presentations were solid, even Ed Vaizey MP gave a good performance, once he was able to get off his formal speech the Twitter feed finally gave him a break. The controversial EU Cookie Directive played a major part of his delivery, with a clear message that we need to find a way to implement this act, like it or not. (Sorry, I don’t).

Andy Hart & The Socks Andy Hart & The Socks

Other than the Twitter discussion around Andy Hart’s socks and the fantastic presentation from futurologist Roman Weish?upl, the underlying theme was heavily mobile.

Social Media is by no doubt a major force in online, and offline, marketing. It’s also here to stay. But implementation in a mobile environment is to be the golden egg.

Much of the technology demoed, Lego’s Augmented Reality App, the Junaios App,  RexBox’s Epic Win and the exciting Goldrun used by fashion retailer H&M featured mobile devices as the central component to offline activity in marketing campaigns.

The huge Smirnoff campaign, presented by Michelle Klein, Vice President of Content, Digital & Communications, Smirnoff, Diageo, included location based elements as leverage for engagement.

Pete Robins at IAB Engage 2011 Pete Robins at IAB Engage 2011

Yet many agencies are not geared up for this mobile invasion, or the integrated campaigns that gain traction with consumers. The reliance on trying to ‘crow bar‘ existing ad campaigns into the online and mobile space will just not translate.

As Pete Robins, Managing Partner at agenda21, put it, “We need to look at mobile in a new way. We need to discover unique ways to engage with users whilst delivering ROI for advertisers.”

Many mobile marketing models rely heavily on check-ins, QR Codes, SMS or other forms of simplistic communication. The answer is often seen in an App, yet undefined, and unoriginal. We could do worse than to create think tanks within our companies or our agencies, it’s that important.

We need to, urgently device ways to leverage mobile as the consumer expectation to be fulfilled moves to the streets. One big hurdle is connectivity. I have spoken in the past about WiFi access for all and at IAB Engage it was obvious that this loop hole hadn’t been considered by many. As many agencies are based in city centres, they don’t experience the lack of connectivity that we experience in rural locations.

Once we have connectivity resolved, or rather at the same time, we need to ensure we can deliver content in a mobile friendly format. Users expectation will be to see, not only content relevant to them, but also relevant to their location. QR Codes are almost a dirty form of promotion requiring the printing of a splodge on the item to be scanned, much better is the image recognition of the Junaio App; the challenge letting the user know they can scan the item in the first place.

Apps are everywhere and there were certainly no shortage of them presented at the event. Costly to produce and multiple platforms to consider, there must be a better way. Technically HTML 5 may offer some answers, but it will remain an obstacle if we insist users download applications to view our marketing genius.

As conferences should, for me IAB Engage 2011 raised as many questions as it did answers. What was clear was that the rate of change in technology has Microsoft, Apple and Google on it’s toes, so smaller, less technically advanced brands are going to need help.

Innovation will come from those that focus on it, investing time and money. The rewards are many. Failure to stay with the market will result in bland, mediocre marketing, delivering the same messages just on different platforms.

Looking forward to IAB Engage 2012 I hope to see many of these mobile issues realised and applied. I hope to have answers myself, maybe even be one of those helping to provide the answers.

Were you at IAB Engage? Or do you have a vision of a mobile future? If you have an opinion please let’s discuss it below.

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