The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s first-ever IAB Leadership Forum: Mobile delivered rich, timely information on one of the hottest topics in interactive media. Designed to demystify the mobile marketplace while delivering insight into practical solutions, the event attracted more than 300 interactive industry professionals to the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City on Monday, July 21, 2008.
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Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, opened the event with a provocative notion: the mobile advertising marketplace has finally come of age. He referenced the cliché that has predominated for the last ten years—mobile is the next big thing. When will it happen? Well, it has happened, Rothenberg said. And that became clear throughout the day. Indeed, Rothenberg said, we are moving to a three screen universe. That means marketers and agencies are able to reach increasingly mobile consumers, giving them information when they want and where they want– this is no longer the future. It is the here and now.
Maria Mandel’s theme throughout the keynote address was that mobile has the greatest possibilities as an advertising channel because mobile devices – particularly, the cell phone but also Blackberrys and interactive PDAs – are the most important devices that people have in their lives. Next to their keys, people always carry their cell phones and other mobile devices. Plus, this equipment is virtually always on.
Next up was the first panel of the day, Mobile Marketing Success Stories. Several common threads could be pulled from these case studies with the overriding point: success has come in areas that might surprise those with rigid, pre-set assumptions.
Gary Schwartz, President and CEO of Impact Mobile, kicked off the Mobile as a Unique Marketing Platform for Traditional Media panel by asserting that the cell phone can be viewed as a mouse, a clickable device that connects consumers directly to a more traditional Internet-based or offline advertising campaign. Panel members pointed out that there still is much more supply than demand – that is, more cell phone bandwidth and not enough advertisers yet – principally because for individual campaigns there are few metrics to monitor how well these promotional efforts are doing. But for brands that have multiple platforms from which to view consumers, these campaigns offer advertisers a vast amount of insight into consumer choices and it offers consumers a valuable and simple way to connect more closely to the products and brands they prefer.
Later in the day, Mickey Alam Kham, editor in chief of Mobile Marketer, led a panel called Meet the Publishers, which explored the role mobile advertising plays in content publishing. All of the panelists – each from a major content publisher – agreed that some of the most exciting advertising activities are coming through the mobile channel.
For the next session, David Doty, Senior Vice President of Thought Leadership and Marketing for the IAB, invited attendees to hear succinct five-minute presentations from a rotating series of mobile solutions providers. The day encompassed many long-form panels, but here several dozen firms from Microsoft Mobile Advertising to Nokia presented the essence of their offerings in what amounted to a business version of speed dating. Said Doty: “No fluff, all meat, all meaning.”
Randy Zadra, visiting fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, led the panel on Carriers and the Mobile Marketing Ecosystem: Accelerating Access. He posited initially that bound by their size and tradition, telephone carriers were long staid, nearly immovable organizations. Thanks to mobile marketing, though, they currently stand at the headwaters of cultural and commercial change, both within their own organizations and society at large.
The last panel of the day was in many ways a wrap up of all of the very conversations held at the IAB Mobile Leadership Forum. Led by Linda Barrabee, Program Manager, Consumer Research, Mobile Entertainment, Yankee Group, the panel called a Fireside Chat, Research and the Future, Truth or Dare began with the most persistent question of the day: “Where are we in respect to engagement beyond voice on the cell phone; what are consumers doing on their phone?” Barrabee asked.
The day concluded with a lively networking reception to discuss the knowledge gained throughout the day. Attendees walked away feeling empowered from the new insights shared and motivated to continue exploring mobile as an advertising tool.