Brave New World
What will power the next great cycle of mobile innovation? The core value inherent in the mobile internet, and the unifying element of many separate technologies, is a concept we call Mobile Presence. This is technically based, but not about technology or even commerce. Crucially, it is about experience, and a quality, not a technology. Enabled by a set of emerging technologies - user-specific, geospatially aware, self-learning, cloud-based, pervasive, visual, social, and real time - the experience will allow people in motion to work in concert with technology to efficiently streamline the flow of their communications, content, and commercial transactions.
It transforms search from a laborious, manual process into an autonomous, largely background process. Only the most relevant social and business communications, content, and commerce are intelligently routed to you. This is all based on an organic, dynamic profile that includes your personal and social interests. In addition, it also shows your physical location and the time of day. This is in context of your recent actions, such as browsing habits, messaging content, media content consumed, and products bought.
Therefore, if you’re a busy executive, this is how your life will change: your inbox remains relatively clear, because the hundreds of emails, tweets, online posts, texts, and voicemails you receive are autonomously filtered and prioritised, according to the inner circle of your social and business networks. The outer circle of messages is moved to a secondary queue, which is handled by an associate.
As your inner circle changes according to projects, priorities, and location, the sorting process yields different results, because the sorting is not the result of inflexible pre-set rules, but is intelligent and dynamic. When you travel to another office, for example, the geospatial proximity filter begins to include email from that office’s leadership team; friends and associates receive an alert that you are in town, for how long, and when you might be free.
In advance of each business meeting, a brief with hyperlinks pops up on your Tablet, summarising newly-updated information about the person, recent news items, the purpose and desired outcome of the meeting, and other relevant information. All of it is collected and analysed intelligently and autonomously.
The flow of messages, which you check from time to time, remains light and highly relevant. Furthermore, whether travelling or at home, you receive highly relevant promotions, such as for nearby restaurants, based on your tastes and price range.
Your daily routine leads to traffic alerts and notices about the cheapest place to buy petrol. Your alarm clock resets when a traffic accident forces a major detour in your route. You are reminded of important events such as birthdays and anniversaries - not just that the date is approaching but what gifts might be appropriate for the recipient, based on your earlier purchases.
All this is Mobile Presence. Its premise is that people should get meaning, not just data, from the mobile internet. It has limitless commercial potential. For advertisers, marketers, and content and service providers, Mobile Presence enables the distribution and consumption of information, media, and services with unprecedented relevance. The distribution of hyper-local, hyper-personal and hyper-social information means that advertising, in particular, is no longer an intrusion, but a value-added service. Most people see traditional advertising as pollution, and as such, dislike it. It is a transformative moment when ads can help, rather than intrusively annoy, people. However, adverts based on Mobile Presence create a highly differentiated offering.
Hyper-locality will enormously increase the response rate. Most advertisers would kill to know of someone who loves their product, and who is within a kilometre of their shop. With Mobile Presence, advertisers will have very precise demographic and geographic information about potential customers. Instead of “click and hope,” advertisers will believe they know the prospect. A merchant, whether it is the corner deli, the jean shop, or the Italian restaurant, will be able to advertise to a precise demographic in its own backyard. Advertising’s value is in its relevance, and Mobile Presence provides acuity of relevance.
Advertisers want better information about prospects, and verifiable returns for their money. With much higher response rates, more companies will advertise, particularly small ones that previously lacked the confidence to. Here is my prediction: Mobile Presence will shift a significant proportion of advertising to pay on performance. Instead of the advertiser paying a fee each time a user clicks on an ad, the advertiser will pay a much larger fee - but only when a customer buys the product. Many more firms will advertise if the opportunity is great and the risk is zero. The sharing of risk and reward by ad agencies with their clients will lead to a surge in advertising.
Local merchants also will benefit from the instantaneous and hyper-local nature of Mobile Presence-based commerce. The jeans dealer, for instance, could decide on a Saturday morning, without having planned a campaign, to go on an ad exchange and immediately launch a local ad. It would be broadcast to the correct demographic close to the store, promoting a one-hour special of perhaps 25 per cent off all products.
In a 6bn-person mobile market, hyper personalisation means one-to-one marketing. It is this highly personal targeting that will enable Mobile Presence services to monetise their products. It is not just the advertisers who gain from this experience. Consumers benefit in a multitude of ways from a holistic experience around a purchase. As a result, all the companies in the value chain benefit from much more targeted products, a higher success rate in sales, and more satisfied customers.
Partnerships among travel companies, media outlets, and other information providers will boom, because meaningful information can be directly tied to time, location, and context. Entrepreneurs who focus on Mobile Presence will develop maximum value for their company and investors. The opportunity of Mobile Presence rests upon four pillars: identity, security, geospatial, and social. When all four are fully developed, the doors of the kingdom will open.
Robert Marcus is chairman and CEO of mobile internet investment banking firm, QuantumWave Capital, and author of The Fifth Wave: A Strategic Vision for Mobile Internet Innovation, Investment, & Return