The Innovation Game
During her presentation, Amanda Rosenberg, Google’s associate business development manager of mobile for EMEA, showcased a range of advances on mobile, such as the Google mobile homepage with local business results for search and discovery; intelligent voice search; conversational voice translation; Google Goggles and Google weather. Its ‘Chrome to Phone’ service, thought up by an engineer on a transatlantic flight, lets Android owners seamlessly push links, maps, and currently selected text and phone numbers to their devices for a seamless desktop to mobile user experience.
It was clear that being able to share information easily ranks highly on Google’s approach to mobile, with Near Field Communications (NFC) being demonstrated as a way to share web pages between devices. Rosenberg also showcased the ability to activate a mobile element with traditional advertising, simply by touching a device to an ad in a magazine, as well as Buick’s use of Goggles in the US for an innovative image recognition advertising campaign.
Continuing in the vein of innovation, Stephen Yap, group director of TNS Technology, spoke about how mobile allows for market research to be collected without causing disruption to participant’s work or social time. This, he said, brought with it advantages over other forms of market research such as face-to-face, telephone and even desktop web panels that all require respondents to interrupt their daily activity.
Next for mobile market research, according to Yap, is location-based targeting with real time tracking to contact respondents. When they leave a coffee shop, for example, the targeting would invite them to provide feedback about the experience. This, Yap explained, would mean that they get real-time responses to campaigns. A further option includes facial recognition utilising the front-facing camera found in most smartphones to analyze facial reactions to stimuli as they watch adverts or TV. Also of interest was the potential to use biometric data through small pads to collect skin conductance to gather people’s physical reactions in real-time wherever they are.
Of course, central to all of these strategies is privacy and the need to ensure permission from participants when carrying out such research. Once these concerns are managed and addressed though, Yap believes that, “Innovation through mobile will be the sweet spot.”
Next up was Russell Buckley, ex-AdMob and former MMA Global Chairman, and now chief marketing officer at Eagle Eye Solutions. Explaining to the audience that, “By 2036, if you applied the exponential growth theory to mobile, our phones will be the size of a red blood cell with a billion times more power than the current top-end smart devices”, Buckley went onto talk about his new passion: coupons. Among the five leading FMCG brands in the UK, only two per cent of their marketing budgets are spent on digital, said Buckley. This, he said, “is where mobile barcodes can come in to connect online content with the real world”.
As mobile barcodes can be used across a range of devices, they don’t require retailers to buy new technology to read codes, but can, for example, use chip and pin machines to redeem promotions. Mobile coupons, Buckley explained, are “the way to connect the shopping basket to the campaign and back again, whilst also providing data mining and analysis in real-time”.
The final speaker on stage was Chris Carmichael, manager of technology innovation at British Airways, who confessed that the company’s first foray into mobile in 2000 was cancelled after just one year. It was only after they noticed dramatic rises in traffic to their website during times of bad weather that they realised that their customers truly are mobile.
This led the company to respond quickly, and develop its mobile platforms which have now led to 85 per cent of BA’s flights now accepting mobile boarding passes, and offering support for the four leading mobile operating platforms.
The key to all of this, Carmichael said, was to remove anything that wasn’t essential to the mobile journey and ensure that the result was intuitive to use. For BA’s apps, this meant that, should customers want to upgrade their flights from their phones, it shouldn’t take more than three clicks. A further necessity was to provide customers with a personal, relevant and easy-to-use platform where the app revolves around their travel needs.
In terms of the future, BA wants to extend the customer journey beyond the flight or airport, to provide what could be a personal travel assistant that ensures that BA is always in consumers’ pockets. When asked what Carmichael would do with an unlimited budget, his priorities were to improve how the company sells via mobile, and to make the process of getting on the plane seamless.
This was another thought-provoking Brand & Agency Briefing session that left delegates in no doubt about the sustained ongoing level of innovation in mobile. Long may it continue.
Paul Berney is chief marketing officer and EMEA managing director of the Mobile Marketing Association