CARNIVAL of the MOBILISTS 172 MOBILESTANCE DOT COM bMobilestance is proud to host the 172nd edition of the Carnival of the Mobilists

For the uninitiated, the Carnival of the Mobilists is a weekly roundup of the very best in mobile writings from across the blogosphere.   It’s been over a year since we last hosted the Carnival, and we’re happy to say that it’s still going strong… with over a dozen of posts to choose from we’ve got our work cut out for us, so let’s get started!

iPhone iPhone iPhone.  If all the frenzy around last week’s Verizon iPhone rumor mill got you wondering what that might look like check out Why an iPhone Deal with Verizon Wireless Would Be Cool.  What’s that?  Had enough iPhone hype for one week?  Then give a read to The Others: Where Android, Symbian and Limo Are to satisfy your fix of “All Things (not) iPhone.” Proof that there’s life beyond that shinny little game changer from Cupertino.  Both are courtesy of Volker on Mobile Entertainment.

App Haps. If monetization of mobile apps turns you on, then head over to About Mobility and check out On Mobile Applications, Platforms and Monetization -“Show me the Money.” A very well thought out piece that really puts the space(s) through the paces.  So good in fact, it’s our POST OF THE WEEK.  Nice job, CEO – really top shelf!

Allaboutiphone.net does a great job breaking down why barcode scanning is easier on Android than it is on iPhone in Barcode Scanning and Shopping with the iPhone, including some alternative approaches developers have taken to work around limitations in the current iPhone SDK.  Hopefully things will change with the release of the “new batch of iPhone goodies” heavily rumored to come out this June/July?

Finally,  Wild Illusions lays down some quality coverage of the medical App and services landscape in Mobile Pearls vol. IV: Mobile Healthcare Edition.  This sector is about to explode with the release of iPhone 3.0 this summer and its support of external hardware, so a very timely post to be sure.

Mobile Marketing & Advertising.  Over at London Calling: the Mobile Advertising Blog you’ll find a mobile marketing cautionary tale worth reading, or – why marketers need to REALLY pay attention to privacy in mobile, and not just give it the lip service that usually passes for “privacy concerns” in other digital channels. Consequently, it’s experiences like what’s described in this post that have informed my decision to never do business with SMS list brokers, regardless of what they tell me of of double, triple or even quadruple opt-in.  Sorry list-brokers, not only do I just don’t believe you, but all that opt-in language largely misses the point that consumers aren’t ready for most mobile push tactics, period.

A pair of posts on those aggregators of mobile ad inventory many seem to love to hate (myself not included!).  Mjelly has a nice post on The Rise of Mobile Network Aggregators while Mobile Broadband Blog makes some good points in iPhone – a Boon to AdMob.

Mobile Web.  Open Gardens publishes a piece on Harnessing Digital Footprints – the Dark Side of Web 2.o, while Dennis at over at WapReview posted a terrific review of dot mobi’s WordPress plug-in for mobilizing WP blogs.  The Dot Mobi WP plug-in looks fab and I can’t wait to try it out (mobilestance is also a WordPress site)… although if it means updating my WP I might have to pass.

Handsets and Hardware.  Only one post this week on the hardware side of the house, but it’s a real gem in “From MotoLozr to MotoRcvr via MotoTxtr: How to Prevent the Slo-Mo Suicide of Moto the Grand” from Communities Dominate Brands.  In this age of commonplace bankrupcies of iconic American brands like Chrysler and Citibank, this is a very well thought out, well written and poignant piece on the OEM so close to our hearts.  Our RUNNER UP FOR POST OF THE WEEK, and just by a hair!

Data & Resources. Anyone in need of a place to start in mobile SEO should check out The Place to Be: Mobile Search Engines and Portals Where You Should Register Your Site, while Little Springs Design gives a great update in Inspiring Articles in Mobile Design.

Chetan Sharma drops a new version of the thoroughly comprehensive Global Wireless Data Update.  Everything you always wanted to know about ARPU, but were afraid to ask!  Speaking of comprehensive… Ubiquitous Thoughts, in “It’s Been a Busy Time for Mobile Learning, but a Good Time,” pulls together a ton of great resources for those in the Mobile Learning space.

So there you have it.  Carnival #172 in all it’s glory. A shout out to next week’s carnival host, RadVision VoIP Survivor… and as always, to get in on all the hot blog-on-blog action submit your mobile-related stories to: mobilists [at] gmail [dot] com.

us-mobile-media-audience-copy.jpgAccording to the latest release from M:Metrics, US mobile subs are more actively consuming mobile media than their counterparts in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Denmark. While the male-focused piece, entitled “The Way to A Man’s Heart is Through His Mobile Phone”, was well publicized in the major trade press for its key story that men respond twice as frequently to SMS offers as women do (9% to 4%, respectively), a less emphasized set of data points seem far more interesting to those who have had their fill of the “US as Mobile Laggard” story.

The piece points out that “U.S. mobile users are more active consumers of mobile media, as unlike Europeans they use SMS less frequently for news and information retrieval and are more likely to have data plans, which directly impacts mobile content consumption.” While anecdotally this seems fair enough (it would make sense that the highly web-centric US pop would be less enamored of SMS-based media and search services in favor of the more familiar browser-based approach), what is more striking that the US has achieved a higher percentage of mobile media usage while considerably lagging behind many markets in both 3G and smartphone penetration – both considered fairly-reliable leading indicators of mobile media use.

Does this mean that Americans will considerably out pace Europeans in mobile media usage if and when the US catches up to the rest of the planet in terms of 3G and smartphone penetration? Perhaps… either that, or it could be that we’ve be led astray by erroneous data fed by survey-based research methodology (wouldn’t be the first time). Ultimately, more research is needed before a conclusion can be drawn, but certainly the data is encouraging for the US mobile media market.

emarketer-advertising-report-copy.jpgReport Identifies US Market, Messaging and “Mobile Subsidized by Advertising” as Hottest Areas.

As inevitable as the changing of the seasons comes another mobile advertising report from eMarketer. The report carries the subtitle “After the Growing Pains,” although “A Prelude to Growing Pains” might have been a more apt tagline.

As with earlier eMarketer reports, the work contains an analysis of primary and (mostly) secondary research relating to the global mobile advertising market, along with a smattering of quotes from industry heavyweights and all-stars. While most of the research cited in the piece comes from reputable, independent third party sources, the quality of the data varies from section to section, and becomes somewhat corrupted by several sources containing obvious lack of independence (such as data from Third Screen Media on the “Average Price for a Mobile Marketing Campaign,” or AdMob’s report on “Worldwide Mobile Advertising Impressions”). While interesting and no doubt impressive on an anecdotal level, such data unfortunately cannot be viewed as objective research.

Market size. Fascinatingly, eMarketer deems the US as the most dynamic region for mobile web advertising due to “its position as the largest interactive economy.” While we have no data that directly contradicts this conclusion, it would seem likely that other global regions where mobile data services are far more utilized (Asia-Pac, Europe and Latin America), would be more attractive from an mobile advertising standpoint.

emarketer-1.jpgThe report identifies 2012 as the year that Asia-Pac will usurp the US in total mobile marketing spending “largely due to the huge middle classes in China and India who use mobile as their primary interactive screen.” Indeed, the middle class in BRIC nations is “expected to double between 2006 and 2009, and [is projected to] reach a total of one billion people in 2015. That will match or even exceed the total combined population of the US, Western Europe and Japan.”

The report breaks down mobile advertising budgets into three areas: messaging, mobile display and search (other areas of mobile advertising, such as in-game or video, are deemed to small to be measurable). The search category also counts dollars spent on sponsored directory assistance, which explains why search budgets eclipsed mobile display dollars in 2007 $83 MM to $52 MM, respectively. Overall, global mobile advertising spending is projected to rise to $19,149 MM in 2012, from $2,695 MM in 2007. eMarketer has Messaging-related campaigns dominating mobile budgets through 2012, although declining from 95% of all mobile ad spending in 2007 to a projected 74% of budgets in 2012.

Mobile Advertising by Region. While lagging behind most of the word in terms of mobile penetration, eMarketer purports that the US is currently the largest mobile advertising market, with total 2007 spending estimated at $878 MM (projected to $6,525 MM by 2012). Mobile ad buying is said to be driven by digital ad buying shops here in the US.

emarket-usa-budgets.jpgemarket-w-europe.jpgemarket-asia-pac-spends.jpgThe report cites Western Europe as (currently) the second largest mobile advertising market ($1,074 MM in 2007 to $5,550 in 2012). Asia-pac, currently at $700 MM, is projected to move into second place in 2012 (with mobile adverting spends in the region expected to rise to $6,877 MM by the time the next year of the dragon rolls around).

While growth in the Asian markets is primarily viewed as a function the overall economic growth on the region (this, coupled with the fact that the mobile handset is seen as the primary internet device in Asia), the story in Western Europe is muddied a bit by the largely unknown effects of flat-rate / “unlimited” data plans (currently being rolled out by Vodafone, T-Mobile, Orange and 3UK), as well as the over-sized pre-paid mobile population in Europe as compared to other regions (it is believed by some that pre-paid users are more accepting of mobile advertising). Lack of 3G network capacity is identified as the main reason that messaging is (and will continue to) dominate mobile ad budgets. That said, the US mobile web population is expected to grow from 37.9 MM in 2007 to 91.7 MM in 2012 (unfortunately research in the the measuring mobile web penetration in markets such as Japan, China Australia and the UK is relatively out-of-date, with some sources going as far back as 4Q 2005!).

emarket-sms-response-global.jpgemarket-mobile-attitude.jpgConsumer Attitude. The report cites a September 2007 Neilsen Mobile report examining global exposure and response to SMS-based advertising. Overall, the now well-known study cites relatively high SMS advertising exposure and response numbers, although (predictably) response rates decline in nearly a linear fashion as exposure to SMS advertising increases (on a market-by-market basis). Specifically, the study found that “58 Million US mobile subscribers has been exposed to a mobile ad during a 30-day period. This equates to about 23% of the total US mobile population. Moreover, nearly half (or 28 million) reported that they had responded at least once to a mobile ad. Nielsen Mobile also reported that 32% of those surveyed said they would accept mobile advertising if it somehow lowered their overall mobile bill, while 13% would accept advertising if it improved the selection of mobile content and services.”

Consumer affinity towards the “Advertising Supported Mobile Services” model is somewhat supported in additional research by the Online Publishers Association which examines consumer attitudes toward mobile advertising in the US and UK. While consumers in the UK overwhelmingly prefer a model whereby mobile advertising is subsidizing the cost of mobile services, US consumers simply “like [an] ad when something free is offered.” Generally speaking, it is hardly surprising that consumers (in any market) like stuff for free!

gumiyo-1sm.jpgPlatform Integrates Local Dealer Inventories and CRM systems with Mobile Web, SMS.

In a little-noticed move that is poised to significantly raise the profile of mobile marketing in the US automotive industry, Gumiyo, a mobile marketing company based in Woodland Hills, CA, announced a partnership with HomeNet, Inc., a provider of vehicle inventory management and marketing solutions, to provide auto dealers with a turn-key mobile Web marketing solution. A wireline web version of the service, dubbed the “Gumiyo Marketplace,” is also available.

The new service integrates HomeNet’s Inventory Online (IOL) Marketing Suite with Gumiyo’s mobile marketing platform, allowing prospective buyers access to a dealership’s detailed inventory listings, vehicle photos and Carfax reports via SMS and the mobile web. The solution enables consumers to connect directly with dealers, and vice-versa, to schedule test drives follow-up correspondence. Additional options include vehicle search based on make, model, price and geographic location and SMS alerts informing consumers when a car matching their criteria becomes available.

Dealerships are given a unique “GO Code” (SMS keyword) that can be utilized in print, radio, TV and other off-line media as a call to action (consumers responding via the Go Code / shortcode mechanic receive a WAP push MT message leading to the dealership’s specific mobile web site). The dealer’s mobile URL follows the nomenclature of “Go Code.gumiyo.com.” Additionally, consumers can text the GO Code of the dealership + the last 8 digits of the VIN to receive a WAP push MT to the vehicle’s specific mobile web page. Click-2-call/Click-2-Callback, SMS and email all facilitate dealership contact, and the platform’s lead generation channels (both SMS and mobile web form fields) can be integrated directly into the dealership’s CRM systems if desired.

According to the release, “HomeNet’s Inventory Online (IOL) Marketing Suite currently serves more than 12,000 automotive dealership locations throughout the United States and Canada, processing over 2.5 million vehicles each day.” HomeNet’s will be offering the new mobile service as a plus-up to their existing data / CRM package.

Analysis. The combination of Gumiyo’s robust mobile platform with HomeNet’s large install base results in a powerful market force that seems both effective, and relatively simple and inexpensive to set-up and maintain. In a word: scalable – something that has eluded most mobile marketing business models of late. Mobile ad networks (especially those with lots of local, geo-targeted inventory) now have a new big base of potential mobile media buyers! First order of business: track down HomeNet’s install base!

Screengrabs of the Gumiyo Mobile Automotive Marketplace (click on thumbnails for larger images):

gumiyo-1.jpggumiyo-2.jpggumiyo-3.jpggumiyo-4.jpggumiyo-5.jpg

carnival-logo-copy.jpgWelcome to Carnival of the Mobilists #117, the greatest posts on mobility from across the blogosphere – hosted for the first time on mobilestance.com.

With so many excellent posts this week it was difficult to pick a favorite, but after much hand-wringing and great gnashing of teeth, we’ve chosen Matt’s post on gaming over at AllAboutiPhone.net.

Honorable mentions to Open Gardens and Andrew Grill’s blog.

Post of the Week: Matt at AllAboutiPhone.net heaps a healthy dose of contagious entheusiasm in “Awesome and innovative games are coming” – a look ahead at a not-so-distant future that includes “innovative gaming” and “Apple” in the same sentence! Goes to show you that if you live long enough anything can happen…

Over at Tarekesber.com you’ll find a highly comprehensive list of mobile web design and development resources, including specifics on designing for iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia handsets, as well as overall style guidelines for the both WML and XHTML mobile websites.

Speaking of designing and coding for the mobile web, Denis at WapReview reviews Nirav Mehta’s new book, Mobile Web Development. Least Common Denominator Design, Mobile AJAX, “Web Rich” apps and Widgets are among the topics covered.

Bernardo Carvalho over at rawsocket dot org writing a writes an amusing and educational piece on the potential of QR codes. Extra points for the CueCat reference.

Mark publishes a roundup of papers focused on education and mobility over at Ubiquitous Thoughts, along with (the now infamous) clip highlighting safety measures that may one day protect us all from the dangers of WWTM (walking while text messaging).

Judy at the GoldenSwamp uses an instructional video to make an interesting case against banning mobiles in schools. File this under “Another Reason Why Carbonated Beverages and Education Don’t Mix.”

And what exactly is this thing we’re calling “Open?” Find out this week on Open Gardens, where you’ll get fully briefed on the “It” subject in mobility just in time to impress the ladies (and gentlemen) at this year’s CTIA Wireless, which kicks off tomorrow in Vegas.

Regular carnival contributor Andrew Grill looks at how mobile social networking meets crowd powered media on the back of his experience at the new Heathrow Terminal 5 on opening day. It is amazing how a simple set of photos taken during a live event can become distributed around the world – thanks to the power of mobile social networking applications.

And over at Smart Mobs be sure to catch up on Roland’s Sunday Smart Trends #208, and see what happens when social networking meets the human genome.

Last but not certainly least, this week Chetan Sharma posts a hugely informative End of Year (EOY) 2007 Global Wireless Data Market Update. Check it out and find out which nation usurped the US as the number two wireless market last year… the answer might just surprise you.

That’s it for this week’s carnival. Thanks for reading! While you’re here check out some other posts here at mobilestance.com.

Be sure to visit Mobile Point View, who will be hosting Carnival of the Mobilists #118 next week. To learn more about the Carnival, or to submit or host, go to Mobili.st.

sxsw-2008-groundhog-day-mobilestance.jpgIf this year’s SXSW is any guide, we all may have to wait a little while longer before the arrival of Springtime for mobile marketing.

SXSW. Four letters that have come to stand for authenticity, innovation, and unrequited cool.

Yet unlike last year’s festival, mobility and mobile marketing at this year’s show seemed content with recycled tactics pioneered at other festivals, some of which are now more than three years old.

On the consumer facing-side of the festival, ringtones, SMS mobs, giveaways, mobile blogging and the ubiquitous “mobile festival guides” ruled the day, while the mobile-related panels at the industry-focused SBSX Interactive Festival seemed equally content with sales-heavy “forums” and other the conference mainstays.

Mobile marketing-related festival highlights are as follows:

  • Festival Guides. Several SMS and mobile web-based apps provided attendees with a “mobile guide” to the countless panels, parties, performances and film premieres punctuating the hipster-friendly event. eZee, creator of WebClip2Go, created the most robust of the mobile show guides in their “SXSW Interactive Companion” mobile-web service, aggregating numerous show-related feeds into an easy-to-navigate festival portal. Other notable mobile show guides included SXSW’s official mobile site, sxsw.mobi (including a version formatted for iPhone), and an impressive offering of SMS alerts, indexed by close to thirty keywords correlating to specific festival topics such as “musicparties”, “pizza” and “wifi.”
  • Mobile Marketing. As if the above mobile festival guides weren’t enough, Toyota and Urban Outfitters also offered SMS show alerts as a compliment to their sponsorship of “Free Yr Radio”, which touted itself as “an online resource to make your SXSW 2008 better than ever.” An online promotion also featured a “Win YR Way to SXSW 2008” sweepstakes, as well as an online form to sign up for mobile alerts from Toyota and Urban Outfitters. An “Airport Pickups” service rounded out the Toyota sponsorship (a glamorous ride in a Toyota Yaris, no doubt).
  • Panel Sessions. There was no shortage of mobility-related talk at the SXSW Interactive Festival. Hats off to anyone willing to brave the hours of laborious sales pitches masquerading as info sessions in order to glean the occasional “key learning.” Mobile marketing-related panel topics included “Video Production for Mobile Devices” (Jason Meil, Sr VP, Current; David Todd, VP Content & Strateg, Eyespot; and Hank Blumenthal, Program Mgr of Emerg, Schematic), “Increase Revenue by Mobile-Enabling Your Services” (Shawn Bose, Director of Prod Strategy, uShip; C. Eric Smith, Pres, UnWired Nation Inc; and Bill Flitter, CEO, Pheedo Inc), “Mobile Media You Can Move To” (Michael Epstein (Founder, Untravel Media Inc; Silvia Vergani, Untravel Media), “Mobile Phones: International Devices of Mystery” (Nathan Eagle, Research Scientist, MIT; Jonathan Donner; Neil Churcher, Head of Design, Orange) and “Using Entertainment to Create Effective Mobile Advertising” (Adam Zbar, CEO, Zannel Inc, Lathan Hodge, Co-Founder, Rapstation; and Eric Eller, SVP Prod/Mktg, Millennial Media).
  • Awards. In the “11th Annual SXSW Web Awards” Mosio took the top prize in the “Sites optimized for handheld and portable devices” category, which is odd in that Mosio is a text message (rather than web)-based application. Similar to ChaCha, Misio features a human-powered search engine whereby helpful Netizens happily answer your mobile queries (this, unlike ChaCha, which utilizes paid human “search responders”).
  • Miscellaneous. Location-based mobile social network Loopt teamed up with Filter Creative Group to provide original, geo-specific editorial content to Loopt subscribers, this according to Fierce Wireless. The service “deliver[ed] real-time, location-based broadcasting from [SXSW]… Eight correspondents from Filter magazine provid[ed] location-specific mobile commentary to alert attendees to the most promising bands, events and parties.” Finally, Opera debuted version 9.5 of its mobile browser, releasing it at their “Rock Opera” party, an event which seemed to be noted more for its swag than for the software it was promoting. While cherished by some, it seems that at this pace Opera will finally be ready for mass use around the same time as full HTML-capable, cookie-supporting mobile browsers become commonplace (thus making Opera altogether obsolete)

Analysis: While unfortunately none of the aforementioned mobile applications (other than the Loopt piece) seemed to break any meaningful new ground in terms of functionality and consumer application, what is truly disappointing is the lack of innovation displayed by the festival’s sponsors with regard to their application of “mobile marketing.”

While giveaways and alerts have their place, how many “show guides” does a consumer really need? None of the mobile web applications referenced had any real mobile advertising component to speak of, other than “The Interactive Show Guide”, which gave a half-hearted mobile adverting effort in that it was running Google Mobile AdWords ads. Perhaps it was a simple lack of sales effort (or desire) on the part of the application developers to integrate marketing offerings from the festival’s sponsors (or competitive brands looking to ambush the show), but either way this was a real missed opportunity to extend actionable, relevant, branded messaging to festival attendees and fanboys alike.

qualcomm-xiam-mobilestance-logo-lock-up-copy.jpg Somehow this got by most of the mobile news aggregators, but earlier in the week Qualcomm announced it was acquiring Xiam Technologies for $32MM (US).

Ireland-based Xiam Technologies is known as a provider of SMS messaging platforms and (of late) a mobile ad server branded “My Personal Offers System” or “MPOS.” In a increasingly crowed space, Xiam’s mobile ad server features no obvious differentiator in its claim of “enabl[ing]mobile operators and brands to make personalized recommendations to individual consumers that are tailored to their unique tastes and preferences using advanced profiling techniques. MPOS also leverages demographic, contextual and behavioral profiling to enable true one-to-one mobile advertising.” Sound familiar? Well it should, as it seems we’ve nearly heard this same pitch here, here and here (just to name a few).

Analysis. Although it is still somewhat unclear how Qualcomm, known primarily as a supplier of chip sets for mobile devices, mobile content management, and for its steady stream of intellectual property lawsuits, will integrate the Xiam products into their current offerings, they are likely to be packaged to their current carrier customers as either an “integrated, one-stop-shop” mobile advertising solution (sort of like what BREW attempted in the mobile content / transactional management space), or as a stand alone, “carrier grade” mobile ad server.

Either way, it is notable that Qualcomm is placing such a significant investment in their mobile advertising capabilities, as the chip giant seems to be recognizing that advertising services will be integral to their ability to maintain their leadership position their core (operator services) business.

nihal-buzzd-mobilestance-copy.jpg Buzzd, which bills itself as “the premier mobile, local search service, providing real-time information for bars, clubs and restaurants on the mobile device,” has been generating quite a lot of buzz for itself in recent days. Coming off an on-deck deal with Helio (the MVNO best described as the “Futurama” of mobile – beleaguered and on borrowed time despite a cultish, geek-friendly following), the start-up recently swept all three MobileMonday Peer Awards in Barcelona last month at 3GSM, inclusive of the Jury, Audience and Global MoMo chapter awards.

Mobilestance sat down with Nihal Mehta, founder and CEO Buzzd, to gain more insight into the company and its plans for the future. Mehta, no stranger to mobile marketing in the US, had previously co-founded ipsh!, one of the first full-service mobile marketing agencies in the US, which he later sold to Omnicom (NYSE: OMC) in 2005.

[mobilestance] Please give us the Buzzd elevator pitch. [Nihal Mehta] Marketers and brands alike are being drawn to social networking in general, due to enhanced consumer engagement & potential virality of the brand msg, for example empowering ‘tastemakers’ to become the ambassador for any given brand to their friends and outside communities. Mobile takes the msg one step closer, with the ability to target not only the most personal medium to any consumer, but in more sophisticated end user targeting (demographic, carrier, handset, and.. location- the holy grail!).

Buzzd offers brands the ability to connect with consumers not only based on where they are right now, but what they have been doing recently as well (behavioral targeting!). For example, Buzzd displays an Adidas advertisement to someone that might frequent a hiphop club. In addition, Buzzd pioneers the latest innovation in mobile advertising– not just tiny little banner ads. We are also experimenting with interstitials and allowing consumers to tag their profile with specific brand identities. For these reasons, mobile social networking portrays the holy grail in targeting consumers for brands and marketers.

[ms] How did Buzzd concept come about? Was there an “ah-hah” moment when the mental light-bulb just “went on?” [NM] The inspiration for Buzzd was purely selfish…. [the] inside of that bar, what was the scene like right now? The guy/girl ratio? How crowded was it? We wanted to create a service that would fulfill these questions, that no other service currently addressed.

[ms] How has the Helio subscriber base taken to Buzzd? Are you looking to do similar deals with other carriers? [NM] Helio is the first of many Buzzd ‘on-deck’ deals by which the operator provides a link on their WAP deck to market Buzzd for their user community. The Helio target has been a slam dunk, due to their 3G handsets (mobile web flies!) and targeted demo who consume lifestyle and entertainment content.

[ms] Let’s talk numbers. What sort of traffic are you looking at right now, and where you think you’ll be at the end of the year? [NM] Through only three products currently marketed (Timeout, Flavorpill & Buzzd on Helio), traffic has been ramping significantly. With many more partnerships on the horizon and an official off-deck launch in Q2 [of ‘08], we anticipate hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of users by end of year.

[ms] What business categories are showing the most interest in your offering? Are you selling your inventory on a sponsorship or CPM basis? [NM] We are selling three main categories to advertisers: co-branded/custom sites (see AKQA / Smirnoff nightlife guide), sponsorships (see flavorpill.BuzzD.com/m by NOKIA) and [on a] CPM basis. We will be offering specific location targeting soon, based upon the consumer’s self-identified location or through handset/carrier GPS or cell tower triangulation.

[ms] Where is Buzzd going next? What lies ahead for Buzzd in terms of technology, promotion and integration? [NM] Integration across social networks (Facebook, MySpace, bebo, etc); integration with all available LBS technology (handset/carrier GPS, cellsite ID, triangulation, etc); optimized iPhone/android/blackberry launchers; j2me/brew/symbian; much, much more.. Stay tuned and keep checking back on www.BuzzD.com!

[ms] Finally, give us your insights on the mobile marketing space in the US… where it is now and where it’s headed. [NM] I founded ipsh! in 2001 as a technology company, with a vision to become an agency. today, ipsh! along with a few other successful mobile marketing agencies, are finally full-service agencies, not only doing the execution, but [also] providing valuable creative, strategy and analytics. This is key to providing real value to the customer– 360 integration across MOBILE – i.e. Bluetooth, SMS, WAP, java, QR, etc– and tying it back through traditional channels (print, TV, radio, OOH, POP, etc). It’s finally happening, and we’re seeing more budgets dedicated to mobile marketing/advertising by the day. It’s exciting to finally have the initial vision realized and we hope to innovate with similar results in the mobile local/social networking arena with Buzzd!

The YouTube video demoing Buzzd on Helio can be seen here:

[wp_youtube]B91uzihA0TA[/wp_youtube]

ogilvyone-acision-logo-mobilestance-copy.jpg OgilvyOne, the Interactive and CRM arm of the WPP Group, and Plano, TX-based Acision, a mobile technology firm that provides the mobile messaging back-end to many Wireless Carriers worldwide, announced a “marketing alliance” to “enable mobile marketing and advertising for mobile operators and brands.” No specific mobile brand initiatives or product offerings are cited in the announcement.

Over the past few years OgilvyOne has been an active player in the US mobile marketing space, going back to their groundbreaking 2004 integrated mobile marketing campaign for Dove. Acision, who claims to “deliver more than half of the world’s text and multimedia messages and serves three quarters of all videomail users,” would seem an ideal parter for for OgilvyOne’s future direct marketing-based mobile messaging campaigns, although it is not clear what assets (other than its messaging platform) Acision would bring to a “mobile advertising” offering.

Brian Fetherstonhaugh, Chairman and CEO, OgilvyOne hints at a future carrier tie-up (or at least reveals Acison/OgilvyOne’s pitch to the carriers) by stating that “it is crystal clear that the big opportunity for telco operators is to leverage their data assets.” Rory Buckley, CEO, Acision further reinforced their strategy by asserting that “Mobile operators have been incredibly vocal about their hopes for mobile advertising… the real potential lies in the targeting and delivery of marketing communications both for the operator themselves and for third party brands… Working with OgilvyOne, we are now in a position to offer support for the complete mobile marketing value chain; from an understanding of today’s mobile subscriber, through the technology, right into the brand strategy.”

Clearly then the missing piece is a Carrier willing to sign on and allow the two to manage their mobile messaging ad inventory (or at a minimum permit the two to leverage the consumer data currently managed by Acision for mobile ad targeting purposes). While there is little doubt OgilvyOne’s expertise in CRM and brand marketing combined with Acision’s Carrier relationships and current dominant role in the mobile messaging value chain will provide a compelling offering to mobile operators worldwide – it remains to be seen which (if any) of the Carriers will decide to move forward with the Acison/OgilvyOne integrated mobile messaging-based advertising offering.

burnett-akoo-logo-mobilestance-copy.jpg In related news, Publicis’ Arc Worldwide, the marketing services arm of Leo Burnett, announced a non-exclusive alliance with Akoo International, a provider of mobile messaging and integrated display technology. The announcement makes no mention of specific brands committing to any marketing services resulting from the Arc / Akoo alliance.

Akoo’s primary offering is its “m-Venue” platform, which allows consumers to control and/or interact with video content displayed in retail locations and other out-of-home places – either via the internet or through a mobile message-based application. The solution also features a “music ID”-like feature, whereby consumers can text in to receive more information on the song that they are listening to (presumably for later purchase). The current m-Venue offering is tailor made for the labels, such as Universal Music Group and Sony BMG – the both of which are listed on the Akoo website as as either current or historical m-Venue clients.

The fit then, with Arc Worldwide, with its focus on direct-database marketing/customer relationship management, interactive marketing, promotional marketing and – most importantly – shopper marketing, is a natural one. It remains unclear if Akoo will be making a direct advertising play by aggregating a network of display spaces incorporating their m-Venue system, or if they will merely be providing the back-end technology for Arc (and other agencies and brands) to activate independent OOH display inventory.

Analysis: While both agreements provide further evidence of the accelerating activity and interest in the mobile marketing sector, it is telling that neither announcement provides any mention of actual mobile brand activity. What is clear that both Publicis and WPP anticipate mobile as an important element in the integrated marketing space, although both holding companies are playing things somewhat safe by announcing “marketing alliances,” rather than making direct investments in and/or launching Joint Ventures with either of these mobile technology firms.

 

mobilestance.com mobile pizza wars graphicWith most of the big Pizza chains in US ramping up their mobile activities (including recent announcements by Domino’s, Pizza Hut and Papa John’s), a “wrap up” of sorts is clearly due – if only to try to sort out the litany of mobile offers, options and promotional tactics currently employed by the “big 3.”

“Mobile Ordering” options have dominated the field, either by SMS or via the mobile web. Unfortunately, both require the user to first register online before placing orders on their mobile devices – ultimately limiting the appeal of these services to the early adopter and extreme pizza loving niches.

It is not entirely clear why all three have chosen to handicap their mobile ordering services so severely, but no doubt security and (to a lesser extent) UI challenges remain at the core of their reasoning.

The pizza chains’ other mobile services, including SMS discount offers, SMS and WAP store locaters, and message-based sweepstakes programs all seem effective uses of the mobile channel, in that they seem to be adding real value to existing (non-mobile) ordering options.

A wrap-up of the “Big Three’s” current mobile initiatives is as follows:

  • Papa John’s. While Papa John’s has allowed ordering via SMS since November of last year, they have also begun to utilize SMS for promotional purposes as well. Their SMS ordering process is fairly intuitive: After first setting-up and configuring an online account, consumers can order any one of their preset “Favorites” by texting a “FAV” (ex “FAV1”, “FAV2”, etc) to 4PAPA (47272) and confirming their purchase by replying “Y” to the auto response msg. A Papa John’s store locater and an opt-in for discount offers are also available via SMS.

    Recently the chain also launched a mobile-centric promotion timed to coincide with 2008 NFL playoffs. The promotion, “TEXTra Points 4 Pizza“, ties mobile pizza discounts to the total scores of NFL playoff games (as well as the Superbowl itself), and works as follows: Fans first either text the keyword “POINTS” to 47272 (4PAPA) or register online. Then, during the wild card and divisional rounds, if the score of any playoff game totals 25 points or more, registered fans will receive a text message from Papa John’s with a promo code worth 25% off a medium pie. For conference championship day (Sunday, January 20) if either game’s score reaches a cumulative 50 points all registered fans will receive 50% discount… and if the cumulative score is 75 points or more on Superbowl Sunday, registered fans will receive a 75% discount via text message. All discount offers are redeemed online via coupon code entry.

  • Domino’s Pizza. Domino’s rolled out their “Order by SMS” in the UK August of 2007, and added mobile web ordering options in the US in October of that same year. Domino’s decided to set up a separate, consumer-facing URL for their mobile site (mobile.dominos.com), rather than simply redirecting mobile users from the main site. That said, most mobile devices are redirected from the main website (dominos.com) to the Domino’s WAP site anyway, although the iPhone does not (which is a good thing, as the iPhone renders the mobile site into an illegibly small half inch square in the upper left hand corner of the screen.). Unfortunately when tested the mobile site was plagued with errors, continually crashing upon login or when attempting to place an order. The mobile site also incorporates a store locater.
  • Pizza Hut. Launched on Monday of last week, Pizza Hut’s “Total Mobile Access” offers both SMS and WAP ordering options (both in the US). SMS ordering is fairly straightforward: consumers “text ‘O’ followed by a space and the name of your Playlist choice (ex: O FAV).” A consumer’s “Pizza Playlist Choices” can only be set by setting up an account on the PC version of pizzahut.com.

    For their mobile website, Pizza Hut chose to go with a unified URL approach, where all users – regardless of platform – navigate to the same URL (pizzahut.com), with mobile users then being automatically redirected to the mobile version of the site. Overall, the mobile site rendered “well enough” in our testing on several handsets, although we would have liked to see an option to manually override the redirect and to go to the main (non-mobile) site – as the mobile version is not fully-functional (account settings, such as the delivery addresses and “Pizza Playlists” can only be edited on the “PC” version of the website). Even iPhone users, with their vaunted “desktop-grade” Safari browser, are redirected to the mobile version on the Pizza Hut site. Ultimately the decision to restrict mobile access to the main site was likely due to the latter’s reliance on flash elements and java scripting, the both of which cannot render and/or often crash most mobile browsers (including the Blackberry’s HTML browser… and yes, the iPhone).

Analysis: To use a well-worn phrase, nearly all of these offerings are far more evolutionary than revolutionary. While commendable in their attempts to tap into the “hot” new channel that is mobile, all of these programs remain tethered to the traditional (wireline) web. That said, most if not all represent a sold understanding of the benefits and limitations of US mobile marketing at its current stage of maturity, and show a refreshing move away from the “risk averse” stance of most brands – even those professing to be edgy and cool.

Of course, the 600 lb gorilla in the room is that it remains to be seen if consumers will find any of the above offerings “better” than the current mobile ordering process: Voice Dialing.