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Mobile FirstLook was refreshingly not Mobile Same Look

By Jeff Hasen

The best part of Mobile Marketer’s Mobile FirstLook conference is that it gives us an early indication of whether the new year is destined to become “mobile same look.”

The signs coming out of this week’s fourth annual conference Mobile FirstLook: Strategy 2015 Jan. 14-15 in New York were clear that this year will be different.


While it took way longer than many of us imagined, the convincing phase is over.

The ask
There are no more “Why mobile?” queries from brand managers or anyone else with a need to reach the always-on consumer. We have unmistakenly moved to the “what” and “how” questions, and that has spawned healthy discussion about consumer wants and how we can meet them, as well as personalization, customer journeys, privacy and measurement.

First, what we discovered about the mobile user from Forrester Research vice president and principal analyst Julie Ask:

• Twenty-one percent of U.S. consumers have the expectation of anything, anywhere, anytime. Another 29 percent are transitioning there
• Consumers expect brands to engage with them where they are
• Wireless device users have 150-200 “mobile moments” a day where they want to take action

Many brands are failing in their mobile efforts because, at least through 2014, they were ill equipped or unwilling to take time to read the signals.

According to Ms. Ask, 89 percent of companies have a mobile strategy to have consumers come to them. In many cases, that is not happening. She also said that 62 percent still treat devices as just smaller PCs.

The conference was to learn from those who are doing it well.

Time’s now
One is Time Inc., which has successfully evolved from a company reliant on print readership to one that has evolved to changes in consumption habits.

By the end of 2014, Time Inc. had 72 million mobile unique users a month, representing an 80 percent growth year over year. With that traffic, driven in large part through the creation of a more personalized user experience, came a 100 percent increase in revenue.

As proof of Ms. Ask’s point about consumers wanting to be met at their favorite destinations, Sol Masch, Time Inc.’s executive director of video and mobile advertising, said that the company gets more mobile traffic through search and social than via its properties’ homepages. Mr. Masch said that is because we live in a “side-door society.”

Before being inducted into the Mobile Hall of Fame, Coca-Cola global group director for mobile Tom Daly spoke of his company’s advancements in enabling desire through mobile.

Mr. Daly’s broad initiatives cover the foundational elements of mobile – SMS and the mobile Web, for instance – as well as early innovation in the implementation of beacons and payments. He pointed to much-needed research that is proving the efficacy of mobile advertising.

And as refreshing as a Coke, Mr. Daly spoke of mobile as a work in progress. Despite being named 2014 Mobile Marketer of the Year, Coca-Cola, like all of us, has lots more to do.

Mr. Daly said that he would give his company’s efforts two bars on a scale of 1-5, that Coke’s app strategy is being revamped since only two of its apps have ever been downloaded more than one million times, and that mobile is still a single-digit percentage spend of Coke’s overall global digital budget.

AT MOBILE FIRSTLOOK: Strategy 2015, there was considerable discussion about Apple Watch, as well as smart devices in the home and elsewhere. Questions were raised as to what problems these new technologies are or are not solving and whether the already connected consumer will see value in a wearable that can deliver notifications to the wrist.

Mr. Daly’s view on much of this is that “the future is amazing but it’s still the future.”

Those were good words to remember, as were his comments about mobile succeeding only within an integrated marketing program.

“It’s never, ever, ever just mobile,” he said.

Jeff Hasen is founder/president of mobile consultancy Gotta Mobilize, Seattle. Reach him at [email protected]