2006 Prediction 1 and 2

Welcome to MobHappy’s 2006 Predictions!

While Carlo and I are away, chilling out, we’ve written these for your entertainment. While they’re a bit of fun on one level, we also take them quite seriously and if previous years are a guideline, we’re not bad at them. If we score a point of every right one, 2005 saw us with 17/19 and 2004 with 6.5/8.

We’ve done a full 20 – two each week day – a one liner and a slightly more considered piece. Please comment and leave feedback, as that’s what makes blogging fun for everyone.

So let’s crack on.

1. Apple launches the iPhone (as opposed to co-operating with a Moto phone) as MP3 and phone convergence accelerates.

2. Mobile Marketing – The Market Thaw

Mobile Marketing has been going to be big next year since 2001, unless you’ve been reading my predictions. But every year it’s really failed to gain much traction and for every brand dipping its toes into the mobile marketing sea, you’ve had another running back up the beach to safer campaign territory.

2006, in my view, will start to be the sea change. 2006 won’t be the year it explodes, but we’ll certainly start to see more brands get involved and there’s a real danger of agencies making some money from it.

Why am I thinking along these lines?

I admit there’s a huge amount of gut feel here and listening to the market, but that shouldn’t be discounted, as anyone who’s ever read Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink will appreciate.

However, this is supported by some important trends.

Firstly, we have demographics. It’s always been the case that marketing departments tend to be led by people in their late 30’s and 40’s. Senior agency people in charge of selling campaigns were around the same age. This meant that that 5 years ago, these people weren’t even using sms and needed to have it explained to them.

So despite all the evidence that their customers were big on sms and using their phones for other stuff, they didn’t really feel it and couldn’t relate to it. At the same time, the agencies were full of people who couldn’t think joined-up mobile, so poor little mobile marketing had no chance.

5 years on and we have a new generation of marketers in charge. They won’t exactly have grown up with a phone in their hands as the under 25’s have done, but they’ll certainly be heavy users of mobile and it’ll be in their psyche. This means that when mobile ideas are proposed, they’ll understand with both their brains and their hearts.

The final piece of the demographic jigsaw is customers themselves. Everyone uses sms these days, therefore it can no longer be accused of being niche. More importantly, it’s so bleeding obvious that for anyone under 30, their mobile is the most important possession. They’re simply obsessed and rarely spend even a minute without glancing at it, fondling it, checking it for messages. Only a congenitally stupid marketer can ignore this, especially when combined with the stats showing the rapid decline of old media in terms of consumption and influence.

Another trend is the mainstream agencies are finally noticing mobile and that they have to start changing quickly if they are to survive after the old 30 second ad is finally buried in the next couple of years. All the bright agencies are looking at the implications of this and are really starting to embrace change. I don’t think these guys are going to drive the market, but they do learn quickly once something has their attention.

That doesn’t mean we’re not going to see loads of doomed attempts to put banner ads on phones and run 30 second ads on them.

I also worry that there’s a dearth of creative people, who think up the campaigns, who understand the technology involved in mobile. While the customer shouldn’t be bothered with HOW things work, campaign originators do. So unless you understand what’s possible, you’ll never push the envelope in any meaningful way.

In fairness, the corollary applies. The techies who run the back end, aren’t capable of coming up wiith good campaigns, as they don’t understand marketing. So we need people who can operate across this void, naturally and instinctively.

Mobile marketing is a child of engagement marketing and is perfectly suited to that engagement process of creating dialogues with customers. This is the secret of success in mobile and brands considering getting involved must have dialogue at the heart of their campaigns.

2006 will see a lot more innovation in sms (much more than yet another “text and win”), forays into WAP and Java, experiments with sponsored content and some intelligent (and legal) innovation in location-based promotions. It’ll really start to explode in 2007/8 and brands need to start learning now before they start having to play catch-up.

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