Pocket Portal Review

If you’re not from around these parts, you’ll have missed that the mobile web is beginning to hit its stride and blossom into a really useful tool and one that’s now widely used by a significant proportion of the population. In fact, in certain markets, the mobile web is very big indeed already (India and South Africa spring to mind) with Europe and the US not so far behind.

With great change comes great opportunity (as Superman surely meant to say) and one of those opportunities is in tools to help people create mobile websites. One one level, these might be free or low cost offerings aimed at ordinary people who want to get a home page up quickly and easily – a kind of Geocities for the web, if you can remember how that originally exploded.

At the other end, there’s corporate offerings for a more flexible and sophisticated approach, if you have access to your own designers, more time and a little more budget.

I’ll be exploring a couple of these corporate solutions in the next few weeks, but let’s start off with Pocket Portal from Amplefuture, which has just won the NMA Effectiveness Awards in the travel category for their campaign for BA.

Pocket Portal’s approach is to go down the Java portal route, which users download to their phone – or an “interactive mini-website” on their mobile, as they call it. The great thing about this, is that it results in a far more sophisticated user experience than can be delivered over WAP or XHTML. Any necessary live interactivity, is over the web, but much of the navigation is instant, as it’s already sitting on your phone.

The downside of Java portals is the whole porting issue of the app once it’s written and the optimisation for all makes and models of phones. This normally makes it a very time consuming, expensive and frustrating exercise for one company to implement. However, Pocket Portal does all of this within the tool, making it pretty simple to use. And at ¬£299 ($564) a month, it’s a very cost-effective corporate solution.

According to the NMA Awards, the BA campaign, which was a download around the theme of “hidden London” and which was constantly updated with new content, achieved some impressive results:

The mobile application generated 4,000 downloads over a three-month period and the London is Closer site had over 200,000 visits from the online campaign. To date the campaign has generated £2.26m of revenue for BA. Results tracked by DoubleClick showed over 35m impressions delivered and 650,000 clicks recorded.

Originally planned for five markets, the success of the campaign saw it stretched across nine with an average cost per sale of £31 and average sale value of £204. The campaign generated an ROI of £5.46 for every media £1 invested, according to DoubleClick.Clearly

Clearly, not many brands can afford £31 cost per sale, but this would fall dramatically if the supporting media was scaled back and as people get more used to downloading this type of content to phones.

I’m intrigued as to why none of the big content players haven’t used Java portals to merchandise and sell their constantly updated products. It seems to me that once you have got the user to download the app to their phone, it stands a good chance of being able to switch the user into a loyalty pattern that the industry misses, outside the subscription models that many users are quite suspicous of these days.

So, Pocket Portal is a very nice alternative to your standard WAP portal and if you’re considering building a wapsite, this should be on your short list of possible executions.

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