2007 Predictions – 5, 6 and 7

A couple of quick ones today, as we continue to look at what’s going to happen this year, in my humble opinion.

Prediction 5 – European Data Tariffs

The Mary Elizabeth Mapes Dodge’s¬†colloquial little fella has taken his finger out of the dyke and flat rate data packages have started to trickle into the marketplace with products like T-Mobile‚Äôs Web ‚Äòn Walk and 3‚Äôs X-Series.

Stand by for the dam to burst in 2007. Anyone with a contract who wants a flat rate data package by the end on 2007 will get one, though it remains to be seen how PAYG will be affected.

Of course, this is great news in itself. But the fabulous implication will mean that the mobile web’s time has finally come. Walled gardens are largely down now (in Europe certainly), affordable flat rate data is here as well as high speed connectivity. The mobile web is finally open for business and the desk top’s days are numbered.

Prediction 6 – Mobile Marketing

Well, I said that 2006 would see the thaw ending in the winter of mobile marketing and it would start to take off. 2007 sees the Summer arriving big time as bigger brands start to discover the power of the medium.

Why am I so confident? Well, with the mobile web about to explode (see above), brands will suddenly realise that they need a mobile web site, much the same as 1994/5/6 saw a rush to build sites on the first web. So if you work in marketing or for an agency, this should be high up on your agenda before someone else thinks of the idea, or sells one to your client first.

The problem is that “build it and they shall come” isn’t much of a marketing strategy as we all learned back in the day. So once you have a mobile site, you need to promote it.

The fact is that advertising on the mobile web is simply the best way to promote a mobile web site. All you’re asking your customer to do is click on a link. They don’t have to type in a url, or even have the right settings on their phone in the first place. So, no wastage, high efficiency and great ROI.

That’s not the only reason though. As operators are realising that the era of pillaging is coming to an end, at least as far as data tariffs are concerned (plenty of pillaging to still be had in roaming though Рfor a while), they’re looking for new sources of revenue and naturally enough, will be looking at advertising to help. This will start off with each operator trying to do it on their own. But sooner or later (I’ll give it two to three years), they’ll come to the conclusion that it makes more sense to outsource this to experts and so that brands and agencies can have one buying point, rather than 4 or 5, or however many operators each market has.

Finally, the other inexorable trend in mobile marketing that we’ll start to see this year is ad-funded content. Mobile content is still expensive, which leaves a very big niche to be exploited for companies to sell subsidised content or even free ad-funded content. I’m not just talking the more obvious gaming and ringtones, but applications too. Clever entrepreneurs will start to flock to the sector, now a proven business model exists.

In summary, mobile marketing is hot in 2007 and a great sector to work in. About bloody time, personally speaking, having waited 7 long and frustrating years. But I kept the faith.

Prediction 7 – Mobile Search

Here’s my take on mobile search.

I think that the mobile is currently about discovery, not about search. We want Jerry Yang’s Directory now, not Yahoo! Search that it became. People don’t know what they’re looking for on their mobile in many cases and if you don’t really know what you’re looking for, how can you search for it?

Search is brilliant at finding the needle in the haystack, but not so good if you just know you’re looking for something that you know might just be sharp and shiny.

So, 2007 and mobile search: lots of noise, mucho big announcements, very little actual user use. Its day will come and it’s obviously important that the big boys do their strategic deals in anticipation of that time. But usage won’t be big this year.

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