Breakfast wake-up call

Mobiles used to be those things that mesmerised babies lying in their cots, although frequently leaving them with a puzzled frown on their face.

Now they’re those things which mesmerise half the world’s population for most of their waking life, although frequently blah blah blah.

In our industry, people have been rabbiting on about Mobile for ever. Or for the last 4 years anyway, which is pretty much the same thing. Mobile is the new internet. Mobile is the new Simon Cowell. Mobile is the new Croque Monsieur.

Well, a breakfast at Patisserie Valerie last Tuesday totally convinced me.

This was one of those Albion Society breakfasts I’ve blogged about before. In this case the title was “The Revolution Will Be Mobilised” – which I love.

Simon Andrews kicked it off, at a blistering pace and with a blizzard of statistics.

At the time of the dotcom bubble, there were 350 million people online. There are currently 400 million people with smart phones.

In February of this year, smartphones outsold PCs.

This isn’t coming – this has already come and then rolled over and fallen asleep.

Simon’s view is that very soon fixed-access internet will seem as strange as fixed phone-lines now look.

I.e. You’ll see it on repeats of old TV programmes, and in your granny’s house – but nowhere else.

It was interesting when he talked about how there is still such resistance to this – the ad industry put more money into cinema ads last year than they did into mobile advertising.

I never cease to be amazed at how resistant this industry is.

I’d like to think that agencies’ reluctance to dive in has been influenced by the still unresolved issues of health concerns relating to mobile. But then again I’d like to think that I look as good all the time as when I suck my stomach in, and that just isn’t true.

The fact is that the ad industry advertised cigarettes long after conclusive medical evidence of their harmfulness and also put ads into The Jeremy Kyle Show long after it had been proved to destroy brain cells.

Raam Thakrar spoke next about how to make money out of all this – there, you really wish you’d gone now, don’t you ?

Clive Dickens of Absolute Radio was up after him, and he also demonstrated how clients can be several life-times ahead of the average ad agency employee. The brand’s commitment to mobile is awesome, (65% listening via digital platforms vs an industry average of 25%) including some hugely innovative iAd executions.

As he said, you’ve got to “go where your audience are”.

As Simon had said earlier, this is quite different from going where the average ad agency’s skill sets currently reside.

How many ad agencies could talk helpfully to their clients about how to use mobile ?

(Answers via a sister company, please.)

One bit I loved from Clive’s talk was when he attacked the old-fashioned metrics which the ad industry still uses. Barb, Rajar, etc.

As he said – Google doesn’t estimate anything. Google knows.

And finally Mark Curtis talked very seductively about his online flirting business Flirtomatic. (Sometimes you just KNOW you’re in the wrong business – but it can be rough to have your nose rubbed in that fact quite so firmly). And then he left us with a creative provocation.

Mobile, he said, is the first medium to really push beyond its own frame.

All media try to do this – it’s part of being creative. But mobile is doing stuff with GPS and Augmented Reality which is genuinely mind-f*cking.

It’s buckling the frame out of all recognition and putting it out on the street for the council to pick up.

We are on the brink of a revolution. To quote Wordsworth, Bliss was it that dawn to be alive, but to hear all about it while munching a croissant from Patisserie Valerie was very heaven.

  • Jeremy Rosenberg

    Well put.

    Many of the marketing clients I provide consultancy to know a great deal about the opportunities in mobile, but invariably are doing battle with their IT function for control of the technology.

    Where they lose out, the results from their IT people are often pedestrian and, more importantly, have little to do with what ‘end users’ need or want. Or make gratuitous and irrelevant use of high-tech whistles and bells to demonstrate just how creative the IT team can be! Who thinks that including AR in an app to tell me that the company’s one office in the UK is over the horizon and behind me is ‘creative’…

    What an opportunity for agencies! But, your reference to ad spend in cinemas says it all.

    I really enjoyed my time in the industry (and maybe that was the point), but for an industry that sells itself on creativity, to innovate 50 years ago by allowing copywriters and art directors to share the same room, then introduce planners (at no cost!) before falling asleep does not bode well. And its difficult to forget that a-t-l agencies long viewed b-t-l as the place where old suits (ie 30+) went to die.

    So, this little ‘trend’ may need a better response than the old ‘we’ll buy and swallow up a mobile hot-shop and offer it as an add-on’. And I’m always happy to share my thoughts on what that might be.

    Shameless plug: In the meantime, I also run a mobile course for marketers with my friends at emarketeers Details at:

    I’d happily welcome friends from the advertising world to the course. But not if you just want to reminisce about old times…

  • Red Brown

    Too true. Google now say next month mobile search will overtake online search.

  • Christmas Clarke

    Ten years ago you had to be really importyant to have a mobile phone. Today you have to be really important not to have a mobile phone.

  • George Nimeh

    We’re not on the brink of anything, and it It isn’t a revolution, Steve. It’s a slow burn, and it’s been happening for several years.

    For kicks, I checked my blog, and my first post about mobile was in 2006 :: …. And whilst certainly not precocious by any means, what I’m trying to say is that this is not new.

    Over the last three to five years, those watching/participating have seen the Mobile World Congress transform itself from a conference centred on hardware and towers to apps and consumer innovation.

    More recently, the signs have all been there: Google acquired AdMob in 2009, the same year a billion apps were downloaded from the Apple App Store. Last year, it was 8 billion. Now, there are 300K Android handset activations per day.

    The only thing driving agencies’ reluctance to dive in is cluelessness, starting at the top. If the agency CEO/MD isn’t talking mobile and hiring for it, the agency isn’t going to dive in. And because this is a good example of where agencies could be leading/helping clients, they’re abdicating the opportunity and leaving it to the specialists, just as they did when people started talking about the interwebs 15 years ago. They’ve learned nothing.

    Anyway, pardon my rant, and welcome to the party.



    Thanks for the kind words Steve – my Facts & Friction deck is on the site and you can sign up for Mobile Fix, our weekly newsletter, there too.
    As ever, the industry lags behind the consumer.
    People are hungry for content and services that solve problems for them and that delights them too.
    We need brands that will take the initiative, working with people who know how to take advantage of the magical capabilities of mobile. Then we’ll see it take off.

  • Inky Blackstuff

    Web 3.0. When the line between online life and real life disappears. That’s where we’re headed and it’s bad. It is said (though it was in The Guardian so I don’t know how true it is) that already, credit card companies can predict with 98% accuracy that a couple will divorce in two years, simply by looking at their spending patterns. Your computer will know where you are, how you shop, what porn you like, everything about your life. Couple that with face recognition on CCTV garnered from the pictures you have posted on Facebook of when you were pissed in The Old Coffee House and there will be no hiding place. Not long after that will be the singularity and not long after that the human race will cease to exist. And you lot worry about selling washing powder and getting the words “leverage” and “going forwards” into every meeting.

Campaign Jobs

  • Most discussed/rated

  • Tags

  • Authors

  • Archive

    March 2011
    M T W T F S S
    « Feb   Apr »