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Don't market to people, market to context: IAB keynote

NEW YORK ? The keynote address at the IAB's Marketplace: Mobile conference stressed that context is important for mobile marketing and used a General Electric application to illistrate this point.

The keynote titled, "Everyware: The Mobility of the Earth,? specifically talked about location as the most relevant context for mobile marketing.

?The year of mobile is a myth?mobile isn?t discreet, it exists within a system,? said Faris Yakob, chief innovation officer of MDC Partners Inc., New York. ?Platforms are iterative?things are always changing, so the important thing is to look at is the cultural assumptions that sit on top of those platforms.

?Consumer behaviors are more important than specific platforms,? he said. ?Don?t market to people, market to context.?

MDC Partners is an advertising holding company with majority stakes in Crispin Porter and Bogusky, Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal and Partners, zig and Henderson BAS.

One of the useful things marketers can do with location and context is time-shift now, per Mr. Yakob. He provided several examples.

Big Spaceship developed the Morsel application for GE, which reminds users to do one thing to be healthier every day. It deploys a persuasion tactic called social proof?it shows users who else has done a particular activity.

?The app guilts you into doing it, which is brilliant,? Mr. Yakob said.

Revealing the past, challenging the future
Mr. Yakob took a picture with his mobile phone on the streets of New York: ?Revealing the past, challenging the future.? He then showed a slide with a quote from Copernicus: ?I too began to consider the mobility of the earth.?

Just as Copernicus?s idea forced people to reimagine their entire world view to understand that the earth revolves around the sun and not vice versa, marketers must rethink their assumptions about advertising, per MDC Partners.

?With mobile devices we tend to think of things moving, but that?s not the most interesting aspect?maybe something else is interesting instead,? Mr. Yakob said. ?People say mobile is a channel, but I?m not sure it is.

?Usually marketers try to work out the kind of people that tend to buy our product, model that and come up with something to convince them to buy our product,? he said.

?They try to find predictable and repeating patterns of purchase behavior that tend to represent themselves in people at certain points, but most of the time you aren?t thinking about specific brands or buying stuff.?

The most important aspects of mobile devices are the hyperconnectivity they enable worldwide and context based on factors such as location.

?Everyone has phones?phones are ?everyware,?? Mr. Yakob said. ?Phones allow marketers to provide context.

?The mobile device is aware of what you are doing and allows you to apply context,? he said. ?It?s not about marketing to people, but marketing to certain situations, a particular context where your product or service is relevant.?

In mobile, people are in a state of ?constant now,? per MDC Partners.

?It?s always now on your phone,? Mr. Yakob said. ?Google?s mobile strategy is based on now?repetitive now, bored now and urgent now.

?There are different kinds of context, but if we are going to be on people?s phones, we have to provide utility,? he said. ?[Advertising] needs to be contextually useful and location is one layer of context we can apply, a concept I call ?geo-tility.??

Epic Win is an application that combines that idea with role-playing gaming and mobile social networking, providing users with incentives for accomplishing real-world objectives.

?Phones can turn life into a game?Foursquare is a good example,? Mr. Yakob said. ?The real world becomes the platform and the mobile device becomes the way to navigate that platform.

?We are predisposed to share,? he said.

Whether or not you consider mobile a channel, a multiplicity of channels or a medium, Mr. Yakob said that each new channel changes the entire system.

?Because YouTube exists, what TV is for is forever different,? Mr. Yakob said. ?Whether or not your print campaign has a mobile component, the world does.

?Maybe the kind of channel mobile is, is a backchannel, good for responding to other things,? he said.

As an example, he cited Calvin Klein Jeans? ?Get It Uncensored? billboard campaign that features a gigantic QR code driving consumers to view mobile video content.

?QR codes are not the future of mobile marketing, because there too many barriers, too many steps such as having to download an app, but they are an important step forward,? Mr. Yakob said. ?Pretty soon they will be redundant, because of visual search and [augmented reality applications such as] Google Goggles.

?We won?t need codes of any kind because software will recognize real-world objects,? he said.

The world changes constantly, technology platforms and channels change constantly, so marketers should focus on the big picture?consumer behavior and context to provide relevancy and utility or diversion.

?Don?t focus on the mobile device, focus on everything else around it,? Mr. Yakob said. ?Maybe the earth is moving, not the sun.

?The ecosystem around the devices is what?s changing,? he said.

Mobile relates to an idea Mr. Yakob calls ?The Invisible Web.?

?Mobile is a point of intersection between our analog and digital selves, between the online and offline worlds,? Mr. Yakob said. ?The blind man?s cane is not a piece of technology, it is how he sees.?

Given that, how can marketers use mobile in creative ways to achieve their goals?

As an example, Mr. Yakob discussed the iButterfly augmented reality application, which lets consumers collect virtual butterflies in specific locations and use them as coupons and exchange them with friends as a sort of virtual currency.

?The biggest fear with location-based marketing is location-based spam,? Mr. Yakob said. ?If you are going to disperse coupons, make it into a game?then it?s not annoying, it?s fun.?

Location-based marketing can be incredibly effective, but consumers? data must be used responsibly.

?The role of privacy is hugely important,? Mr. Yakob said. ?The cost of relevance is transparency?the more relevant you want the content to be the more transparent you have to be.

?Privacy is basically about control,? he said. ?Marketers have to anonymize data?we have to trust an intermediate layer that brokers data for us.?

Final Take
At the conclusion of the keynote, Mobile Marketer's Dan Butcher interviewed Mr. Yakob. Here is the video: