Opportunities in Mobile Messaging (Part 1)

Kevin Ryan: All right, good morning everybody. I am Kevin Ryan, iMedia's search editor, among other things. Welcome to the Working Group presentation: Mobile Marketing -- a very hot topic in today's business. We have two very distinguished speakers today to share with you some of their key insights into this space, kind of what's happening and what's going on. We'll do a couple of 20-minute presentations and then we'll leave lots of time at the end for Q&A, so please save your questions for the end.

We have Courtney Jane Acuff, who is currently heading Digits, a part of Starcom MediaVest. And, also Mr. John Zaccario, who is the VP of product management and emerging sales at ESPN. Both are big veterans in the business and have been doing it for quite some time. Please welcome both and let's get rolling.

Courtney Jane Acuff: Great. We have heard today, and yesterday -- I was actually just saying that in the past 24 hours I have heard more about mobile, and cell phones, and Boost and Motorola and all of those sort of third screen entities coming together, honestly than I have in probably the last two years -- which for someone like me, in my position, is great. It means that we are finally talking about a marketplace that is viable, for our advertisers, for content providers, and on down the road. 

In the little write-up of our session today, there were a couple of questions and one was, "What's changed the most?" Well, what's changed the most is, we actually now can put logos of advertisers up on a screen who have participated in this marketplace. This switch, from sort of early 2004 to right now, 2005 has been huge. We now have advertisers participating in the space beyond just your record labels and your movie studios, and that was great -- they came into the marketplace and taught everybody else how you can improve it and what can be happening. So, really what we are looking at now is a scalable marketplace that has viability beyond just the teen and the young adult market. So, if you have older consumers, there is a way and a touchstone to reach them. John and I will actually talk about that with a case study we did for males with ESPN. 

So, we have gone from the brick to the razor (thin), and that is a great visual to talk about what we have in terms of the scale, the usage, and the opportunity to engage. Again, viability has come with individuals using their cell phones beyond just voice-to-voice communications. That is actually one of the last things that you use your phones for these days. It is now about the features and the functions, and you controlling an experience that really encompasses sight, sound and emotion. It's all in one, and it represents probably the most personal (in my opinion) consumer-controlled device that you have.

Everything that we talk about with internet, and broadband, and next generation TV -- that's awesome, and that's the roots and the foundation of my heritage. But, now we have an opportunity to really take the era of visual engagement and put it into a device that I the consumer control. 

So, Starcom IP, in an effort to take advantage of what we were seeing in terms of the consumer marketplace, dedicated expertise to that area. We as an agency … part of the session is to talk about how agencies are approaching it, how content providers are approaching it, and how we come together. We decided that it wasn't something we could just watch anymore. So, we dedicated initiatives in the end of 2003, beginning of 2004, to conduct a research study -- qualitative and quantitative -- to actually understand if we were working, from a consumer standpoint, with engagement and opportunities that we could then turn into something on behalf of our advertisers. So, instead of having a large advertiser come to us and say, "We want in," we actually took the consumer approach and went out to consumers and said, "How would you like to engage with us on this device that is always on and always with you and most personable?" 

We have allocated clients, which also is a huge shift, I think. I am not sure how many other agencies out there actually have allocated clients. There are certainly clients outside of our organization that are in the space, but having an allocated client means that we are involved at a strategy level. It is not an afterthought. So, it fully is integrated into, usually the digital piece of it, but more and more in the entertainment piece of it, in the traditional piece of it, and the print piece of it. We really put together an approach and a perspective that leads mobile extensions to be something that are a value to the consumer, not something that we just tack on and say, "Let's test it." There have been enough marketers who have tested and it is really now our opportunity to learn, quite frankly from some of their mistakes, and put into market something that we actually think the consumer is going to want and going to be receptive to.

Part of having John here today is to talk about that last bullet point in terms of how we have deployed uniquely concepted ideas that really take advantage of what we can do today while keeping an eye on what is happening tomorrow. There are lots of bugs that you hear about that actually if you were to sit down and talk to John or me, it's just not possible -- yet. It's going to be, but in terms of setting expectations, we have really been able to work together as an agency, on behalf of an advertiser, with the content provider and put out programs that are actionable and executable today (and you will get a sneak peak at some of those things from John's end), while keeping an eye on what is happening down the road so that we can be ready to talk about those advertising models, which by the way, not many exist, which is part of the problem. So, starting to see some of that come together and understand where we can maybe create those advertising models, and/or work with the various entities that are involved in the space to put the advertiser's perspective forward.

Tomorrow: ESPN's John Zaccario provides the content provider perspective.

Kevin Ryan is iMedia's search editor and the chief executive officer of Kinetic Results. Read full bio here.