Fall'13 Breakthrough

October 20-23, 2013 | Austin, Texas

How startups are shaping the future of mobile

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How do tech startups fit into the mobile landscape? In this Q&A, Ed Kaczmarek of Mondelez International shares his mobile insights and predictions.

How do tech startups fit into the mobile landscape? In this Q&A, Ed Kaczmarek, director of innovation and emerging technology at Mondelez International, shares his mobile insights and predictions.

Q: What made you realize it was time to go "mobile first"?

A: The mobile phone is the one device that you have with you every second of the day. We see that as a huge opportunity for us to create useful, meaningful, and impactful relationships with our consumers. It enables us to drive relevancy to a new level, which is key to success. Mobile is disrupting consumers' path-to-purchase as well as in-store experience, from the aisle to the register. This is driving us at Mondelez International to think differently about consumer engagement. Our goal is to become one of the world's leading mobile marketers. So we shifted a sizable percentage of our media and innovation efforts to mobile and are now looking at our media investment across the entire consumer journey -- and from a mobile lens.

It is especially important as you embark on the creative process to have "mobile first" as a strategic component. Marketers cannot just repurpose 15- and 30-second TV spots and expect to leverage what makes mobile so special -- and ultimately, achieve impressive consumer engagement. In order to make sure we are applying the right amount of focus to winning in this channel, we saw the need to shift a sizable percentage of our media and innovation efforts to mobile. We have made a commitment to spending 10 percent of our global marketing budgets within mobile.

Q: Where do you see mobile trends shifting over the next six months?

A: I believe location-based marketing will continue to increase, as the technology is able to accurately provide location data within a tighter perimeter so marketers can geo-fence stores and important areas of interest and feel confident that they are connecting with consumers who are actually "there" with the most relevant and timely message. We have found that there is currently a wide range of accuracy among various mobile networks and location startups. I think brands are experimenting more with location. And if they can integrate in social, you then have SoLoMo, and that can be quite game-changing.

Another trend I see growing is personalization and customization. So many startups and tech companies are enabling better targeting based on various consumer data points that lead to a greater degree of relevancy and timeliness. I can also see big data feeding more into consumer profiles -- with a privacy overlay, of course. Marketers never see unique consumer details, but they reap the benefits of the power of this new targeting. It also is a win for consumers, as they hopefully will be getting more messages that uniquely speak to their wants and desires.

I also feel that near field communication (NFC) will continue to grow in importance as more and more smartphones are equipped with the technology. NFC offers consumers a "magical" experience of just tapping for information and getting it immediately without any friction to the experience. We did a test last year with News America and Thinaire in a few grocery units in San Francisco and saw amazing results. Most importantly, the consumers were delighted with the experience, and it ignited a deeper connection with them and our products and messaging. It's critical for marketers to leverage the technology and develop unique experiences -- not just send a consumer to a standard mobile website.

Q: What qualities do you look for in a startup?

A: I look for startups that have shovel-ready technology, meaning they have a product ready to put to work in the market.

It's also important to review the business plan and innovation pipeline, so I can see how the company might intersect with some of our marketing goals and potentially solve some challenges we're facing. Startups that focus on point of buying and in-store, social TV, and SoLoMo are some of my current hot buttons.

I feel it's also very important to feel chemistry with the founders and team. We want to enjoy working with startups, as there is a greater need for intense collaboration, and we want to believe in not only the tech, but the team behind it. With our Mobile Futures US and Mobile Futures Brasil programs, it's critical that our brand teams feel a connection to the startup teams because we've created an opportunity for three to six months of game-changing collaboration that creates extraordinary results for all of us.

I also look to review the type of funding a startup has secured and its plans for future funding. Has the startup participated in an incubator or accelerator? This can also by a key differentiator. However, having team members with experience and a startup or two under their belts also creates a good chance for success.

For all the marketers out there who have not worked with startups but have thought about it, I encourage you to jump in and try it. For me and my company, it's been such an amazing experience that has begun to transform our culture and our marketers. For brand marketers who collaborate with startups, the experience educates and excites everyone with so many possibilities: speed, agility, failure and success, and better marketing that connects with consumers in ways previously thought unimaginable.

Jennifer Marlo is the content manager at iMedia.

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