There is an Internet and mobile advertising conference underway, so these days the city is full of tech and Ad guys from all over the world. I was part of an interesting forum headed by the Yahoo team on where they felt mobile advertising was heading. I entered the meeting with some bias thanks to recent news of the pummeling Yahoo has gotten from the likes of Icahn and Microsoft, but I left feeling rather elated and encouraged about their future in the business. Of course, any good management team can sell just about anything to anyone, so I am reasonably more optimistic but not about to put my money in the Yahoo pot.
Yahoo is quite entrenched in Asia (hence Microsoft’s interest) offering services that I would classify as moderately interesting. They have a system that places banners on the different sites that you visit on your phone, promising correct placement and in some cases, a fun and interactive experience. They have little spider- bots (I don’t speak nerd) that make sure that when a topic is searched, your company is placed first when browsing online. You pay when consumers click on your link and you can bid for the price of your link placement (very efficient). Lastly and what I find most interesting, they have a platform that develops an online system that is both advertising and operations related. Ex:
Citibank signs up with Yahoo, whenever “bank” is searched online, Citibank comes up and gives the customer easy links to signing up via phone, SMS, or online. If I was browsing my online stock page, I might see a banner for Citibank that drops down into a video with links to learn more or speak to a representative. If I was searching for a new home-- I might see the Citibank link to “home loans and how to apply.”
These online systems are based on user profiles and demographics, which means that they can determine where and when to be placed-- which makes it RELEVANT for the consumer. When you are browsing the net and its world of information and junk, relevant can make all the difference.
Now, all of this is not new, but in the last few months it has become easier for companies to access/understand and consumers to use. As mobile phones get faster and easier to manage. As these websites improve and look better on our smaller screens. As individuals trust and become accustomed to going about their day to day lives through their mobile phones—this mobile advertising future looks all the more lucrative.
Will this mobile net, which needs to be developed and designed differently from the Internet, be the future for advertising? Absolutely. We are going to live in a world where road warriors of today with their blackberry’s and high speed Internet connection become the majority of the public. We will be accessing our stocks, buying homes, canvassing our vacations—all on the go, whether on our computers or phones. The millions of Iphones sold is testament to the fact that good hardware and good software when paired can move generations of technological dinosaurs. If the Iphone gets any better, i can see my 89-year-old grandmother trading in her Treo—and that will be quite the feat.
So if mobile online is becoming a reality, what is going to happen to all of these WAP sites, SMS based services, the voice based Ad-Phone? Technology is leapfrogging forward and a lot of very large invested companies are going to find them without a market. That is unless they can adapt and change.
I'm quite pleased with these developments. I love technology and I enjoy making my life more efficient (its the logistics blood that runs through me). Even at the expense of my eyes (getting worse), my fingers (getting worse) and my “moments of Zen: (getting less). I think a world of information at your fingertips can only be a good thing. It makes the business landscape a lot more competitive and challenging.