Rafe just asked the key question: what will customers tolerate for mobile advertising. Every one of the panelists answered with the same theme, advertising has to move from a push model to a rich and interactive pull model. In plainer language, instead of getting an ad shoved in front of you, you go and get ad content and presumably do something with it beyond clicking.
On to the companies, Hovr, Transpera, XOsphere, and Zoove.
I am not going to comment on Hovr because I just don’t get gaming on mobile phones. I’d like to see some statistics on mobile gaming specific to mobile phones. While I don’t doubt there is a significant population of users, I just don’t know what the trajectory is and how they behave.
I got the impression from the panel of judges that consumer behavior in online mobile gaming is difficult to model and fickle with regard to repeatability.
Transpera is a mobile video services platform that partners with video publishers to deliver mobile channels.
I am seeing a lot of similarities between companies offering these kinds of services, including integration with existing web properties, community features (social interaction), and claimed targeted rich media advertising. I’m not sure how one would differentiate on these 3 attributes, other than actual consumer adoption, but the analytics certainly seems to be a key part of the equation.
First question from the panel was “to whom do you sell?”, which is never a good first question in this kind of format. I wasn’t sure either. Video to mobile publishers is not a category I am familiar with, but in all fairness it does sound kind of new so maybe it’s an “inside baseball” definition.
“People have been talking about video on mobile for a while but uptake has been slow, why is that?”. Good question and the answer seems to lie at the intersection of device/network capability and user behavior. Whether behavior is shifting is subject to debate but it is clear that device capability is improving and networks generally suck less for mobile video today. Daniel Rosen from AKQA Mobile, who is a judge, just confirmed this by saying it’s technology led right now and consumers just aren’t there.
XOsphere is the least inspiring of the bunch so far. They are doing something with branded applications for a wide range of purposes, kind of an everything to everyone proposition (summed up by one of the judges, “that was a montage of mobile buzzwords”). This was the longest 6 minutes of my life. Shoot me now. Please.
Zoove promises to make the web dialable by offering a dialing interface for web, content, and promotion. In a nutshell, they are putting a text overlay on SMS short codes. That’s kinda cool.
Instead of “text START to 62466” for ESPN you dial **3766 (which is ESPN). So what this means is that they are setting up a namespace overlay for mobile devices that, as they say, makes the web dialable. So far this is the coolest presentation because it’s so obvious in terms of why consumers would want it and also because it’s really big in terms of vision.
Obviously there are some carrier issues with regard to the overall success because in order for it to be attractive to brands it would have to be supported by a broad spectrum of carriers. There was some interesting discussion in here about adoption of SMS messaging number and the shift in person-to-person to person-to-application.