Five-minute interview: Chris Bourke, Managing Director, Mobext

• Full profile of Mobext in the mobiThinking guide to mobile agencies.

Q1. What is the one thing that gets you most excited about mobile Web, mobile services and/or mobile marketing?
Psychologists say that our perception of time passes more quickly when we experience new things, so this must explain why 2010 flew by in a flash of mobile innovation. It is the speed that mobile is growing – and my perception is that the speed of growth is accelerating – that excites me. The potential to use these innovations to make a difference to consumers’ digital lives, while endearing them to brands, is a breath of fresh air. But it is important that we put the door handle on the consumers’ side of the communications door so that they may gently pull branded services toward them, rather than having it slammed in their face with display ads.

Q2. What are your favorite (and least favorite) mobile Websites, applications, services and campaigns? What can the rest of us learn from these?
I’m a firm believer in the singularly focused utility of apps and I love using tools that have been exquisitely designed to execute a single task such as shopping, telling me where to go or distracting me for five minutes on the train. My favorite app of the moment is the insanely innovative Ocarina – a digital flute that uses the iPhone’s tappable screen to offer virtual finger-holes and the phone’s voice microphone serves as the mouth-piece. Pure right-side-brain thinking, this app uses the handset in ways that I bet even surprised Steve Jobs even.
On the utility side of things, I love the Red Laser
(eBay) mobile barcode scanner. The concept is simple – scan the bar-code typically found on a tag attached to a product you are interested in buying and the app will give you a list of local stores along with the best prices for the same item. Is it disruptive? Yes. Is it genius? Absolutely. Is it naughty? Just a little.

The worst app of all time has to be Hold the Button
. Masquerading as a game it’s as entertaining as finding your damp phone in the pocket of a pair of freshly washed jeans.

Q3. Who is the new kid on the block – the mobile site/business to watch for the future?
I’m incredibly fascinated by businesses that understand so called triple play behavior – consumers who watch TV, play with their laptops or tablets and their mobile phones simultaneously. I think this is going to present marketers with opportunities to connect hitherto disparate channels in brand new ways, fashion fresh synergies and extend the value of their big dollar investments on TV. My tip to watch is GetGlue which has launched a social network app that allows consumers to check in when they consume media on TV, online, in books, magazines and even their MP3 players. This is already blowing up a storm in the US with major TV networks incentivizing consumers to check in through GetGlue when they watch their shows.

Q4. What sector would you say is furthest ahead in mobile Web/mobile marketing?
Financial services is racing ahead in the UK, at least. According to M:Metrics, the growth in financial services advertising from 2009 to 2010 was 10 percent – the fastest growing vertical over that period.
This is due to a number of factors. The most obvious is that financial services can be sold over the mobile phone from a call centre. Using a simple click-to-call banner mechanic, we can leverage the close proximity of phone and internet to connect the consumer and branded services provider instantly. Moreover, the demographic of heavy mobile media users in the UK tends to skew towards high earners in the 25-40 year old age group, and these are the type of consumers that financial brands most interested in talking to.
However when running click-to-call campaigns always keep mindful of the audience ability to pay for the initial call. If you are targeting low income earners then a call-back mechanic might be more appropriate, where the consumer has the option to leave their number to receive a call from the sales consultant.

Q5. What’s the most exciting/inspirational country/part of the world for mobile Internet/mobile marketing?
Consumers in Kenya are moving online – largely using mobile handsets – at an extremely fast rate and this has been driven by recent sharp price reductions in tariffs and the wide availability of mobile services in semi-rural areas.
I think there are some great things happening in Kenya; it seems that the launch of their M-PESA
payment system for the rural ‘unbanked’ has inspired a new generation of entrepreneurs to explore how mobile might be beneficially weaved into people’s lives. Whod’da thunk you could automate a rural shack? (see the video below). Watch closely for African mobile advertising innovation in 2011, it’s all borne out of necessity. I fully expect they’ll surprise us all.

Q6. What technology or initiative is most likely to revolutionize mobile Web/marketing? What sites/brands use this to maximum effect?
Socially- and geographically-tagged video will have a profound effect on consumer’s depth of mobile usage. But this requires 4th-Generation mobile broadband to make this a reality and in many countries, such as the UK, this technology could be two years away. Today consumers tend to share photos over mobile as they know they are lighter and therefore cheaper to share; once consumers get to a point where they no longer care about the financial consequences of sharing large video files over mobile, then usage will explode. This will offer brands the opportunity to create extremely engaging content, more akin to a TV experience, and will offer unprecedented levels of one-2-one impact.

Q7. If you could wave your magic wand and change one thing what would it be?
There’s a TV show in the UK called 10 Years Younger. It aims, well, to make people look and feel, 10 years younger! To cope with the pace of mobile’s growth over the next ten years, I will need to go on that show. Are you waving that wand yet?

Q8. What’s the biggest mistake in mobile Web/marketing?
Mobile operators globally are sitting on vast mountains of data – demographic, geographic and financial. Many countries are only now beginning to use this data to create laser like targeted communications. There’s a huge discrepancy, globally, between mobile operators’ approaches to this opportunity. Turkey has already developed a multi-million Euro mobile advertising business and they innovated with adverts inside peer-to-peer text messages years before their global peers.
Other operators across the globe will catch up, but by the time they do I fear the entire mobile media ecosystem will have changed, and it will not have changed in their favor. What was their biggest mistake? Lack of speed.

Q9. What are the most useful resources – sites, must-read books, associations etc for mobile marketers?
Don’t read mobile books. You’ll only find re-constituted ideas that are already on the ‘net but 12 months out of date. Mobile moves fast so Twitter is a great way to keep in touch with developments – particularly innovation. Find inspiration from media not related to mobile – read games trade magazines, science Journals and track down sources that allow you to understand the development of mobile hardware – you need to know why battery life, storage capacity and processor speed will be the engine rooms of mobile media innovation. Understand this and you’ll build your own mental time-line of mobile innovation and its likely impact on mobile advertising.

Q10. Which mobile-marketing guru would you like to do our five-minute interview next?
Paul Berney, global marketing officer, Mobile Marketing Association.

Previous mobiThinking five-minute interviews:
Dr KF Lai, BuzzCity Carsten Frien, MadvertisePam Horan, Online Publishers AssociationBarney Loehnis, OgilvyOne, Asia PacificTom Eslinger, Saatchi & SaatchiJonathan MacDonald, JME.netEdward Kershaw, Nielsen OnlineRory Sutherland, OgilvyJuston Payne, WileyTomi Ahonen (consultant, author)Alexandre Mars, PhonevalleyRob Lawson, Limbo

Follow mobiThinking on Twitter: @mobithinking

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