Five-minute interview: Edward Kershaw, Vice President Mobile Media, EMEA, Nielsen Online

When he joined Vodafone in 2001 to head up the music business, you can almost hear Edward Kershaw’s former record industry colleagues saying ‘”Ringtones… hmm, sounds great”. Back then mobile media wasn’t much to write home about. In eight swift years, however, it’s become big business, with mobile Web and download sites providing a cornucopia of audio, video, games, news, information and utilities.
Coming via Nokia, where he was director of mobile media experiences, Kershaw has now joined Nielsen Online as vice president of mobile media, EMEA. The fact that Nielsen, that made its name measuring consumption of old media for its publishing and advertising clients, has been bolstering its mobile expertise is yet another sign that mobile media has come of age.

Q1. What is your favorite/least favorite mobile site?
There are only a handful of sites that I look at more than once a day, but I think is a great example of how to create an experience that is just right for whatever size screen you happen to be using. I use it to check the news, the weather and now and again to watch something on iPlayer.
The least favourite is more difficult: like most people, if I visit a site I think is poor, I never go back and forget them almost immediately…

Q2. What can the rest of us learn from great mobile sites like the BBC?
Embrace the fact that not all users have the latest iPhone or high-spec device, and get straight to the point with your content. There’s not much room on mobile for window-dressing – it’s all about fast and easy access to the things users need.

Q3. Who is the new kid on the block – the mobile site to watch for the future?
Although they’re hardly a new kid, I think most people in mobile are watching Nokia to see how the new mobile services portal develops. With Nokia’s reach, the company clearly has huge potential to drive Internet on mobile forward, especially in the emerging markets where it dominates.

Q4. What sector would you say is furthest ahead in mobile Web/mobile marketing?
There’s been some great work from the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector. Walkers Crisps (PepsiCo) seem very into mobile, with competitions and downloads on the mobile site and a game available as a downloadable application. Mobile was central to The ‘Do Us a Flavor’ promotion, where consumers competed for the right to create a new crisps flavor, then 1.2 million people voted via free SMS, email, the mobile site and Facebook for the finalists.
Also the superb Lynx/Axe (Unilever) Get in There mobile campaign still makes me smile each time I catch it. See the video case study and mobile site.

Q5. What can the rest of us learn from brands like Walkers and Lynx/Axe?
Make things fun. Perhaps we’re all rather shallow, but it seems like fun and engaging wins every time.

Q6. What’s the most exciting/inspirational place in the world for mobile Internet/mobile marketing?
London – though I would say that of course. It’s the international capital where the world’s major brands base themselves, with a vibrant creative community, and one of the most willing and technologically capable audiences in the world. Perhaps we’re not as mobile-mad as some places in the Far East, but the UK usage and attitude stats speak for themselves.

Q7. What can the rest of us learn from the UK?
Don’t restrict your mobile marketing campaigns to affluent twenty-somethings – the perceived demographic with smartphones and 3G all-u-can-surf data plans. Companies such as Color Catcher have proved that you can get excellent results
by simply using day-time TV commercials to invite mums to text in.

Q8. What’s the most exciting area of mobile marketing?
The uptake of downloadable applications, particularly from Apple’s App Store has been the biggest surprise. A couple of years ago, I don’t think any of us could have predicted that people would be downloading quirky, single-purpose applications… by the billion! It’s moved the debate away from banners and CPM (cost per thousand impressions) into engagement, which is where mobile’s value really lies. Increasingly we’re seeing branded apps or apps that carry their own advertising.

Q9. What should we take away from the apps business?
With so many apps to choose from, to be successful yours has to stand out, it has to be fun and engaging – lots of apps are just plain boring. When brands and agencies focus on engaging their audiences in a fun, interesting, innovative way, they get results. It doesn’t matter whether you’re making a racing game for your new car, such as the VW Polo Challenge, or providing a directory service for restaurants, those who make things fun capture the audience’s attention.

Q10. What’s the biggest mistake in mobile Web/marketing?
Assuming mobile is just like PC-based Internet, and that all the old rules still apply.

Q11. What is the most useful resource site and/or must-read book for mobile marketers?
It hurts me to say so, but I’d be skeptical whether book publishing can really keep up in this fast-moving area. There are plenty of things to read in the blogosphere – I like Andrew Grill’s blog London Calling – and there’s a wealth of useful facts and insight on the Mobile Marketing Association and Internet Advertising Bureau websites.

Q12. Which mobile-marketing guru would you like to do our five-minute interview next?
Jonathan MacDonald is always worth listening to. It’s good to hear from someone who’s not afraid of sharing his opinions.

Which mobi guru would you like see interviewed next? Comment below or email editor (at)

Other mobiThinking five-minute interviews:

  • Jonathan MacDonald,
  • Rory Sutherland, Ogilvy
  • Juston Payne, Wiley
  • Tomi Ahonen (consultant, author)
  • Alexandre Mars, Phonevalley
  • Rob Lawson, Limbo
  • And don’t miss:

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