Five-minute interview: Jay Emmet, GM at OpenMarket (Amdocs)

Jay Emmet is general manager of OpenMarket, a transaction hub that claims to process more mobile payments and mobile messages than any other provider in the U.S. and UK. He’s also a senior vice president of parent company Amdocs. mobiThinking finds out which mobile businesses inspire him and what excites him about the mobile business.

1. What is the one thing that gets you most excited about mobile Web, mobile services and/or mobile marketing?
Mobile is truly the ultimate, instant connection to just about any type of information I need as a consumer. I couldn’t live without it. From a business perspective, consumers’ growing demands for direct interaction with major brands and other companies through the mobile channel is exciting. It’s clearly the most convenient, personal and “always on” method of communication.

2. What are your favorite (and least favorite) a) mobile Websites, b) mobile services c) mobile campaigns? What can the rest of us learn from these?
I consume a lot of news content on my smartphone, such as The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times and the distinction between optimized mobile sites and apps versus a miniaturized desktop approach is obvious. Understanding this distinction and the practical implementation is key. I also like apps that provide real utility, such as mobile banking services from Bank of America. When mobile apps are well executed they can offer greater convenience and even replace activity I might otherwise do online. At OpenMarket, our philosophy is that mobile services are most effective when they engage consumers directly – regardless of channel or device. Marketers must create relevant programs that are specific to their goals, while ensuring they use the right medium. That could be straightforward text messaging, rich media like MMS, sophisticated applications, or mobile web, depending on the audience.

3. Who is the new kid on the block – the mobile site/business to watch for the future?
Mobile entertainment is a dynamic growth area, and we’ve recently seen mobile streaming media skyrocket. 14 percent of U.S. mobile users now watch videos on their mobile devices, according to Nielsen. Furthermore, 29 percent of U.S. smartphone users stream music or Internet radio to their phones, a 66 percent increase from 2010. In addition to the industry stalwarts, new services like Spotify are feeding consumer demand for instant access to the entertainment content they want on their mobile devices.

4. What (vertical) sector would you say is furthest ahead in mobile Web/mobile marketing? What can the rest of us learn from this sector?
Retailers have come a long way with using mobile advantageously. Major brands like Amazon, Coke, Papa John’s, and Target have launched successful mobile campaigns that reward customers with coupons or loyalty points from which they can track ROI. We’ve also seen the Starbucks card make waves as a highly effective marketing campaign and payments mechanism, which indicates consumers’ willingness to transact large volumes of small purchases on their mobile devices. This is a unique use case, but it shows how consumer behavior is evolving to actually paying for goods and services on their phones.

5. What’s the most exciting/inspirational country/part of the world for mobile Internet/mobile marketing? What can the rest of us learn from there?
I spent two weeks in India last year – a market that has seen explosive growth in the number of subscribers and has a fairly young demographic. Not only are consumers buying handsets, but they are also getting cheaper data plans which will clearly benefit corporations and future business opportunities. Being there reinforced the breadth of opportunities mobile phones are creating across the globe, with operators such as Bharti Airtel playing a big role. Mobile technology is empowering virtually every person, and it’s great to be involved in that evolution.

6. What technology or initiative is most likely to revolutionize mobile Web/marketing? What sites/brands use this to maximum effect?
Location-based services are a hot growth area. According to a recent report from JiWire, 53 percent of consumers would share their location to receive more targeted, relevant content on their mobile devices. Marketers and popular services such as Foursquare have recognized the value of this data. I think once people become more comfortable with the technology, they’ll see greater value in relevant coupons and offers coming their way, and that will lead to even more growth.

7. If you could wave your magic wand and change one thing in the industry, what would it be?
That people would have a greater understanding of personal privacy issues. Most consumers view their mobile phones as very personal devices, which makes mobile privacy a particularly sensitive issue. In the past year, issues location data tracking have raised these concerns even higher on consumers’ radar. Location-aware technologies can leverage data to make mobile services extremely relevant for users. However, the concept of collecting and, potentially, storing this data can be unnerving for consumers. While some restrictions may be inevitable, are consumers really ready to forfeit the broader benefits of location-based services? Instead of simply clamping down on these capabilities with strict regulations, awareness and transparency may be the answer. In these conditions, most consumers are willing to sacrifice some privacy for the wide array of benefits and increased convenience that location-aware mobile services offer.

8. What’s the biggest mistake in mobile Web/marketing?
The biggest mistake is thinking of the mobile experience as simply a smaller version of the PC desktop. If you decide that mobile messaging is relevant to your target audience, then invest significant time and resources to ensure success. Just because you build something doesn’t mean people will come, so companies must incorporate mobile marketing programs into their existing media channels to drive results. Also, listening to consumers, building in feedback mechanisms and checkpoints, and adjusting programs based on real results is essential. It’s not all about apps all the time – but it must be about the consumer experience.

9. What are the most useful resources – sites, must-read books, associations etc. for mobile marketers?
I read a wide variety of publications for my mobile marketing news, including Advertising Age,, FierceMobileContent and MobileMarketingWatch. There are also several popular and recurring mobile marketing guides from publications such as Mobile Marketer that offer insight into the latest industry challenges and examples of successful executions. For many years, I have been professionally involved in the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF) and Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA) which are all great resources for learning more about the mobile marketplace.

10. Which mobile-marketing guru would you like to do our five-minute interview next?
I recommend Jeff Hasen, CMO at HipCricket. He is seriously passionate about mobile marketing and is a familiar face at nearly every mobile conference and event. His new book, Mobilized Marketing, has been named one of the top marketing books of 2012.

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