Five-minute interview: Pam Horan, president, Online Publishers Association

As all of its members have expanded into mobile in a big way, with mobile sites and mobile applications (including paid-for ones), the Online Publishers Association (OPA) now represents some of the largest mobile destinations on the planet. As OPA president since 2006, Pam Horan, needs to keep abreast of what’s happening in mobile. Also as she’s on the road a lot she’s come to rely on mobile for her own news and eating-out needs.
The OPA is the mouthpiece of world’s leading Web publishers, representing their interests before the advertising community, the press, the government and the public.
OPA members include: ABC News (abcnews.mobi); BBC News (bbc.mobi); Disney (disney.mobi); ESPN (espn.mobi); Fox News (foxnews.mobi); Forbes (forbes.mobi); MTV (mtv.mobi); National Geographic (ngc.mobi); Reuters (reuters.mobi); Time Inc (time.mobi); The Weather Channel (weather.mobi).

Q1. What is the one thing that gets you most excited about mobile?
Mobile provides content creators with a great opportunity for new revenue streams. Smartphone applications are a good example. Mobile consumers are starting to open their wallets to pay for content. It’s often assumed that news is in abundance and available from so many sources, so consumers won’t be willing to pay, but that has been blown out of the water by the paid-for CNN News iPhone app, which has made great traction.

Q2. What are your favorite mobile Websites or services?
I travel frequently, so use mobile news etc a lot while on the road. For news I depend on the New York Times (mobile.nytimes.com), WSJ and Reuters BlackBerry app (reuters.mobi). For my food/restaurant needs, I use OpenTable (mobile.opentable.com) and Zagat (zagat.mobi). I’ve also begun checking out some social applications, including Foursquare (foursquare.com/mobile) and Gowalla (m.gowalla.com).

Q3. Who is the new kid on the block – the mobile site/business to watch for the future?
I’ve been fascinated by several start-up, members-only, private-sale fashion sites – like Rue La La (ruelala.mobi) and Billion Dollar Babes, in particular, their mobile strategies have been intriguing. Their ability to engage consumers anytime, anywhere, with effective mobile strategies should help to keep them wildly successful.

Q4. What sector would you say is furthest ahead in mobile Web/mobile marketing?
Local search provides some of the greatest opportunities and advancements. Local search is such a natural play for mobile – think how often you are out and about, wondering how to get somewhere, or what restaurants are nearby, etc.
For marketers, local information helps to improve the effectiveness of their message. Companies can build profiles around a particular location, which when layered with demographic and CRM data, allows marketers to make contextual recommendations to consumers based on time and place.
The challenge for us as content providers is to stay attentive to the evolving privacy issues. At a recent hearing with legislators focused on the commercial collection, use and sharing of location-based information on mobile devices, one question that was considered was whether mobile applications should be included in the communications law that requires mobile carriers to obtain consumer consent prior to using location data.

Q5. What’s the most exciting part of the world for mobile Internet/mobile marketing? What can the rest of us learn from there? What companies stand out particularly?
What’s happening in Eastern Europe’s telecoms market is amazing; I recently read that “mobile penetration has surpassed 130 percent” and is several times deeper than the Internet.

Q6. What technology or initiative is most likely to revolutionize mobile Web/marketing?
It has to be Apple, hands down. It’s achievement with the iPhone and the app craze it provoked has helped to accelerate the mobile platform. It has also provided a potential new business opportunity for both start-ups and established companies. It will be interesting to see how companies deliver content and entertainment on Apple’s new iPad mobile tablet.

Q7. If you could wave your magic wand and change one thing, what would it be?
I wish all marketers would measure success in a way that makes sense to their campaign goals. When we set up the OPA 10 years ago, we declared the Web the most measurable of media, because we believed the click was the panacea. The reality is that the click is a perfect metric only if you are executing a direct marketing campaign. So today, with more marketers using online advertising to build their branding strategies, the click is no longer the appropriate metric. We have to make sure we are capturing consumer behavior that is more in line with building awareness.

Q8. What’s the biggest mistake in mobile Web/marketing?
Marketers generally are beginning to recognize the personal relationship consumers have with their phones. We must be very thoughtful of consumer rights and be able to demonstrate to legislators that we won’t overstep the appropriate boundaries.

Q9. What are the most useful resources – sites, must-read books, associations etc for mobile marketers?
For mobile news, I visit MocoNews (m.moconews.net) and for in-depth mobile information I go to Mobile Marketing Watch. The Mobile Marketing Association is a good resource for guidelines and best practices.

Q10. Which mobile-marketing guru would you like to do our five-minute interview next?
Louis Gump of CNN

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

Previous mobiThinking five-minute interviews:

  • Barney Loehnis, OgilvyOne, Asia Pacific
  • Tom Eslinger, Saatchi & Saatchi
  • Edward Kershaw, Nielsen Online
  • Rory Sutherland, Ogilvy
  • Juston Payne, Wiley
  • Tomi Ahonen (consultant, author)
  • Alexandre Mars, Phonevalley
  • Rob Lawson, Limbo
  • And don’t miss:

    Further reading:

  • Global mobile stats: all latest quality research on mobile Web and marketing in one place
  • mobiThinking guide to mobile ad networks (2010)
  • The insiders’ guides to mobile Web marketing:
    Japan, Canada, USA, Germany, UK, India, Australia, Spain, South Africa, Brazil
  • Why mobile is imperative for brands in Asia: interview with Marco Gavin, Procter & Gamble
  • Mobile: it’s about the consumer, stupid: interview with Barney Loehnis, OgilvyOne, Asia
  • Conferences & awards for mobile marketers, with offers
  • mobiThinking’s page of essential links
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