Five-minute interview: Richard Ting, R/GA

Richard Ting is global executive creative director for mobile and social platforms at R/GA. He has worked with Nike, Verizon Wireless, Nokia, J&J, MasterCard and Walmart, among others, focusing on creating integrated digital engagement across the Web, mobile and social media platforms. Ting (working with his R/GA colleagues) has received innumerable awards including the Cannes Titanium Lion Grand Prix for the Nike+ FuelBand, Grand Clio, D&AD Black Pencil and multiple MMA trophies. He blogs at and tweets to more than 10,000 followers at @flytip.
• Richard Ting was recommended for the five-minute interview by Jeff Hasen, Hipcricket.

Q1. What is the one thing that gets you most excited about mobile Web, mobile services and/or mobile marketing?
The richness of the mobile channel is really exciting right now. Smartphone adoption is at an all-time high and the devices are sophisticated enough now to support a wide array of experiences across the channel. In the past year, we’ve seen advances in mobile display advertising, mobile search, responsive Web, native apps, geo-location, mobile in retail and mobile commerce. For marketers, that all means that almost anything is possible in the mobile channel.

Q2. What are your favorite (and least favorite) a) mobile Websites, b) mobile services and/or c) mobile campaigns? What can the rest of us learn from these?
a) Mobile Websites
Right now, I really love – it’s the Website of Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah, that looks excellent when viewed on a mobile. It’s such a slick design with beautiful navigation transitions and it really pushes the boundaries of what’s possible in a mobile browser. Hopefully, it will inspire the next generation of designers to be fresh about usability, gestures and craftsmanship for mobile.
Another mobile Web site I love is Google’s Chrome Experiments for mobile. It’s a showcase of mobile creative experiments programmed in HTML5, and each of the projects highlighted begins to paint a picture of what the future of the mobile browser has in store for us.
b) Mobile service
I’m loving Uber, the on-demand car service. It works like a charm, especially in towns like San Francisco and Chicago. Not only is the service great for when you need a private car to come pick you up in a hurry, but also the end-to-end user experience is a pleasure to navigate. The user just needs to open the app, set the pickup location and request a pickup. Everything about the service is well thought out and designed. (Uber is available via iPhone/Android apps, mobile Web and SMS).
c) Mobile campaign
One of my favorite mobile campaigns of 2012 was the Carling Black Label Be the Coach campaign from Cape Town, South Africa. By using simple SMS and mobile Web technology, fans could crowd source the selection and substitution of players on game day. Aside from loving the idea, I felt that the use of SMS and mobile Web was highly appropriate for the market.

Video case study: Be The Coach (South Africa).

Q3. Who is the new kid on the block – the mobile site/business to watch for the future?
Vine – it’s an app from Twitter that lets users capture and share six-second looping videos. It’s similar to Twitter and Instagram in its ability to let users tell a quick short story. It’s still in its infancy, but I believe that Vine will create a new form of storytelling. The WSJ, for example, recently reported from New York Fashion Week using Vine. I think we’ll start to see brands embrace the six-second spot and use Vine to produce vignettes, slide shows and stop-motion animations.
Another start-up I’ve got my eye on is Nomi. The aim of this platform is to help retailers track customer interactions across multiple channels – on-line, mobile and in-store. With most retailers moving towards omni-channel and struggling to close the measurement loop across channels, Nomi fills a white space. The company is still developing its product, but the potential to know more about your customers’ behaviors across channels, and ability to use that knowledge to deliver better marketing and CRM programs, is quite compelling.

Q4. What (vertical) sector would you say is furthest ahead in mobile?
There are lots of vertical sectors killing it in mobile right now. The travel, food, entertainment and health and wellness industries are all thriving in mobile, but one business that has been completely transformed by mobile is retail. Mega-giants like eBay and Amazon have made the move quickly into mCommerce and are seeing much greater results than anyone would have expected. We’re also seeing mobile start-ups like Shopkick, Wrapp and Swipely transform offline retail experiences.

Q5. 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?
There’s a lot of innovation happening all over the globe. Right now, the U.S. is red hot, but very reliant on high fidelity, high-bandwidth app experiences. Markets like Japan and Korea are leading the way in m-commerce and m-payments, but I’m always inspired by what’s happening in Africa with the rapid adoption of mobile financial services. By using simple SMS technology, Kenya’s Safaricom launched a simple mobile payment and transfer service called M-PESA. The service has been so successful that the model is being replicated across the continent. These mobile money services can potentially offer simple banking services to the 700 million people in Africa with mobile devices, the majority of whom do not have a bank account. Without M-PESA, this revolution would never have happened.

Q6. What technology or initiative is most likely to revolutionize mobile Web/marketing? What sites/brands use this to maximum effect?
I think connected devices and their companion mobile apps will begin to open the doors of possibility for mobile. The mobile experience doesn’t have to just start and stop on the device any more. Users can now initiate or conclude an experience on a connected device. We have already seen Nike use Bluetooth to connect the innovative Fuelband to the smartphone. Other connected devices that have piqued my interest are the Nest Learning Thermostat, Withings Body Scale/Analyzer and Parrot Flower Power plant sensor/app. With the rise of Bluetooth low energy (BLE), mobile marketers and mobile product designers will increasingly be able to leverage connected devices that utilize sensors and data to tell a better brand story or give the user a more relevant experience.

Video demo: Parrot Flower Power plant sensor/app.

Q7. If you could wave your magic wand and change one thing in the industry, what would it be?
More spending in the mobile channel, of course.

Q8. What’s the biggest mistake in mobile Web/marketing?
There are two areas for adjustment:
1) Brands and marketers not thinking holistically about the mobile channel and failing to incorporate larger business/marketing objectives into the mobile strategy. This has hurt spending in the channel because brands and agencies have created isolated and nonstrategic work that ultimately makes it that much harder to sell through future projects and secure larger budgets.
2) Measurements / metrics need to be adjusted for mobile – desktop metrics don’t transfer perfectly to mobile, thus don’t provide the truest understanding of channel interactions and engagement.

Q9. What are the most useful resources – sites, must-read books, associations etc – for mobile marketers?
Mobile Marketing Association; IAB’s Mobile Center of Excellence; Google’s GoMo; Mobile Marketer; Digiday; TechCrunch; all books from A Books Apart (the publishing arm of A List Apart) and anything published by Ethan Marcotte or Luke Wroblewski.

Q10. Which mobile-marketing guru would you like to do our five-minute interview next?
Ian Tait, Google Creative Labs.

The teaser image show Richard Ting speaking at the 2010 IAB conference; © IAB and Freewheel.

Recent mobiThinking five-minute interviews:

Jeff Hasen, HipcricketAndré Andrade, MEFInbar Chap, DMGLynne Gordon, BrandtoneJames Connelly, FetchKerstin Trikalitis, Out There Media; MMAScott Seaborn, XS2Jay Emmet, OpenMarketChris Bourke, MobextDr KF Lai, CEO of BuzzCityCarsten Frien, MadvertisePam Horan, Online Publishers AssociationBarney Loehnis, OgilvyOne, Asia PacificTom Eslinger, Saatchi & Saatchi

Don’t miss:

• The insiders’ guides to world’s greatest mobile markets • New country guide: Sweden
• Mobile/smartphone sales 2012: the big picture
• One third of digital consumption in the US is mobile – who is profiting?
• Guide to mobile ad networks • Latest ad network profile: Twinpine
• Guide to mobile agencies • Latest agency profile: The Hyperfactory
• Guide to mobile industry awards • Check out the video case studies: EmmasWSA Mobile
• Mobile events 2013 • best conferences, great discounts and free tickets •
• The big compendium of global mobile stats

Leave a Reply

Exclusive tips, how-tos, news and comment

Receive monthly updates on the world of mobile dev.

Other Products

Market leading device intelligence for the web, app and MNO ecosystems
DeviceAtlas - Device Intelligence

Real-time identification of fraudulent and misrepresented traffic
DeviceAssure - Device Verification

A free tool for developers, designers and marketers to test website performance
mobiReady - Evaluate your websites’ mobile readiness

© 2023 DeviceAtlas Limited. All rights reserved.

This is a website of DeviceAtlas Limited, a private company limited by shares, incorporated and registered in the Republic of Ireland with registered number 398040 and registered office at 6th Floor, 2 Grand Canal Square, Dublin 2, Ireland