Five-minute interview: Scott Seaborn, XS2

Scott Seaborn recently joined Netherlands-based XS2 as executive creative director (ECD), from Ogilvy Group, where he created the mobile division that was responsible for acclaimed mobile campaigns such as Fanta Stealth Sound System and the IBM Wimbledon ‘Seer’ application. (Find out more in this Ogilvy profile). Incidentally, both campaigns were produced in partnership with XS2. The Dutch agency recently picked up a Silver Mobile Lion at Cannes.

1. What is the one thing that gets you most excited about mobile Web, mobile services and/or mobile marketing?
The thing that gets me excited is people. People are literally in love with their mobile phones. My job is to come up with ideas for content/programs/experiences on mobile devices – and when your audience loves the channel as much as people do today, it is really exciting. Further to this, we are getting to grips with the format of mobile now. We know how to use the unique elements of mobile devices to tell stories or deliver emotional experiences. A deep understanding of the format (the creative palette, if you will) of mobile, coupled with the audiences’ deep relationship with the medium ensures that the work is interesting and exciting.

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 really like Paper by Fifty Three Studios, because it humanizes the experience of writing on the iPad. I have so many mobile campaigns/sites/apps etc that I do not like, it’s hard to choose the least favorite. For mobile services I really detest anything that has been developed just to make money from advertising. If you are producing something with the sole aim to make money (from advertisers) then you are not producing anything. For brand campaigns and apps (etc), I really don’t like work that is too gimmicky and doesn’t ask the question, “What is in it for them?” If you are asking the audience to find your app, download it, open it up and look around, then there had better be something in it for them! Otherwise you will just be getting on their nerves (and mine).

3. Who is the new kid on the block – the mobile site/business to watch for the future?
I am not just saying this because it’s my new employer, but XS2 is the new kid on the block! The recent Cannes Mobile Lion for The 360º NS Royal Waiting Rooms helps to prove it. Plus, they must be good to entice me from my dream job at Ogilvy. So, watch this space…

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?
Apart from banking (the mobile innovations of which have been well-documented), I’d say the tourism business has been one of the earliest to embrace the mobile opportunity. There are many city guides, travel apps and CRM/loyalty schemes that have achieved great return on investment (ROI). Mobile pays a significant role throughout the industry from discovery, booking and traveling through to destination, accommodation and ticketing. Take airlines for example, the mobile boarding pass delivers significant ROI, not just from attracting more sales, but also from creating operational efficiencies and cost savings. Also live flight information and booking have proven successful innovations on mobile. Brands have also benefited from this, producing branded travel apps, for visitors to events like the Olympics, for example.
What we can learn is quite simple: define how mobile fits in to the customer’s journey, assess how mobile can add utility and value, then create services that people get a real benefit from.

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?
The exciting countries are the ones where the audiences’ first experience of the Web is on mobile. From a global perspective, laptops and PCs are actually a barrier to the internet because they are expensive. These markets are, of course, also the ones with more mobile phones in them. The problem is that the IT market is very price sensitive in these markets. There will always be somebody who can undercut you by 90 percent to develop what they claim will be “exactly the same site”. The reality is that the work is inferior, but the price-driven culture of mid-market firms means they will usually go with the cheaper option.
From an inspirational point of view, I would say that London (UK) and Amsterdam (Netherlands) are looking very cool at the moment. London’s Shoreditch is stuffed full of agencies and studios that are consistently coming up with good mobile ideas. In Amsterdam we have always seen agencies with inspirational projects and cool executions, but the mobile agency landscape in Holland, generally, is really hotting up. There are lots of talented developers and creative technologists here and innovation seems to be part of the Dutch culture.

6. What technology or initiative is most likely to revolutionize mobile Web/marketing? What sites/brands use this to maximum effect?
Radio frequency identification (RFID) will cause a revolution in mobile. But wider than that, it will create a new sector – connected media. Through RFID, digital objects will be hyper-connected. Many things are already connected to the Internet, but with RFID and mobile they will be able to connect with each other. We are already seeing this with train ticket terminals for example, but in the future we will see all sorts of things becoming digital and connected, such as fridges, TVs, cars and buildings.

7. If you could wave your magic wand and change one thing in the industry, what would it be?
Global warming (and the way people are systematically killing the planet)! That’s obviously not just a mobile issue, but the mobile industry has its part to play. I often wonder/worry about all the batteries. There are 6 billion mobile phone subscribers around the world, replacing their handsets ever couple of years – all those phones have a toxic battery at their heart. What happens to all these batteries?

8. What’s the biggest mistake in mobile Web/marketing?
The biggest mistake is re-purposing material. It is an absolute no-no to take something from TV, outdoor or the Web and then re-size and put it on mobile. Things need to be re-designed, not only in their architecture but in every element. Is it well known that people are looking for different information via mobile, but they are also looking at the information differently!

9. What are the most useful resources – sites, must-read books, associations etc – for mobile marketers?
The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) has always been a great help, as has the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB). I find following industry leaders on Twitter is a great way to pick up on the latest news. Also there are many great blogs and publications such as Mobile Marketing Magazine, Mobile Marketer and mobiThinking.

10. Which mobile-marketing guru would you like to do our five-minute interview next?
Tomi Ahonen.

• mT Ed: Actually we’ve interviewed him already:
• Interview with Tomi Ahonen

Previous mobiThinking five-minute interviews:
Kerstin Trikalitis, Out There Media; MMAJay 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:
• Shouldn’t mobile sites be as accessible as PC sites?
• A Day in the life of a US mobile commerce user: stats on who, what, when, where of m-commerce
• Confessions of a Cannes Mobile Lions jury member • with tips for awards entrants •
• Guide to mobile agencies • latest profile: The Hyperfactory •
• Cannes Mobile Lions winners 2012 – winners with videos and case studies
• Guide to mobile ad networks 2012 • with 5 new ad networks •
• Mobile events 2012: best conferences, great discounts and free tickets
• Role of mobile in publishing – friend or foe? Interview with Judith Curr, Atria Books
• The insiders’ guides to world’s greatest mobile markets
• Guide to mobile industry awards
• The big compendium of global mobile stats

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