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Top 10 mobile Web marketers for 2009 named

Salvador Carrillo

Salvador Carrillo is founder/CEO of Mobile Dreams Factory

The leading mobile evangelist organization has named the top 10 executives responsible for pushing mobile Web marketing in ways that shaped their companies and also the industry.

Called "The Top 10 mobiThinkers 2009," the list from .mobi domain proponent dotMobi's mobiThinking unit honors mobile executives from Nokia Interactive Advertising, The Hyperfactory, Hungama Mobile, Mobile Dreams Factory, BMW Group, AKQA Mobile, Turkcell, The Weather Channel Interactive, AdMob and Isobar. These pioneers were nominated by their peers, with the shortlist and eventual winners selected by mobiThinking.

"Each one of them are doers, though some are more active on the creative side, others on the business development side," said Andy Favell, editor of mobiThinking. "The key was that the rest of us can learn from each of them."

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Here is the list of honorees in the order of markets: Asia-Pacific, Europe and the United States.

Sandy Agarwal, director for Asia-Pacific at Nokia Interactive Advertising
An ESPN cable executive from India, Mr. Agarwal spotted the mobile opportunity on a visit to Reykjavik, Iceland. He soon started Landmat with Icelandic partners for mobile entertainment and community products.

Marc Mielau

Marc Mielau is head of digital media at BMW Group

Along the way, Landmat was acquired by Enpocket, which itself became a Nokia company in 2007. Mr. Agarwal stayed through the acquisitions, such was his faith in mobile.

Among Mr. Agarwal's key achievements is the Nokia Life Tools test project offering Indian farmers access to market prices of supplies and produce, weather and tips of the trade in many languages. Mobile subscriptions and advertising, along with sponsorships from fertilizer and seed companies and multinationals, fund the service.

Geoffrey Handley, cofounder of The Hyperfactory
The New Zealander founded his agency with brother Derek, turning The Hyperfactory into one of the most well-oiled mobile marketing firms.

Melis Turkmen

Melis Turkmen is the head of the mobile marketing and advertising unit at Turkcell

The Hyperfactory's 10 offices and 120 staff worldwide run more than 2,000 campaigns for a blue-chip roster of clients including Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson. It is a sharp contrast from 2001 when the Handleys did not have the funds to fly to Cannes, France, to collect a GSMA Award for a Cancer Society campaign. They did eventually find sponsors to fund the trip, and that tenacity has remained part of their approach to mobile.

The hands-on leader is a firm proponent of mobile's value in the multichannel marketing environment, steering clients toward a more mass-market mobile Web presence before embarking on applications for niche audiences.

Neeraj Roy, founder/CEO of Hungama Mobile
This go-to man for India's Bollywood film industry helms South Asia's largest mobile entertainment company.

Mr. Roy is one of the earliest pioneers of mobile marketing in India, running campaigns for 300 local and multinational advertisers and delivering more than 120 million messages across different databases in Hungama's decade-long existence. Hungama is the Indian term for noise.

It is said that 70 percent of Bollywood mobile content -- video, ringtones, music and games -- is funneled through Hungama either as distributor, publisher or developer. Mr. Roy in 2007 helped India's leading brewer take its Kingfisher Swim Suit Calendar mobile.

Salvador Carrillo, founder/CEO of Mobile Dreams Factory
Now who was that Spanish agency that walked away with eight gongs at the Mobile Marketing Association's 2008 awards? Few at the ceremony were aware that Mr. Carrillo is long in tooth in mobile, launching Spain's first WAP site in 1999.

The Spaniard channeled his love for mobile and soccer (European football) in an epic campaign for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, resulting in more than 1 million downloads -- with more than 20,000 concurrent users.

Mr. Carrillo and his team have convinced several brands to make their first foray into mobile -- Spanish wireless carrier Telefonica with its first branded mobile Internet service in 2006, sponsored by Coca-Cola and marking its Spanish mobile marketing debut. Yes, it was soccer-related.

Marc Mielau, head of digital media at BMW Group
In many ways, this German has set the bar for automotive mobile marketing. He is also a firm believer in integrating mobile into all business activities.

Under Mr. Mielau's direction, BMW in 2006 launched the Mobile Calculator to let German consumers calculate the cost of financing a new car using various types of loans. A application followed, letting consumers shop for a used car by texting a short code to get photographs and other details. They could also elect to have the car dealer call to arrange for a test drive.

Among his other feats, Mr. Mielau has encouraged the BMW customer relations department to add mobile phone numbers and opt-ins to the luxury automaker's database. This led to a successful MMS campaign in winter of 2007 offering opted-in mobile consumers winter tires for their BMW. 2D bar codes were also added that year in magazine ads, taking consumers who scanned them to the phone's browser and then to the new models area on http://BMW.mobi.

Daniel Rosen, head of AKQA Mobile
This decade-long veteran of mobile works at one of the most highly lauded interactive agencies. So it is no surprise that AKQA Mobile gets to put a mobile spin on campaigns and sites for Nike, Coca-Cola and Smirnoff.

Mr. Rosen takes particular pride in the Nike PHOTOiD effort that invited sneaker fans in Europe to snap something colorful and send it to a short code with the keyword DUNK. AKQA automatically created a shoe based on the colors in the image and texted the design back. Consumers could then customize the design on NikePHOTOiD.com and buy the footwear.

A Smirnoff .mobi site in 2007 led to the development of the Nighlife Guide to help customers find a bar nearby selling Smirnoff and the Pocket Bartender feature to help users choose a Smirnoff-based cocktail. And then there was the winter 2008 effort that encouraged visitors to http://Coke.mobi to design and send a mobile Christmas card to someone else.

Melis Turkmen, head of the mobile marketing and advertising unit at Turkcell
In an industry that does not attract its fair share of women, Ms. Turkmen is a standout: an indefatigable evangelist of mobile advertising and marketing who has the numbers to prove it.

When Ms. Turkmen moved in 2005 from Turkish wireless carrier Turkcell's value-added services division to run mobile marketing, her unit had revenue of only $2 million. Four years later, that unit generated $45 million in sales, with the product line expanded from three services to 22, eight agency partners evolving into 24 and a team of one now 13-strong.

Ms. Turkmen and her team have helped craft mobile campaigns for brands such as Procter & Gamble, Pepsi, Shell, BP, Coca-Cola and Unilever. Last year, Turkcell ran 650 mobile marketing projects with 276 brands in 27 industries. The carrier's pride-and-joy are its permission database, free airtime campaigns and Tone&Win ringback tone advertising platform.

Louis Gump, vice president of mobile at The Weather Channel Interactive
Mr. Gump is always on the stump. Mobile marketing in the United States has no more dedicated a champion than this peripatetic executive who speaks up for the channel at every major event or caucus. He has the street cred.

Given the nature of its focus, the Weather Channel Mobile at http://weather.mobi is one of the most popular mobile sites nationwide, attracting a Nielsen-claimed monthly mobile audience of 11.9 million unique visitors, per January data. It is ahead of content rivals ESPN and CNN and behind only Yahoo Mail, Google Search and Yahoo Messenger.

One of the earliest media properties to go mobile in 1999 -- the pioneering wired Web-based weather.com launched in 1995 -- the Weather Channel Mobile flourishes with several business models in use: banner ads, syndication of mobile video content to several distributors and customer subscriptions for applications on the BlackBerry, iPhone and Android platforms. The outlook is sunny.

Omar Hamoui, founder/CEO of AdMob
One of the pioneers in the mobile ad network space, Mr. Hamoui has launched three startups before AdMob -- Vertical Blue, GoPix and Fotochatter. Perhaps the Silicon Valley-based executive is proudest of his latest effort, the three-year-old AdMob that has gone through three rounds of funding and convinced some of the largest advertisers worldwide to run mobile banner ad campaigns.

AdMob claims to serve 4.1 billion ads monthly to consumers on more than 6,000 mobile sites and 1,000-plus iPhone and Android applications in 160 countries. Advertisers who have done business with AdMob include Land Rover, Coca-Cola, adidas, Paramount Pictures, Ford, Procter & Gamble and MTV Europe. Publishers in its network include CBS Mobile, Hollywood.com, Flirtomatic, Electronics Arts and AccuWeather.

Mr. Hamoui is said to be a hands-on executive, working closely in the recent launch of the iPhone Download Exchange. That exchange will let iPhone application developers in AdMob's network use a portion of their ad inventory to promote their application and drive downloads.

Gene Keenan, vice president of mobile services at Isobar
What's an organic farmer from California and former chef to the Grateful Dead band doing in mobile? Ask Mr. Keenan the next time you bump into him at one of the countless mobile shows nationwide and overseas.

Mr. Keenan is better known for his tireless stumping on the mobile circuit, representing the Mobile Marketing Association currently as global vice chairman and metrics crusader. Still, he finds time to push the mobile bar for agency clients such as Reebok, Marriott, Nike, adidas and Electronic Arts.

A shining moment for Isobar was in 2005 when mobile saved the whodunit "Veronica Mars" television show from cancellation. Viewers were asked to opt-in via SMS to get messages from the series, adding an interactive dimension for Veronica Mars fans and turning them into promoters of the program. Show ratings are said to have more than doubled during the campaign's run, Web site traffic quintupled and mobile ad banners got an 8 percent click-through. Mobile done it.

Industry before self
A common thread through the current honorees' list is not only the time they spent on their clients and firms, but also the numerous tours of duty they did with speaking gigs or committee responsibilities at the Mobile Marketing Association, CTIA: The Wireless Association and GSMA.

This list of top 10 mobiThinkers is set to become an annual feature.

The selection process will remain the same: Asking executives in the mobile business to nominate their heroes. Nominations this time round were restricted to executives who were actively engaged at an agency- or brand-level.

"We created a shortlist of those who were nominated most frequently or stood out and then argued a lot until we came up with 10 that represented a cross-section of the best from different areas of mobile marketing and from different parts of the globe," mobiThinking's Mr. Favell said.

"It wasn't easy," he said. "As you know, there are so many excellent candidates in mobile marketing. We hope that by drawing attention to this body of mobile creativity and best practice, we can inspire more brands to embrace mobile."

Editor in Chief Mickey Alam Khan covers advertising agencies, associations, research and mobile marketing issues, as well as column submissions. Reach him at mickey@napean.com.

 
Related content: Advertising, DotMobi, mobiThinking, Andy Favell, mobile Web, mobile advertising, mobile marketing, mobile

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