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Mobile Web connects brands to consumers: Netbiscuits panel

NEW YORK ? At Netbiscuits? partner day, brand representatives from companies such as Universal Music Group, MTV Networks and Bango shared their mobile strategies, tips and success.

Each company has used Netbiscuit?s services or partnered with the company to address challenges on the mobile platform. The presenters also shared their unique views on several aspects of mobile.

?I hate SMS,? said Simon Berger-Perrin, director of mobile at OLX, New York "We're focusing on the mobile Web."

Mr. Berger-Perrin discussed his company?s struggles getting a toe-hold in the U.S. mobile ecosystem.

OLX is a free classifieds listing service that is available on the wired Web and on the mobile Web at

Mr. Berger-Perrin said that OLX is like, except it is mainly for European users.

While the OLX platform is available on the PC Web, its mobile Web component allows consumers to do more than just browse listings.

On OLX?s mobile site, consumers can find results from search engines in several countries, including Yahoo in India.

Users can also search their home city, browse all Web and mobile listings, view full-screen pictures, manage a list of favorites, reply to sellers, click-to-call sellers, post pictures and listings from the mobile handset and manage listed items.

OLX is ad-supported and because it is free. Mr. Berger-Perrin said that the company has had trouble getting on the deck of wireless carriers in the United States.

Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group is home to hundreds of recording artists such as Amy Winehouse and Jon Bon Jovi. Its subsidiaries include record labels such as Geffen and Motown Records.

?We found in the Latin American market, more and more people were using mobile as their primaryaccess point to the Internet,? said Craig Besnoy, vice president of business development at Universal Music Group, New York.

Because of the increasing usage of the mobile Web, Mr. Besnoy said that the primary challenge for Uniiversal Music Group is to use the mobile platform for each of the artists the company represents.

Mr. Besnoy said that Universal represents approximately 250 music artists and that he is using Netbiscuits to create WAP sites to let consumers interact with artists via mobile. 

?We think that a mobile Web presence can help us connect to fans,? Mr. Besnoy said.

Universal has had success with mobile commerce through ringtone sales. The company hopes to create mobile fan clubs to promote premium content buys.

Mr. Besnoy said that a mobile Web site is an integral part of his company's strategy to directly communicate to consumers and give artists the set of tools to have a one-to-one relationship with their fans.

Universal Music Group said that its most daunting task is leveraging the 250 Web sites for each of its artists. It is leveraging XML feeds and hooking them up to content management systems and porting them into predefined templates.

Gold Mobile
Gold Mobile shared its campaign with Compass Group, a food service organization that serves companies such as Microsoft and Bank of America.

Compass Group wanted to drive traffic into its location and turned to Gold Mobile?s CRM system to help get more seats in the cafeteria.

Gold Mobile provided Compass Group an individual system for each location and another for managers.

The company created Zipthru Connect for Compass Group and used 2D bar codes to get consumers to opt-in.

?There are integrated 2D bar codes driving to a WAP site so consumers can get nutrition information right on their phone and they can opt-in to find out daily specials, what?s on the menu and coupons,? said Bob Gold, president of Gold Mobile, Clark, NJ.

Gold Mobile is currently introducing special functions for consumers with dietary restrictions to be served information that meets their needs.

Mr. Gold said that there are many types of guests that Compass Groups sees on a daily basis.

For the frequent consumer, Compass Group wanted to increase transactions by giving them special offers such as "buy a meal, get half off of a dessert" to increase the consumer?s time spent in the cafeteria.

Bango is a mobile Web billing specialist that works with carriers to sell more mobile content.

Adam Kerr, vice president of North America at Bango, said that his company has more than 10,000 customers in more than 30 countries.

Bango recently surveyed agencies and brands on the must-haves of mobile and found that data accuracy, similar metrics to the PC and mobile-specific data are the top needs.

Less than 25 percent of brands were confident in the accuracy of mobile metrics, according to Bango.

Mr. Kerr said that Bango helps form an accurate way of measuring success, as well as tracking payments and where people are spending money.

Bango had to develop new tools to measure data on mobile because traditional tools do not deliver significant mobile data.

Mr. Kerr cited BlackBerry phones, which disable some measurement features, and the Opera browser, which makes United States users look like they are coming from Norway.

Mobile can track exactly where people are coming from, Mr. Kerr said.

For example Papa John?s Pizza puts a Bango tag on each page to see what is happening with the consumer.

The tag lets Papa John?s see if the consumer comes from a banner advertisement and sees how far the user goes on the mobile site and if it results in a sale.

Mr. Kerr said that he is looking forward to the carriers releasing more information about their subscribers.

AT&T is starting to release good information, which is valuable to marketers such as consumer location and gender.

MTV Networks
MTV Networks has a central person assigned to each brand to develop products, ideas and business models.

?We believe mobile is the best way to reach people wherever they are,? said Joe Lalley director of product development at MTV Networks, New York. ?The mobile Web is the best way to get people into other areas.?

Mr. Lalley said that MTV cross-promote its products through the mobile Web, applications, games, messaging and video as crossovers to personal content.

On MTV?s mobile Web site, Mr. Lalley said that the company has a large-scale ringtone subscription base where it integrates content.

For example, if consumers are on ?The Hills? Web site, they can see what songs were featured in the latest Web site and are given the option to download a ringtone of the song.

Mr. Lalley said that his brands are lucky because the company has several venues on which it can promote its content, including online and television.

One of the most popular features on Comedy Central?s WAP site is subscription-based jokes, which consumers can sign-up to receive.

For VH1, the music channel just launched an application that features photos from VH1 TV programs.

The VH1 mobile site has a link to the application, leveraging both platforms for cross-promotion.

Consumers can also send articles from sites to their mobile devices to continue reading. Mr. Lalley said that this option features several ways to monetize content.

One way MTV is driving repeat visits is by featuring photo-caption contests on the Comedy Central WAP site.

Mr. Lalley said the contests have created a community where the network sees repeat visits from fans of the network coming up with captions.

?The feature does well with people interacting regularly,? Mr. Lalley said. ?Alerts are sent out when a new image is posted to be captioned - it?s one way to keep people coming back to the site.?

Another MTV strategy includes mobile clubs with VIP lists.

These clubs are brand-specific and Mr. Lalley said that they have seen a lot of success on TeenNick with consumers between the ages of 13 and 15.

The mobile sites feature a section to sign-up for the mobile club. The club sends alerts tied into the specific TV program, making the show interactive for fans.

MTV?s Spike channel, which has an audience base of 18-34-year-old males, launched a WAP site recently that outperformed all of MTV?s other sites.

Ringleader Digital
Bob Walczak, president of Ringleader Digital, said his ad network focuses solely on serving mobile advertisements across channels.

?We try and enable the online ad-serving methodology in mobile, it?s taking a lot of learning to make it interoperable from the buy side to the sell side,? Mr. Walczak said.

Mr. Walczak said that Ringleader Digital?s Media Stamp technology has created the equivalent of cookies for the mobile platform.

Media Stamp works across all devices and does not need to be installed on a device.

The technology enables tracking and real-time content extraction, sort of like a search engine to pull out keywords to target back against the content.

?We?re finding this to be a more powerful piece of technology,? Mr. Walczak said. ?It?s very scalable and can integrate by simple image tags.?
Mobile mistakes?
During the question-and-answer portion, the presenters were asked what their biggest mistake in mobile was and advice they can give others to prevent it from happening again.

?Mobile is very important in terms of MTV?s overall marketing strategy,? Mr. Lalley said. ?A mistake we made was being almost too targeted around a lot of different shows on MTV Networks.?

Mr. Lalley said that MTV created mobile VIP clubs around every show, but found that shows were not lasting past one season or were even getting canceled in the middle of its first season.

Because of this, Mr. Lalley said that MTV had a series of small groups that did not know what to do with.

Mr. Berger-Perrin of OLX advised marketers to respect the opt-in permission-based marketing guidelines set forth by the MMA.

?Don?t do half the job,? Mr. Berger-Perrin said. ?Opting-in is really important and be really clear what consumers are opting-in for.

?It?s not email you can put in spam folders,? he said. ?SMS is special - you assign special sounds to people you like for when they message you.

?Don?t have opt-ins just for the sake of collecting opts-in, it can break your business.?

Mr. Kerr said that mobile needs to be viewed like online, despite the fact that he predicts that the mobile Web will be bigger than the PC Web soon.

?Don?t view mobile as mobile,? Mr. Kerr said.