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QR codes are not hot today: CTIA panelist

SAN FRANCISCO - For brands and marketers to drive revenue growth, they must understand what goes into building a successful mobile strategy, according to panelists at CTIA Wireless 2010.

During the ?Aligning Brand Interest with Mobile Opportunity? panel, speakers agreed that brands should focus on consumer interaction and how customers use mobile in their day-to-day lives. The panel was moderated by Steven Spencer, president of Cayuga Services, New York.

?When we look at it, the first thing we look at is the consumer,? said Mark Kaplan, founder of Gem Strategy, New York.

?What do they do with their mobile device, do they interact with other touch points?? he said. ?What we do then is build a brand story ? what we are going to be telling the consumer.

?Look at your experience and lifestyle branding, lifestyle services and deliver the brand proposition, so it correlates with the consumer?s lifestyle.?

Tips for brands
Brands should lead with their internal marketing organization and not an IT team, Mr. Kaplan said.  

According to Charlie Echeverry, senior vice president of Univision, Los Angeles, there are a lot of brands that do not understand consumers.

Add that that to the fact that many companies have not yet understood the potential for mobile ? and the next step is figuring out what to do as a brand.

?We tend to overcomplicate things in some cases as marketers,? Mr. Echeverry said. ?Relevance is as important in a radio campaign as it is in a TV campaign and its equally important from a mobile standpoint ? relevance is key.

?You have to utilize relevance to have your brand be part of the message you want to get out,? he said.

Focus on mobile
Scott Michaels, vice president of Atimi Software, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, advises brands not to set the bar too low.

However, brands should not solely focus on producing an application, similar to other competitors, such as a popular eightball shaker application, that when shaken, plays a video.

?It comes down to timing,? Mr. Michaels said. ?In the beginning you could have done an eight ball shaker app, but not now.

?You have to realize that you have to market your application,? he said. ?You have to spend to get your app out there ? and people forget about that.?

Say no to QR codes
When advising their clients, the panelists agreed that they do not generally advise them to use QR codes.

Although fairly popular with consumers, the panelists said that QR codes do not scale very well.

?No human knows the difference between ScanLife and every other [2D bar code reader application],? Mr. Kaplan said. ?It?s just a funny little thing ? users download the wrong app reader, it doesn?t work.

?Regardless of what the code looks like, if the reader is incompatible, it just won?t work,? he said. ?QR codes are not hot today ? unless you?re in Japan.?

Web versus apps
Brands going into mobile nowadays are focusing most of their attention on creating applications ? and although popular with consumers ? applications might not be right for every company.

For companies looking to invest in applications, they must first do some research to ensure that they are hitting the right market for their customers.

?You can hit the iOS platform first ? with the iPhone and iPod touch,? Atimi's Mr. Michaels said. ?Then go after Android and BlackBerry operating systems.

?The vast majority is on the iOS and that?s where people are spending their money today,? he said.

Paul Reddick, CEO of Handmark, Kansas City, MO, mostly works on applications, but said that the mobile Web has reach.

?But, applications have more intense and passionate use,? Mr. Reddick said.

When working with applications, Mr. Reddick suggests synchronizing campaigns and making sure that they launch on Android, iPhone and BlackBerry devices simultaneously.

?You don?t want to say you have a Burger King app and its only available on Android,? Mr. Reddick said.

Local advertising
There is also a huge opportunity for local advertising.

?There is a massive opportunity,? Mr. Reddick said. ?It?s largely untapped ? there?s a lot of friction in the system right now for local advertisers to get into mobile.

?But it?s hard for those local advertisers to get into mobile,? he said. 

From left: Mark Kaplan, Charlie Echeverry, Paul Reddick, Scott Michaels

Final Take
At the conclusion of the panel, Mobile Marketer's Rimma Kats interview Mr. Kaplan. Here is what he said.