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What to expect at this week?s MMA Forum in San Francisco

Brands, agencies, publishers and vendors will gather in San Francisco this week to discuss the state of the mobile industry and where it is headed in 2013. Here is a preview of what attendees and exhibitors can expect from the two-day conference.

According to Michael Becker, North America managing director of the Mobile Marketing Association, the forum?s main mission is to give marketers an honest look at where the mobile industry is today and what they can anticipate in the future. Per the executive, attendees will leave the conference with closer relationships with representatives in the field, an understanding of how to include mobile into the marketing mix and a glimpse at mainstream and emerging technologies that are expected to make a dent in the space.

?One of the unique characteristics of the MMA is that it is a ?big tent? association,? Mr. Becker said.

?This year we will see a balance of buyers, sellers and enablers in the room, including Macy?s, JP Morgan Chase, HP, Charles Schwab, Mercedes-Benz, CNN, Lowe?s, Skype, Citi-group, Disney, T-Mobile, Google, PayPal, Marriott, Ford Motor Company, Ogilvy & Mather, Walmart and many more,? he said.

Mobile mix
This year?s MMA Forum in San Francisco marks a turning point for the industry with sessions more focused on mobile?s role in the customer journey, per Mr. Becker.

?Marketers, agencies and all other authorities are fully aware that mobile represents a powerful channel to move closer to their consumers than ever before,? Mr. Becker said.

?So we are progressing the dialogue from ?why mobile? to discussing mobile as it relates to the centerpiece of the consumer experience,? he said. ?It is about reviewing what is working in terms of mobile practices and platforms, as well as how mobile is being measured to yield insights that can strengthen efficiencies within our marketing spend.?

For example, new topics around the use of mobile in data-driven and multichannel marketing will be discussed. Other themes include mobile point-of-sale, permission-based marketing and how mobile has given new life to the print and automotive industries.

?Overall, I think we are not just setting a tone for mobile marketing in 2013, we are forging a path for the entire marketing community to move forward when it comes to mobile and their marketing mix,? Mr. Becker said.

?With the insights and ideas being discussed at the San Francisco Forum, we will impart a blueprint for brands to get going with mobile now and for the future,? he said.
Below, some attendees weigh in on their expectations for this year's San Francisco MMA Forum.

Ben Gaddis, vice president of Innovation and growth at T3, Austin
It is always good to catch up with some of the people you see every year, but I am most interested in meeting some of the mobile start-ups, particularly a few based in the Bay Area focused on location and mobile sensors.

We have been pushing our clients and our teams to look beyond traditional mobile marketing and focus on how mobile can truly transform a business or a brand. How can we create new products or services? How can a brand truly differentiate through mobile, not just gain an impression?

Hopefully it will be the last time I ever hear anyone say, ?This is the year of mobile.? If it accomplishes that alone, I would call it a success!

Mark Tack, vice president of marketing at Vibes, Chicago
As an industry, we?ve got to crack the code on mobile big data and using the most powerful marketing platform available ? mobile ? to create and manage relationships over the long haul.

I am excited to hear how industry leaders are leveraging mobile as an integral part of their marketing mix, as well as how they?re using it to achieve overall business goals by fostering true one-to-one relationships with their most valuable customers.

Marketers are rapidly evolving their mobile marketing maturity, from experimentation to deploying ongoing mobile marketing programs, to ultimately achieving true mobile relationship management. To get there, however, marketers need a robust mobile strategy that aligns to overall marketing plans, a holistic approach to weaving mobile throughout the entire path-to-purchase, and to apply the principles and practices of big data in a mobile world. I think this conference will start to weave these concepts together and provide real-world examples of how marketers are implementing them, setting the tone for mobile marketing in 2013.

Jack Philbin, co-founder/CEO at Vibes
Big data is a buzzword, but a lot of people ? especially marketers ? do not really know what it means or how to leverage and capture value from all the data they have. While all this data is accumulating, the attitude we have seen so far is, 'More data is better data,' but marketers are not sure how to mine or monetize it yet. Our core belief is the best way to do this is with the most personal device ? the mobile phone ? and using all the information more strategically and in a more targeted fashion. We see mobile being a release valve for all that pent-up demand and all that accumulation of data. At the show, we would love to hear how others are leveraging mobile ? as well as other tools ? to mine through this rich data and use it to solve real business problems.

R.J. Taylor, vice president of mobile products at ExactTarget, Indianapolis
I am most looking forward to connecting with the individuals from brands, marketers, agencies and technology providers that are shaping the industry, and the future of mobile. There is a real camaraderie in the mobile space, as each constituency must work with the other to ensure we all succeed in mobile and in the greater digital marketing space.

I am excited to hear brands address how strategy and tactical efforts apply to their cross-channel efforts. With the conference theme of ?The Power of Mobile in the Marketing Mix,' I cannot wait to see what level that power is today and the near future.

Anthony Iacovone, CEO of AdTheorent, New York
We think this year?s conference can help set the tone around building a more transparent and effective mobile advertising ecosystem. Chief marketing officers of the largest advertisers need to see results in mobile before the biggest budgets move here. We have strong hope that 2013 will be the year of data-driven, results-oriented mobile advertising.

The fact that until recently mobile advertising has followed the exact path online advertising has is troublesome to me. It has the potential to be so much more transparent with a model that actually has the promise to produce a return on investment that is measurable for advertisers. I hope these concepts can be conveyed throughout the event.

Additionally the notion that real-time bidding is only strong for direct response campaigns needs to be addressed. The fact is we have as much premium targeted reach as any first-generation network, however we consistently are dealing with the correlation of RTB and DR. Breaking this barrier can help the proliferation of RTB and predictive mobile advertising, which truly benefits both advertisers and publishers alike.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York