Thursday 16 June 2011

Was IAB Engage for Mobile evidence that Mobile getting there?

Anyone following my Twitter feed may have noted that I was at the IAB Engage for mobile event on Tuesday. There was a pretty impressive line up with representation from the likes of Google, Microsoft, Orange, M&S, Sky, Telegraph Media Group, Navteq, P&G, Unilever and the COI on the stage, in addition to the impressively intelligent Brian Cox.

The day took the usual form, albeit nicely presented with a "Mastermind" theme, with plenty of stats and brand case studies on show.

What was particularly significant was the scale of the event - the largest mobile event in the UK I understand - and commanding the attention of c.500 delegates in the room and more via the live stream, for the entire day (last year was a half-day affair).  Typically, mobile industry events tend to be a bit of a circle-jerk, with the usual names and faces, talking about much the same things,  to the rest of the mobile industry.  This has been a frustration for a while because it is often very much a case of preaching to the converted, we (Mobile industry insiders) all know just how effective Mobile can be - it is the brands and agencies outside of Mobile that we need to get in the ears of.  Now I don't know how many of the audience were indeed "outsiders" who were new to mobile, but I hope it was a fair few (that would at least make up for the "formulaic" nature of some of the content).

In the order that I noted them down, some of the big/interesting stats that I came out with were (no warranties will be made as to the voracity of any of these!):

- By 2014, mobile devices will be the primary channel for accessing the internet
- 10% of all Bing searches are made via Mobile
- The typical "purchase funnel" (from search to purchase) is 1 hour on mobile vs. 1 month online
- 50% of mobile internet users start with a search
- 79% of Google's advertisers do not have a mobile optimised site
- Between Orange Shots and O2 More there are 4m opted-in users
- 65% of CEOs say that mobile is on their agenda
- Android tablets, whilst making up 14% of the market consisting of over 100 devices
- 97% of all purchases are made in a physical retail location

You'll also be able to see a shed-load more comment and stats by searching for the hashtag #iabmobile on Twitter.

Now you can pick the bones out of all of that - and I am sure that many people will be for a while to come - but it all adds up to one thing for me.

You see, I consider myself lucky that I am involved in a market that is on the up.  Mobile is receiving the kind of attention that would have been unimaginable back in the early 1990s and there are many factors that are converging to make that the case - be it device penetration, technologies such as NFC, HTML5/CSS3, cloud-computing, LBS, changing user behaviour or the support of digital behemoths such as Apple, Microsoft and Google.

But a word of warning.  There still exist barriers to brands fully exploiting the market...  There is still a lack of understanding across brands and agencies (be that traditional or digital) which can often foster a reluctance to engage with the medium and internal issues, such as the recognised challenges with measurement and a lack of skills, can hinder growth and investment.  These will be addressed, but they should not be ignored.

But overall, if IAB Engage for Mobile did nothing else, it demonstrated how far Mobile has come in only the last 12 months.

Maybe we'll be at the Wembley Exhibition Centre in 2012.


  1. Here is hoping that the prediction about 2014 mobile over taking PC internet is true - suspect they are talking volume of devices not time or data unfortunately.

    Think with the agencies ultimate the stick will be more powerful than the carrott.

    Us mobile guys just need to keep on plug, plug, plugging away :)

  2. Agency groups are clearly trying to get up to speed with mobile and are looking to bring in talent, be that through hiring or acquisition.

    The danger is that this is diluted and stretched too far within a larger group.

    I am always very wary of Mobile giving the impression that it is special, or different, as this can alienate itself from other channels. But although the differences with digital are closing, Mobile will need to remain a speciality for the near-future at least.