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Brands On Mobile: In the Form Of A Question, Please

Posted by TeamITI on January 20, 2010

[tweetmeme source=”itimarketing”]

Programmer Steve Smith is a lapsed academic who saw the light. For the MediaPost Blog, he wrote this article about Mobile Web Development and .mobi world:

“Why can’t I pop most brand names into my mobile browser and get a decent interactive experience yet? To hell with all of the hype about brands and agencies finally getting serious about mobile. Yadda, yadda. Most of them seem to be leap-frogging the basics.

Mobile-Friendly Destinations

Before you brand managers start pestering your agencies to “get me an iPhone app,” how about making sure that you think through a mobile-friendly destination for Web browsers? And I don’t mean that you should just have a mobile site out there somewhere (which you should), but that you make sure that the redirects are in place so that most mobile browsers will end up there.

Brand Examples

The New York Times has one of the most ambitious mobile Web sites of any newspaper I have seen, but good luck finding it casually from the iPhone’s Safari browser or the Palm and Android browsers. On all three I get the full Web experience and I am back to the days when Apple really thought we wanted to tap-tap-tap in and out of sections of the expansive NYTimes.com page. There is a superb mobile.NYTimes.com page, but unless you make a specific request of Yahoo “mobile nytimes” you will have to remember the special URL.

Google doesn’t even list the mobile destination when you do that search. It just finds content on the NYTimes site promoting mobile. Yeesh. I am up to my eyeballs in mobile media and culture and even I have to try the “m.”, “mobile.” Prefixes or “.mobi” and “/mobile” prefixes are on too many brands before I actually find their mobile Web site. What hope is there for ordinary mobile users?

When we awarded Publicis Groupe’s Phonevalley the OMMA Mobile Agency of the Year Award recently, I got to talk with CEO Alexandre Mars. He said he’s spending a lot of time this coming year convincing brands to get their “m-dot” strategy in order. He said that 2010 will be the year of the m-dot and this means that more of the mobile marketing strategy has to move beyond marketing and media buying and into the creative wing. “All big brands need a mobile site,” he told me. “It is more and more around concepts, ideas, creative.”

Isn’t anyone over there considering why a consumer would type in Sony.com on a mobile browser? Perhaps they are standing in front of a Bravia at BestBuy and wondering about its real specs? Wouldn’t you want to put a search box in there that leads to product details? The ironic subtext of the Sony mobile site is that you can’t possibly do anything of real use on mobile. Get your ass over to the real Web, buddy.

The brands that have credible mobile purpose rather than presence are the ones that follow the basic “Jeopardy” principle. They pose their mobile answer in the form of a question. Why would someone be coming to us via a mobile browser?

Best Practices

BK has the cleverest destination of all. The King’s Phone has the locator and nutritional info you expect but it also has something most brands lack on mobile: fun. The King’s phone directory includes mock chat messages and a directory that includes his stunt double and a scepter repairman. In addition to answering the practical questions of where and what to eat, it also anticipates the next query. I am sitting here alone chomping a burger and fries. What is there to do? How about goofing with the King?

Apart from these and some other exceptions, most brands are only trying to get onto mobile without asking what they are doing there. I have a pile of bookmarks to uninspired branded mobile destinations that seem almost as amazed as Sony that I bothered to go there on a mobile phone.

I agree with Alexandre Mars that this should be the year of the m-dot. But in the process, brands need to figure out what questions bring a user to their site, what voice and spirit they want to use when talking to them.”

Read the original article!

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