Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Turning Yellow Pages into Gold: Making Money from Mobile Search.


That we are about to witness a sea of change in the traditionally tranquil waters of business directories was made patently clear at a recent meeting of key Yellow Page businesses at the EADP Conference in Mallorca. In mature European markets like the UK, printed directory revenues are declining by approximately 12% year on year.

Meantime, digital revenues (PC web and mobile) have been growing year after year, and on a global basis, account for more than 20% of total business directory revenues. But the web growth story is one that dates from the ‘noughties’, the decade spanning 2000-2009. Today in the ‘teenies’, the decade started this year; mobile is the key engine of growth.

In fact, already 30-40% of Europeans access web services more regularly from a mobile device than from a PC. This means that the ability for business directories to deliver a personalised experience on mobile is more important than ever before.


The big question is: how do you make money by letting business directory users access the service on mobile?
Firstly, a quick explanatory note on the mobile channel, as this can mean two things: the Mobile Web and Mobile Apps.

This can seem obvious, but the distinction is important. With a mobile website, a business directory can deliver an improved experience for those users browsing through the directory’s website on a mobile device. It is a good starting point. But to make the most out of the mobile device’s capabilities (especially those of smartphone devices) mobile apps are the key.

Here, the app can make full use of the positioning, touch screen and other Smartphone gizmos (like the accelerometer that detects handset motion). By doing so, a much more unique, interactive and engaging experience can be delivered to mobile users.

Business directories with a good set of mobile apps and a mobile website can not only deliver extra value to existing directory users. They can also open up the service accessible to new groups of users (for example, teenagers with iPhones, who may have never opened a printed Yellow Page book in their lives). Business directories have the possibility of charging their customers (advertisers who list in their directories, not the end user) for this new mobile channel.

Business listings on mobile are also the perfect route towards order fulfilment –as the mobile is also the most common way of getting in touch with the business that is listed. Take the example, if you will, of a stranded person in an unfamiliar part of town that needs a taxi to get home. A search for ‘taxis’ within the Yellow Page app is the quickest way to get the number of a taxi company. And by having a ‘click-to-call’ button next to the company name, the user can dial straight through and order a taxi. This can be through a premium number that can generate shared revenues for both the Yellow Page Company and the advertiser.


 Another exciting development is the up-and-coming RFQ, or Request-for-Quote model on mobile. Here, the realisation is that business directories can add most value by linking specific advertisers with specific user requests.

For example, a plumber participating in the scheme would receive real-time requests for his services obtained by users searching within the plumbing category of the business directory. Monetising the service is carried out by charging a commission for each fulfilled order. Quotify, based in San Francisco, have already rolled out this service using web platforms, but are seeing increasing demand for delivering the solution on mobile.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mobile OS Platforms-Which horse should you bet on?

Here is an extract from Golden Gekko's view of the mobile platform landscape today with an insight into likely losers and gainers going forwards:

The mobile ecosystem keeps on evolving faster than ever and it's often difficult to see the macro trends with all the day to day announcements and comments about winners and losers. One of the most exciting things is that nothing is certain.

Here's a short summary of the trends that we are seeing and longer term impact:

Handset Operating Systems and Development Platforms
  • iPhone - Continues to evolve with OS4 being a great leap forward and with the best UI and SDK for developers but overall market share is stablising at about 13.5% of smartphones globally and with only one new device release per year growth is likely to be tempered going forward
  • Android - Outsold iPhone in Q2 and increased their market share by 886% since last year with more handset manufacturers continuing to launch devices and competing against each other with vastly improved hardware including QWERTY keyboards, better cameras as well as very competitive prices and is expected by most to be the nr 1 smartphone OS in 2011
  • RIM continues to hold on to a big share of the smartphone market with 18% based on a wide range of communication and utility focused devices for business users as well as the youth market with an amazing usage adaption among teenagers in the UK thanks to Blackberry Messenger but market share is expected to decline unless Blackberry 6 delivers improved app support and user interface 
  • Nokia has gone from the undisputed leader to an underdog despite still being the global leader in overall market share (36% in Q2) and smartphones (43% in Q2) due to lack of great new devices and unclear strategy of Symbian and MeeGo but we would definitely not rule them out as they still have deep pockets and a very loyal base in emerging markets and a partnership with Intel with even deeper pockets and long term bets riding on the success of MeeGo
  • Palm WebOS went from being a dead horse to a joker when HP acquired Palm earlier this year thanks to having developed the 2nd best OS to iPhone in terms of user experience and based on open standards and as the largest PC manufacturer worldwide HP won't give up in the first place
  • Microsoft Mobile has constantly failed to deliver a really appealing user experience since they first launched the SPV in 2002 and although they undoubtedly provide the best PC - Mobile integration it hasn't been enough but with Windows Mobile 7, the biggest development community in the world and a track record of not giving up they might still have a chance to find a market and slowly grow over the next couple of years from 5% of the smartphone market in Q2
  • Samsung Bada Wave is another unexpected player in the smartphone OS space as they also deliver devices with Android and Windows Mobile but Bada has outperformed most people’s expectations in terms of user experience although it essentially is a Android copycat based on Linux and Java and won’t have much chance in the high-end smartphone segment
  • Webruntime Widgets are not really a OS or a platform but with the popularity of webkit based mobile browsers and the push for standardisation among carriers the widget standard (also referred to as JIL by Vodafone, webruntime by Nokia and WebOS by Palm) it's becoming an important platform and might actually have a good chance of establishing a standard for apps that don't require the latest and greatest from each of the individual platforms.
  • Java ME continues to be the leading platform in terms of installed base and handset sales supported by Symbian, Samsung Bada, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and most proprietary OS from Nokia (e.g. S40), Sony-Ericsson, LG and Samsung with well over 2 billion devices worldwide and over 0.4 billion downloads per month with majority of Java downloads now in emerging markets such as India, Indonesia, Brazil and China

In conclusion
The media and financial community seems to believe that there can only be two or maybe three winners in the smartphone space like in the PC world with Microsoft Windows, Mac OSX and various Linux versions. What if it’s possible with more? Maybe the market is so big, the technology development so fast and customer preferences so different that there is room for more than three? Google Android definitely looks like the favorite of the day but we don’t think the battle is close to being over. Like we said in a previous update. “In mobile fragmentation is forever. Deal with it.”

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Element Youth Mobile Marketing Campaign including Crowdharnessing

Element - Claim it! from Morten Halvorsen on Vimeo.

A friend and former colleague in the US shared this mobile marketing campaign with me several months ago and it provided such a perfect (and rare) example of how to bridge the gap between the real and virtual world, that I have been using it continuously since then.

The campaign for sporting goods/Sporting brand Elements manages to pull off creating a well-targeted app (just for urban skaters), with a strong viral element (competition for the best skating stunt allowing skaters to ‘claim their spot’), an integrated digital experience (a customised website linking to the mobile site) and rich mobile features (location plus video) as well as social media/crowd harnessing (the best skater videos were uploaded to the official Elements website).

The promotional side involved giveaways of branded gear at ‘on-the-spot’ competitions, the cherry on the cake for what was undoubtedly one of the most complete, well thought out mobile campaigns I’ve witnessed in the last couple of years.

You can see the explanatory video above which illustrates clearly how all the various elements of the campaign fit together. Special thanks to Ed o’Meara and Josh Dhaliwal.