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Marketers' New Area of Apportunity

Article date: Fri, 25 Feb 2011 13:12 GMT

UKFast Round Table Mobile CommerceThe growth of mobile commerce is forcing marketers and advertisers to think more creatively about how to interact with consumers and those who grasp the concept of the mobile web quickly have the potential to make big money. That was the consensus amongst five m-commerce experts who gathered at the head offices of hosting firm UKFast to discuss the state of the mobile web market and its future. Following on from the Mobile World Congress in February - where advertising on the mobile phone dominated the agenda - the round table event in Manchester discussed how marketers and advertisers need to adjust to the growing trend. Paul Harris, marketing director of UKFast said: "There is a huge potential pitfall waiting for those who choose to do what they have always done because this isn't appropriate for mobile. It needs a new level of thought and a much cleverer approach. Applying your tested formula to a new medium is the wrong way to go about it entirely. The use of a banner advert on a free app for example is intrusive - it completely misses the point and doesn't work on mobile in my opinion." Matthew Ryan, chief technical director of Web Comms - an iPhone applications development and training company, added: "The bigger question is how you promote apps themselves. Traditionally through the web there are established techniques like pay-per-click and SEO. But what is there for mobile apps? It's a new area full of opportunity." Deri Jones, CEO of SciVisum, emphasised how tough a challenge the advertising industry faces. "At the extreme, it's the end of advertising. The small screens mean there's nowhere to put advertisements. Throughout the history of the web, we've put more and more ads in different places. On mobile devices there's no place for that. It's definitely a challenge." Harris cited Starbucks' Card Mobile app - that allows its customers to pay with the use of a barcode flashed at their screens and incorporates special offers and codes - as an intelligent development of mobile commerce. Panellists agreed that the increased popularity of smartphones has given consumers more control over the information they receive. They advised businesses to consider that when developing their mobile presence. Andy Whitwood, founder of Mobiomic, said: "At the minute it's iPhone apps that businesses are asking for as opposed to web apps. That's the trend and when they think about how to get info onto someone's phone they think of the iPhone apps. They're not considering that once they've developed the iPhone app, they need an android app, then Palm and something for the Blackberry and all of those need to be supported and updated. The route they should have gone down is a web app or a mobile-friendly website that can be the same across all handsets." A firm should focus on creating a tailored design and something that is optimised for mobile use, the panel said. A half-hearted attempt to "tick the box of mobile" won't cut it with users of mobile web. Whitwood warned: "The last thing you should do is take your website and squeeze it down onto a mobile phone because people don't interact in the same way on the mobile. Users of mobile sites are more time pressured, they're on the move, they want to find what they want and get off again. Navigation and content needs to be stripped down for a mobile user." Paul Reilly from MyDestinationInfo predicted an opportunity for location-based businesses as the m-commerce market grows. He said: "What will emerge is a location-aware model that will enable advertisers in location-based businesses to bring customers from the street into their businesses. That's a fundamental shift that we've never had before. That's possible because of GPS, location-aware devices. That's pretty ground breaking." Top Tips for Developing a Mobile Presence: Focus on making your app interesting - it should add value and shouldn't be a bit of your normal website broken off and put on the mobile. Remember there's scope to damage a brand and lose sales if you don't invest in the development of your mobile presence. Invest in infrastructure and technology - it will be a significant revenue channel in the long term so it's worthwhile. Consider the user at all times - they're time poor, on the move and operating on a small screen.
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