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Some interesting thoughts from the Metro mobile conference…
M2M Thoughts in Flight | May 22, 2012
On Wednesday I went to an event organised by the Marketing team at Metro. There were some interesting speakers and panalists at the event including Meabh Quoirin (Future Foundation), Peter Duffy (Easyjet), Will Sauson (Contagious), Ben Wood (CCS Insight), Glyn Britton (Albion), Jonny Kaldor (Kaldor ltd), Andrea Nicolaou (O2), the lovely Sophie Robinson of Metro and more. As is oftent the case, much of what was said felt familiar, but here's some of the themes and nuggets that stuck out to me:
Smart Boredom - Meabh shared the thought that boredom moments are increasingly valuable on a few levels; firstly we are valuing our downtime more and more and hence filling it with the most fun, entertaining and interesting ways possible; secondly, she talked about how creativity works. For a while now we have been having debates internally at M2M about the best way to get to ideas. The typical approach is to get a room full of people brainstorming random ideas, when in actual fact, as the very smart Simon Carr pointed out to me, the best ideas usually come from individuals spending quality time focused on a problem. Quoting from Jonath Lehrer's book called Imagine: How creativity works, she echoed this thought, stating that creativity is often linked to boredom - when people are alone and slowing down. If you have ever found yourself searching for a notepad in the middle of the night because your brain has finally 'cracked it', you'll know what I mean. Similarly I had a conversation the other day about traffic jams - that's what happens when you are new dad and thus tired!. Anyway, it is my theory that a lot of people don't actually mind traffic jams when they are alone in a car, as it gives them a rare chance to think and contemplate life. They value the alone time, and often come up with things they would not otherwise have done. If you are with someone it is a different matter. If it's someone you are hundred percent comfortable with then all's fine, if not, it can lead to an increasingly uncomfortable experience!
Peformance Leisure - this was a trend Meabh shared that related to our desire to capture and share posts and content. In effect people today are constantly using social platforms as a form of self validation. For example, there is even a facebook app called status shuffle that lets you choose from popular status updates posted by random others. Why? because if you too use the popular one you might just look better to your friends!
Tablets are for home use, not work - 8% of people use their tablets for work vs. 80% at home. 15% use it as their primary home tech device.
Easyjet's rapid mobile expansion - Peter gave an interesting insight in to the incredible rise of mobile in their portfolio, including the fact that 1.5% of sales are now through mobile; the fact that their app is downloaded 80k times a week; and 10% of site hits come through mobile. He stated that they believe the role for mobile in their comms mix is to act as the 'customers friend', providing information to people when the website or a check in desk rep is not available. In that sense he brought up a theme others built on, in that the tablet was a 'lean back' more discursive channel. He also raised an interesting question about search. Easyjet spent £54m on search last year while Ryanair spent zero, and as a business they are starting to wonder what incremental revenue it is actually driving. As a result easyjet are actually reducing their digital spend at present.
Get the basics right - Ben raised the point that all too often clients want the new and shiny toy; be it augmented reality, geo targeting, blipper etc. It is human nature to want them, but he argued that the important first task was simoply to get the basics right, such as having a website that is mobile enabled. Countless examples were cited, including a stat that 75% of QR codes direct people to sites that are not mobile ready. Clearly it is an important point, one further highlighted by the fact that 80% of apps created by brands have less than 1000 downloads. The lesson...get your site ready first. After that, before you even consider getting braver, ask 'what will genuinely be useful, interesting or entertaining for people'.
Business partners vs. media partners - whilst talking about what he wants from agencies, Peter stated that he wants companies that understand easyjet. Partners that recognise not everything is appropriate for their business model and then take them on a journey they could not otherwise go on with the staff they have. It was a great thought that backs our belief that what clients truly need and want are business partners, not just media partners.
The need for unified mobile standards - a big question was raised by the panels and audience around measurement and trading issues with mobile. At present there are no unified standards of measurement. Few publishers can or do tell you how many people actually see your inventory and until that happens there will be a lot of contention between media owners, agencies and clients. To Metro's credit they ran a whole exercise dedicated to gathering questions agencies and clients want answered. We look forward to hearing what they come bacjk with.
'Creative agencies are backwards' - Glyn stated his belief that most creative agencies are stuck in the past when it comes to tablet and mobile. With the advent of digital he believed that the creative industry are facing the same disruption that the music industry faced in recent times.
Act like a software developer - Building off the last point, Glyn went on to talk about his belief that brands need to act like software developers, lighting 100s of small fires and pouring fuel on the ones that start to spread. He was echoing many similar thoughts, such as the 'Bonfires and Fireworks' model we often discuss that was nicely coined by John Wilshire. In essence the belief which I share, is that marketing is shifting from big, short, sharp advertising campaigns that burn bright for a short space of time before they die out (fireworks), to the creation of many more social bonfires that you try to spread. It is an idea that mirrors both Facebook's approach to innovation and Zynga's 'ghetto testing' model - if you have an idea put it out in to the market - If people like it, build on it.
All interesting stuff, well organised and run by Sophie and the team and I look forward to seeing the write up they promised to share.
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