Friday, 5 February 2010

Mobile finally gets a little more accountable (in the UK)

Yesterday I attended the GSMA/Comscore launch event of the Mobile Media Metrics at the BFI IMAX theatre.

As I walked in I overheard another delegate saying that this was the most exciting thing in research this year. Oh dear, I thought.

However, once the free popcorn had been picked up by some, we were allowed into the iMax theatre, and provided with ridiculous oversize 3d glasses. Which confused a whole lot of people given that they started off with a film that was distinctly not 3d.Glasses needed? Ah,no.

So, what was all the fuss about? Well at long last there's going to be a vaguely robust measuring system for mobile, derived from a collaboration between Comscore and the 5 main UK networks and based on census data that will integrate with TGI. But as yet it only works for mobile display advertising, no mobile search, no apps, and it excludes wifi based access via iPhone, iTouch, iPad as it comes on stream, which all add up to some pretty serious flaws in giving a real picture. So I was left feeling a bit yeah whatever.

Don't get me wrong, it's a very definite step forward on something that is currently lamentable and that's very good progress, but we're barely out the starting blocks in making mobile a more accountable platform. Rome wasn't built in a day I know, but it's been the "year of mobile" every year now for years and the iPhone came out in 2007, making a big change in people's usage and experiences of the mobile web. It's now 2010. Come on people!

Yes, starting off with the media side makes sense, as it's the piece that clients find the easiest to transition into the platform in as they more or less understand it. But if people are still only seeing digital display consumed via a handheld device as the be all and end all of mobile then as far as I am concerned they've left the restaurant after the amuse-bouche, let alone the starter.  Let's hope the industry scontinues to apply pressure to get the search and app related analytics in place ASAP, as this is no time for resting on laurels.

For anyone desperately keen to find out what little they missed you can read a summary here or watch it via this link, but I'd recommend skipping forward to about 4minutes 40 at least.

 However, what made yesterday afternoon a really interesting experience for me was it's the first time I've been to a conference or event full of fellow lovers of techy toys where I've experienced real time participation on a whole new level.  I've followed lots of tech conferences and launches over the last year via following the Tweet stream / event hashtag, I've attended webinars and participated in the #tag streams, but yesterday really changed my perspective on these events.

Given it was a mobile event it was hardly a surprise that there was a fairly dynamic level mobile activity, most people had a least one smartphone device with them, and what amused me no end was even during the opening video looking around me there were more people playing with their devices than were watching the film.  ADHD, or just an audience that knew that mobile metrics are hugely necessary?

The #tag for the event was #gsmammm, prominently displayed at the top of the HUGE screen.  Check it out here.   As the presentations and then the panel discussion ensued the tweets flowed, and following the hashtag live gave me a really interesting perspective on what the other people, in the same room, experiencing the same thing at the same time were thinking. Tweets, re-tweets, twitpics of slides being posted, people immediately adding followers and following new people. Here's just a small sample.

Comment, thought, discussion happening in real time amongst the people in the room, while they were half paying attention to the presentations, comments posted as soundbites at amazing speed, as much for the audience in the room as for those outside following the #tag as I have done so often before. Really participatory, real time and great fun. The Twitter activity really added to my experience of the whole event.

Above all I think it made me realise not just the power of real time, but how technology can bring extra dimensions to events. It means embracing the critical with the complimentary as by nature at any such even you'll have very different perspectives and knowledge levels (something that rang very true yesterday), but it was re-assuring to know that I wasn't alone in some of the aspects I was underwhelmed by. The stakes for events and presentations just got raised a bar or two, and I now have a far better understanding of how daunting presenting at these events these days can be, and how important choosing your material carefully is.

Great event! The mystery 3d glasses eventually came in handy as at the end they showed us a trailer for Avatar and the forthcoming Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland. Just as well as I'd been highly confused as to why I'd had those on my head all the way through the session.

GSMA sent me a feedback text link today on a URL called WAPMEIT. I appreciate they need to be embracive of multiple platforms but you'd hope that most of the audience yesterday had actually graduated beyond WAP already.

Really interesting experience. I shall look forward to seeing mobile media metrics rolled out so I can have a proper play with it.  Especially following an interesting meeting I had with mobile site analytics firm Bango, earlier this week, showing me the depth of detail their analytics platform can offer to add insight to site-side behaviour via mobile.

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