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California Dreamin’

I recently joined an interesting and exclusive think tank event in California, hosted by the MMA, together with a number of colleagues and peers. No, not the popular Mixed Martial Arts (I can’t even fathom what that think tank would consist of!), but the Mobile Marketing Association CEO and CMO Summit. This annual event is dedicated to the mobile industry’s top influencers, leaders, and decision makers to showcase the importance and role of the C-suite in reaching mobile maturity in this fast moving digital marketing environment.

What immediately struck me was the mix of organizations and thought leaders. The MMA brings together over 80 member companies from nearly 50 countries around the world and they hail from every faction of the mobile media ecosystem. Conversation throughout was rich with discussion on challenges faced in the industry, such as adblocking, transparency of the ad value chain (or lack thereof) and measurement of true ROI for overall ad spend. The discussions were excellent validations of SAP’s similar views and a good reminder of why SAP XM was created in the first place: to eliminate the pain points for advertisers and publishers alike.

Deliver Messages to Drive Action

The highlight of the first evening was a discussion with the producer and star of a recent Sundance Film Festival movie winner – Difret(Check out the trailer here - He gave an inspiring speech on the origin of the film and importance of storytelling to get our points across and drive action.

As the incessant deluge of digital information reaches a fever pitch and vies for our constant attention, it is important to be reminded how important our marketing messages are to inspire action. Brands need to continue to innovate and drive creativity in their approaches to inspire consumers to take action. One guest from a large paper products company commented on how hard this is for someone selling toilet paper. Can you imagine?

Communication Transformation and the Mobile Zombie Generation

The next two days of agenda were chock full of interesting presentations and discussions from numerous brands like Nestle, Domino’s, Frito Lay, and Unilever as well as technology providers like IBM, SAP, Krux, Rubicon Project, DataXu and Smaato with the theme: mobile interaction is more than a communications channel, more than just a device. It is the remote control of today’s modern lives and the gateway by which many consumers experience brands. Look around and you will observe that our communities are constantly plugged into mobile interactions. How many of us sleep with our phone on the night stand as our constant companion? (Answer: over 40% of Americans sleep with their cell phone according to recent polls!).

As this dramatic shift occurs, it becomes more important than ever to engage consumers on their mobile devices in ways that were never possible via television, which is essentially a one way communication vehicle pushing information to the television watcher. Mobile devices allow brands to understand and engage with their consumers – both pushing and pulling information directly from consumers, with profile details, mobile traffic patterns and all kinds of interactions.

This is likely the biggest communication transformation of our time and arguably the biggest opportunity for marketers to gain a competitive edge if they get it right. However, there is no tried and true approach that can be relied on to be successful. It ultimately requires brands take action and also integrate technology platforms that are instrumental in creating immediate, frictionless and personalized content. It also requires properly allocating and optimizing media spend along the customers’ journey while being able to measure and achieve a solid ROI on this spend by leveraging enterprise data to tie advertising interactions to a consumer behavior.

A Crowded Ecosystem

The dreams of future consumer entanglement and engagement remind us of what is possible with mobile digital transformation. What I witnessed, however, was a crowded ecosystem of technology solutions that are vying to achieve the attention of marketing. I had many conversations and a roundtable discussion with major brands about SAP XM’s vision that were met with high levels of interest but the question on how SAP XM will play in this crowded space.

SAP has seen this digital transformation play out in other areas of the enterprise - financials management, supply chain management, procurement management etc. Why not end to end marketing and advertising management leveraging the connected enterprise to create a holistic and embraceable platform?

Time will tell if the industry can truly achieve on this promise for brands and consumers alike to deliver on the sophisticated mobile vision. In the interim, California Dreamin’ is our inspiration for sunnier, warmer days ahead as prophetically captured by the Mama’s and Papa’s here- I’ll be humming this regularly until I see you in Sonoma next year.

About the author

Global Vice President, Sales & Business Development

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