MMF Berlin – Privacy
I’m writing a series of posts about my speech on the “future” of mobile advertising, which I gave at the Mobile Marketing Forum in Berlin last week – here’s the first one, in case you missed it. My definition of the future tends to be the immediate two or three years as longer than that tends to start sounding like scifi. That might be interesting, but it’s not really the bread and butter we need to be chewing at a mobile marketing conference.
My second subject are was the whole issue of Privacy, which often tends to be the elephant in the conference room at mobile advertising events. However, it is an area that we need to start talking about and coming up with a positive and preemptive plan of action, before some brownie-point seeking politician seeks to regulate what is actually a very responsible industry – and one which has demonstrated an ability to self-regulate. The danger is that any form of digital advertising can easily stir up strong feelings by being accused of “big brother” behaviour, even though real culprits, such as CCTV, is allowed to flourish unchecked.
Advertising generally has a strong and positive story to tell – but if you’re here, you probably don’t need to be told that. However, in the context of mobile, we play two very important roles. Firstly, we provide consumers with free stuff, which simply wouldn’t be available without advertising funding. So when consumers search the web, use social networks or download free iPhone apps, they need to be reminded that these would disappear faster than Morgan Pozgar can sms Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (about 7 seconds) without advertising. Secondly, advertising plays a very important role in helping consumers discover cool new content, products and services which, even if they existed without our funding, they wouldn’t be able to find otherwise.
Being able to give consumers relevant ads that they really want to see is also in their interests and we’re able to do this best when they share with us what those interests might be. This can be a passive and non-intrusive process, such as allowing us to (up to a point) track their behaviour, such as the types of ads they respond to (and therefore like), or it can be an active engagement where they share certain information about their preferences. An example of this is Out There Media’s Tomato Plus opt-in service that was recently tested in Serbia. There, consumers get free calls and sms in return for submitting their profile and receiving ads. Judging from the high response rates (as high as 75%), we’ll be seeing this model in other markets soon.
As an industry, we need to start addressing these issues, as we have a great story to tell.