We've been discussing mobile as the 7th Mass Media channel for a couple of years now, ever since I started to talk about it in 2005. Today there are many who love the concept and plenty has been written to add to the whole, from Alan Moore's company SMLXL releasing its White Paper on 7th Mass Media to Dot Mobi using the concept to explain the unique strengths of mobile, to ad-funded UK mobile operator Blyk building its whole business concept around the 7th Mass Media. Since my fifth book Digital Korea, had a chapter in it, today many other authors reference the concept as well, such as the book I'm just reading, Mobile Advertising, by Chetan Sharma, Joe Herzog and Victor Melfi (404 pages hardcover, John Wiley, 2008) - a great book by the way, I'll blog about it when I've done reading it.
So yes, many now are spreading the "gospel" of mobile being the newest mass media, in fact 7th in the chronological sequence (with Print the first, Recordings the second, Cinema the third, Radio the fourth, TV the fifth and the Internet the sixth in this sequence; Mobile is now added as the seventh of the mass media). Here at Communities Dominate Blog, Alan and I have often referenced to the 7th Mass Media channel and added tidbits here and there to the overall picture. We've both released deeper documents about it too. But so much has been happening in this space, that I think it is time to do another major review of this new way to think of mobile. And I have a nice gift for all of our readers, since last time, we have now discovered the 7th unique benefit for mobile as a media. You can scrap the old materials, this is hot stuff, the first time ever in written form (I've talked about this in some of my workshops recently) - I will reveal the 7th unique benefit of mobile as a mass media - each of these obviously are benefits of mobile that none of the legacy media - including the internet - can replicate.
Lets first talk numbers
The big picture. Print is 500 years old and still going quite strong. Recordings, Cinema and Radio are all about 100 years of age as a mass media, give or take ten years for each. TV is about 50 years old as a mass market medium. The internet is 15 years old. Mobile? Will reach the ripe old age of 10 years of age this autumn. The internet is already an adolescent "rebellious" teenager. Mobile is just maturing from a child to a young teenager.
Ok, users? There are 1.5 billion TV sets in the world. 900 million personal computers, desktops and laptops. The internet had 1.3 billion users at the end of 2007 but the mobile subscriber count had reached 3.3 billion (source ITU, 2008). Obviously not all mobile phone users consume media content today - but a massive 798 million of them were users of the "mobile internet" which includes WAP users. This year, 2008, will be the cross-over point when more users will access internet content (including WAP) via a mobile phone, than via any kind of PC/laptop. This is no science fiction, it has already happened in numerous countries from the most advanced, like Japan and South Korea, to the mainstream like the UK to developing countries like India and South Africa. In fact in the developing world, PC penetration is so low, and fixed internet access - broadband and dial-up - so rare, that mobile access to internet services outnumbers PC based access in ranges from 6 to 1, to up to 10 to 1. In Africa, if you want to talk to your customers digitally, the only viable method is a mobile phone.
But of course, that does not even touch upon the biggest data application on the planet - SMS text messaging. At the end of last year, 2.4 billion people - 74% of all mobile phone users - were active users of SMS text messaging. Even Americans discovered SMS last year, so now the whole world is onboard. SMS text messaging alone is worth over 100 billion dollars and the worldwide average number of SMS sent per active user is 4 SMS per day (Informa 2007). Leading countries are the Philippines (15 SMS sent per person per day), Singapore (12 SMS per day) and South Korea (10 SMS per day). In Europe, the UK average is 6 SMS sent per day. So if you ever thought that "engaging" with your media audience through the internet is powerful - remember there are only 800 million active unique users of email (holding 1.2 billion email accounts) and only about 500 million active users of all kinds of IM Instant Messaging services, but 2.4 billion active users of SMS text messaging. And practically everyone of the 3.3 billion subscribers around the world, can be reached via SMS.
So no wonder, that ever since MTV invented the interactive TV model via SMS in 2001, SMS has become a vital interactivity form, and also a major revenue source, for all kinds of media from newspapers and magazines to radio to 24 hour TV news shows and of course reality TV like American Idol and Big Brother. In Finland interactive SMS text messaging already delivers more revenues to the TV broadcast industry than advertising or subscription income. But it goes far beyond that - internet companies, which have been struggling to charge for content - have been able to monetize their internet services via mobile as the 7th mass media channel. Childrens virtual playground Habbo Hotel from Finland pioneered this concept and today for example in China bestselling internet free MP3 songs, get monetized through mobile, such as the song Mice Love Rice which had 100 million free downloads of the MP3 file in China, yet after that, generated 23 million dollars through legitimate mobile music sales (in this case, ringback tones). For interactivity via mobile for legacy media audiences, one need only look at the UK - where already 20% of the total viewing audience participates monthly in voting on reality TV shows via SMS, or in Japan, where already 30% of TV viewers interact with TV content in all manner of ways via the mobile - as they watch TV.
But I want my internet?
So yes, the internet is enormous and growing fast. It is gobbling up industries (airline ticketing, book sales, the encyclopedia business etc) and media formats and concepts (the financial pages of newspapers, tomorrow's news headlines, web radio, IPTV etc). But the internet is the dumb child, the immature kid, where mobile is the young adult, the smart kid. Consider. Every mass media ever invented first discovered revenues from adult entertainment. Every media whether books or magazines or movies (first cinemascopes were stripping ladies) to playing cards! to more modern media like video cassettes, DVDs and the internet of course. What was the first successful mass market paid telephone service industry - naughty telephone lines offering phone sex, etc.
Today, the internet is worth 45 Billion dollars in revenues. What are the three largest revenue types? Advertising, adult entertainment and gambling. This is a very immature media. But contrast it to the younger sibling, mobile. Of course we have adult entertainment, gambling and advertising on mobile - each worth about 2 Billion dollars give or take. But of the 72 B dollars value of mobile content, there are several far bigger content types already than these first concepts for any immature media. Music on mobile is worth over 9 Billion dollars, Gaming is worth 5 Billion (Source Netsize Guide 2008). There are half a dozen content types already for mobile that have grown to be bigger than adult entertainment and gambling. Mobile has grown past its dumb, immature older sibling, the internet, and mobile is today a far more mature mass media. A healthy mass media capable of generating major revenues from legitimate "wholistic" content services, not just the seedy side of any new mass media.
Finally I want to mention that the internet did have 3 unique benefits. It was the first mass media with interactivity built in. It provided the ability to search (ie to Google). And it enabled social networking. These are powerful benefits beyond the first 5 mass media. We cannot touch a radio programme and start to talk back to the DJ (we need a phone or SMS or email or something, the radio transmission is uni-directional). We cannot electronically search a pile of Time magazines to find that one great quote by Bill Gates. And we cannot set up our fan club of Tony Soprano somehow amidst the TV broadcast of the Sopranos (without say a Facebook club for Sopranos fans). The first five media were unable to build on these features. Today we print our email addresses on our business cards. We all use Google or some search engine daily - cannot imagine life without Google - and an increasing proportion of internet users participate in social networking sites from contributing to Wikipedia to downloading YouTube videos.
Now, consider mobile. For every email user - interactivity on the internet - there are 3 times as many SMS text messaging users. We have interactivity also on mobile, in fact the biggest interactive platform on the planet is SMS, not the internet. Search? You may be surprised, but practically every mobile network around the world has already deployed Google or Yahoo or some similar search onto your mobile phone. It does work, most users are not yet accustomed to using it (Google is my personal fave mobile service). And social networking? Its already bigger on mobile than on the internet. A bit more about it in a moment. But yes, for all those unique benefits of the intenet, that cannot be replicated on print, recordings, cinema, radio and TV - those not only can be replicated on mobile - they already are on mobile, and two of the three, are already BIGGER on mobile than on the internet. So much for unique benefits of the internet, the sixth mass media channel.
Content Types on mobile
So what kind of content can we expect on the 7th of the mass media. First, remember that each mass media has its own niche opportunities. Every movie ever made for the cinema, has managed to migrate to the far smaller home TV set - but the vast majority of TV content today (soap operas, 24 hour news, game shows, reality TV, MTV videos, talk shows etc) has not migrated back to cinema. So yes, we will see many existing mass media formats and concepts appear on mobile sometimes in identical forms, more often in slightly altered forms. This is not the big success. The big success is when we discover the true benefits of mobile and capitalize on those.
Music. Mobile music was worth 9.1 Billion dollars in 2007 (source Netsize Guide 2008). Contrast that with the 30 billion dollar global music industry, and we find that 31% of the total worldwide consumer spend on music, is already consumed on mobile. The biggest part is ringing tones, obviously, but there are other billion-dollar markets already in full-track MP3 files and ringback tones sold to mobile. Karaoke, music video, welcoming tones, background tones and music streaming services round up the numbers. In South Korea (the world's most advanced mobile music market) in 2006 already 45% of all music sold went straight to mobile phones. Contrast that with iTunes which had only 10% of the US music sales last year - going almost all through the fixed internet to PCs and iPods. No wonder execs from each of the big 4 music labels, Warner, Sony BMG, Universal and EMI - have said the future of music is mobile (not on the iPod). They said this, by the way, as far back as 2006. No wonder Apple had to rush out its iPhone.
Gaming. Mobile gaming is another giant service category, worth 5 Billion dollars in 2007 (Netsize Guide 2008). If we take it as a percent of the total global videogaming software revenues (ie excluding Xbox and PS3 hardware sales) of about 20 B dollars, mobile accounts already for 25% of all worldwide videogaming software revenues. And also here mobile gaming is far bigger by revenues than all internet gaming revenues. But again, it is not games like Grand Theft Auto 4, for the Playstation 3 and Xbox, that thrive on mobile. Most successful mobile games work better on the small screen, quizzes, puzzles, etc. Or testers for major games. And then the multiplayer games that have been designed ground-on-up to fit the mobile, such as Disney's Pirates or Nexgen's Elven Legends.
Social Networking on mobile. We all know the excitement with social networking services on the internet, the first new media content category that didn't exist on the five legacy media. MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Linked-In, Bebo, Facebook, Mixi, Second Life, Habbo Hotel, World of Warcraft, Wikipedia etc. The obvious problem with social networking on the internet - as with any content on the internet - is how to monetize it. Advertising often seems like the only way, and even then, Facebook had a big user revolt a few months ago when they tried to introduce advertising onto the service.
But mobile social networking is again younger. Mobile social networking was launched commercially in South Korea only in 2003 (when mobile Cyworld launched). Today mobile social networking is a giant industry, was worth 6 Billion dollars in 2007 (source Informa 2008) and had over 100 million paying users on mobile. Stop and think about that for a moment. From zero dollars at the start of 2003, to 6 Billion dollars four years later in 2007 - this is by far the fastest growing industry in the history of mankind. Social Networking on mobile phones. Its services like Itsmy and MyNuMo and Vodafone's Self Central etc. Plus many that I mention in this blog, from Cyworld to Flirtomatic.
As to mobile content, there is much more, from downloading screen savers to daily cartoons to sudoku puzzles to religious thoughts for the day, to the daily joke, to yes, the sexual position of the day. We can do far more personal services and do not have to meet mainstream mores and tastes. But mobile is a most counter-intuitive service platform. Even I was totally stunned to find out about the sudden commercial success of mobile books in Japan. Not manga cartoons (which also exist for mobile). Serious, text-based books, sold direct to mobile phones. In 2006 they totalled 82 million dollars. Most successful mobile books are then turned into paper printed books - in fact five of the ten best-selling books in Japan in 2007 were originally launced as mobile books.
If that is not bizarre enough, consider this. Most mobile books have also been authored on mobile. Ouch. Talk about repetitive thumb syndrome. But yes, Japanese Oyayubizoku, or the Thumb Tribe, do this. Its very close to blogging - and mobile blogging. So if you maintain your diary online already, and let your friends read it - that is a small step to turning your diary into a book. Not a serious work by a Shakespeare or Hemingway, but a youth book. Typical youth novels and short stories. Young innocent girl falls in love with rich guy who turns out to be an unfaithful bastard, betrays her, rapes her, and naturally she then commits suicide. That kind of "trash" novels. Incidentially that is the plot line of Deep Love, Japan's bestselling book of 2007 which started as a mobile book and has now been also been turned into a movie. Serious book critics deplore these youth mobile books as ruining proper literature, as they have totally predictable "childish" plot lines, are written in bad grammar and style, with spelling errors, and using SMS shorthand and of course emoticons ie the smiley-faces etc like this :-)
Tomi what are the 7 unique capabilities of mobile as a media?
Ok, that leads us rather nicely to the unique benefits of mobile, compared to all the six older mass media. Obviously one is that we can author our text on a phone (or take pictures and videos with the camera of the phone). That is the fifth benefit in this list. When I started preaching this story, I had only discovered four benefits. Still a month ago I talked of six. Now there are seven. Here they are
1 - The mobile phone is the first personal mass media
2 - The mobile is permanently carried media
3 - The mobile is the only always-on mass media
4 - Mobile is the only mass media with a built-in payment mechanism
5 - Mobile is only media available at the point of creative inspiration
6 - Mobile is only media with accurate audience measurement
7 - Mobile captures the social context of media consumption
Some have tried to combine a few, like benefits 2 and 3, but these are certainly quite distinct and offer unique advantages. Lets look at each of the seven capabilities in more detail
Unique benefit number 1 - The mobile phone is the first personal mass media.
How personal? Wired reported in 2006 that 63% of the population will not share the phone even with their spouce. It is that personal. Never before was any mass media assumed to be private. Books and magazines are shared. Movies watched together. Radio we can have the whole family in the car listening at the same time. Records are played to a roomfull of wedding guests by the DJ. TV is watched together by the family. The internet is semi-personal, but often the PC is shared by the family or business employes. Our secretary or IT tech support (or Human Resources staff) may read through our emails. At home our parents often "snoop" what the kids do on the family PC etc. The internet is not a personal media, even if it often seems like it. But mobile. That is mine, and only mine. Nobody reads my messages or looks through my pictures. Not unless I expressly permit that. Want to start a fight in a romantic relationship? Ask suddenly to read the stored messages of your partners' phone. Storm clouds rapidly arising..
What kind of media content can we get from this? Well, the grand-daddy of mobile media is of course the world's most advanced mobile service environment (as well as the world's most advanced social networking service), Cyworld in South Korea. I could use Cyworld features to describe almost any of these benefits. But lets use only one Cyworld example here to start us off. The welcoming song (???). So inside Cyworld you have your miniroom (like your island on Second Life or your room in Habbo Hotel). In your miniroom, you can entertain your guests, who all appear in the form of their avatars (called mini-me). Very much like Second Life or Habbo Hotel. Now, the welcoming song. You can set Cyworld to play a welcoming tune to your guest(s). So when someone enters your room - and Cyworld will of course alert you on your phone that someone is there to greet you - you can be a good host to play music to your friend. As Tomi is a James Bond fan, of course if I had a room in Cyworld (and spoke Korean, ha-ha) I'd have some 007 theme music to play to you, my guest. But it goes beyond that - we can of course customize that music, selected by our guests, who gets what. Only on mobile... And the money involved? Cyworld offers the welcoming song on a "jukebox" payment principle, every time a song is paid, your account is charged about 40 cents. They make 300,000 dollars daily on the personalization of Cyworld, and the welcoming song is one of those personalization features. (Cyworld is a case study in my latest book Digital Korea, and SK Communication CEO - parent company of Cyworld, Dr Yoo wrote the foreword)
Unique benefit number 2 - The mobile is permanently carried media.
This is so powerful. Only on mobile. Morgan Stanley reported in 2007 that 91% of mobile phone owners worldwide keep the phone within one meter (3 feet) day and night, 24 hours per day, including when we sleep at night. Yes. nine out of ten people will take the phone to the bathroom with them, sleep with the phone. It is our alarm clock. It is quite literally the last thing we look at before we go to sleep and the first thing we look at in the morning. If we leave home without our wallet, most will not go back for it. But if we leave without our phone, most will go back to retrieve the phone. Its that necessary to carry all the time.
What can we do with this, on a media dimension? Otetsudai networks in Japan tells us how to capitalize on it. They are the very short term temporary work online network, connecting people who would like to earn a bit extra through temporary work, and prospective employers who want to get very short term assistance. So a restaurant has a cook with a family crisis at home, has to leave. The restaurant's assistant cook handles the cooking, but now they need someone to assist with doing dishes. Three hours, right now. How to fix that? A newspaper ad? Way too slow. An internet ad? Probably too slow. But mobile? Otetsudai networks offers location-based info, you see immediately where the job is, and where the employee candidates are. The service offers price negotiation like eBay. Two hours to wash some windows because there was a fire in the building next door? Four hours of warehouse work because of a water leak, etc etc etc. Short term work - only because the phone is carried 24 hours a day, this kind of "less than one day" kind of short term temp work, can be efficiently connected - via the phone. Otetsudai networks? Has over 100,000 workers signed up in its first year in Tokyo and thousands of employers.
Unique benefit number 3 - The mobile is the only always-on mass media.
Yes, we can of course leave CNN on at night if we fall asleep, but 24 hour cable TV news was not intended to be consumed 24 hours in a row. Same for radio, yes it is theoretically an always-on service, but it was not assumed anyone tunes in 24 hours a day. But remember the above, we sleep with the phone. And we do not turn the phone off even when we sleep (we may turn the ringing sound off if we don't want to be interrupted at night). The Belgian study by Catholic University of Leuwen revealed that half of Belgian youth wake up at night to incoming SMS text messages, and 20% regularly do so. The only media that can reach us in our sleep, because the phone is always on. Even the very last sanctuary, the airplane cabin, is no longer safe, as dozens of airlines are now adding equipment to allow phones to connect while in flight.
Where is the media business in this? Lots of it, lots. Anywhere where you might find value in breaking news. Finance, sports, gossip, etc. A great example is NTT DoCoMo's iChannel in Japan, which uses the idle screen of the phone. In effect, this is the intelligent next generation variant of the CNN News Ticker (scrolling news headlines on the bottom of the 24 hour cable TV news on screen). But iChannel is far superior to CNN's news ticker, because we can personalize it. I am intersted in sports, yes, but not tennis, not golf, not football, not basketball. I come from Finland, so our national passions are ice hockey and Formula One car racing. That is the sports news I want. And yes, international news, finance news, technology and telecoms news. But I don't want to hear about celebrity gossip about Brittney Spears or about the currency exchange rates or how the stock markets did, etc. So my service is as fast as the fastest 24 hour news service, but tailored so well, that it suits my exact tastes. And where are the TV sets when we need them? But that mobile phone is always in our pocket or on the desk in front of us, or next to us on the sofa when we are watching the game on TV. Only on mobile can we provide a far superior news ticker service than is the best possible one on 24 hour TV news. Is there money in this? You bet.. In just 18 months from launch, NTT DoCoMo had 16% of its subscribers signed up to the paid service, that is 8 million people paying 2 dollars per month to get personalized breaking news on their phones, 24 hours a day. When you do the math, that is nearly 200 million dollars of annual revenues. Just from the idle screen of the mobile phone. (Isn't this industry like a license to print money? This is too easy, once you start to use the true benefits of the 7th Mass Media...)
Unique benefit number 4 - Mobile is the only mass media with a built-in payment mechanism.
This is perhaps the biggest key why mobile content is already far greater in value than fixed internet content, and why content owners fall in love with mobile. The money. For the first time ever, we can enable a "click-to-buy" button on a mass media, and get payments. Not just advertise to the customer but direct call to action. Actual purchase enablement. This is a power that is barely grasped outside of mobile telecoms today. And before you say "but Paypal" - yes, Paypal. On the internet there is NO inherent ability to collect payment. NONE. Only by registering to Paypal, or providing a credit card, can you make purchases. That is lame. Only 10% of all internet users have a Paypal account. This is a cumbersome work-around. Its as far, as any magazine ad which asks you to call a number with your credit card to buy whatever they are selling. But on mobile, it literally is click-to-buy. In fact, mobile is so powerful with this, that mobile payments are regularly used to collect money for other media. American Idol, Big Brother and other reality TV shows earn already billions per year from premium SMS votes. Habbo Hotel collects most of its money - the teenager users do not have credit cards - from premium SMS. Radio stations, even print media collect revenues using mobile. For a credit card you need to be of age in most markets, but any age customer can get a mobile account - remember Habbo Hotel. Even pre-paid (top-up) accounts can be used for mobile payments, no problem. But that really is only the beginning. What if you had custom content for the 7th Mass Media. Let me tell you about Flirtomatic.
UK based converged online-mobile dating/flirting service, Flirtomatic, has innovated by which they make most of their money from the mobile users. Flirtomatic will for example let you send a virtual red rose - costing 23 UK pence per rose (32 Euro cents, 45 US cents) - to your flirting target. How big is it? Out of their approx 100,000 registered users last year, Flirtomatic sold 3.5 million virtual red roses in 2007 and made 1.6 million dollars just with this digital innovation. In the process Flirtomatic became one of Britain's biggest florists as well.. Oh, its not the only thing they sell, Flirtomatic has dozens of cool dating/flirting related virtual objects and gifts and personalization.
Unique benefit number 5 - Mobile is only media available at the point of creative inspiration.
This observation of the fifth benefit came courtesy of our friend Tony Fish the famed author of Mobile Web 2.0 etc. The point is, that when we have a moment of creative inspiration, our laptop is safely tucked inside our briefcase and the digital camera is back in our home. But the cameraphone is always with us, ready to go. This is the fundamental key to citizen journalism, such as the case study of Ohmy News that Alan and I talk about in our book Communities Dominate Brands. Bloggers? Once a good mobile blogging solution is offered, most bloggers prefer to do updates and read comments by readers immediately when they happen, via mobile, rather than waiting to connect to their blogsites when they are back at their laptops and connected.
And of the money in this? Take YouTube on the internet. They would love to be able to monetize user-generated video. But SeeMeTV the more advanced mobile video service on the Three/Hutchison networks across the globe has this solution figured out. They pay one penny of royalty to the original creator of the video whenever it is viewed by someone on a 3G phone on their network. There is so much money in this, that in the UK for example, on SeeMeTV the average video creator gets paid 13 UK pounds (20 Euros, 27 US dollars) for others viewing that video. This is not a hit video. Any average user-generated video earns this much. The most popular videos earn thousands of pounds. SeeMeTV and its close clone on the O2 network, LookAtMe, have had over 32 million downloads of user-generated mobile phone videos - and have paid the original creators a total of 800,000 pounds (1.6 million dollars). If you think user-generated content and citizen journalism is the hot trend in media, then this is truly the future of mass media. Only on mobile.
Unique benefit number 6 - Mobile is only media with accurate audience measurement.
The internet gave us a false promise, that it would deliver a "segment of one" perfect audience measurements. But we have multiple accounts, corporate firewalls, shared computers, internet cafes, deliberatey falsified identities, anonymous servers, and yes, those nasty cookies, many users block them or erase them. The promise of perfect audience data on the internet turned out to be a mirage. Not so on mobile. On mobile we know every individual mobile phone subscriber uniquely and perfectly (on digital networks, ie second generation networks or newer, which are over 98% of all mobile phone accounts today. On the old analogue networks it was possible to clone phones and thus fool the network). Having a prepaid account is no way to hide. We may not know my actual name (which is pretty useless in marketing in any case) but we do know perfectly well my full digital footprint. So we know that this same phone number sent 140 SMS text messages during last Sunday's Formula One race when Kimi Raikkonen won in Barcelona; and that the same phone number has downloaded three F1 games, and uses Google and mobile blogs to an F1 blogsite, etc etc etc. AMF Ventures measured the relative performance of three media for audience identity. On TV we can only catch 1% of audience data. On the internet we can capture far more, 10% of audience data. But on mobile, we can capture 90% of audience data. Not perfect, but as near perfect that it doesn't matter. A whole order of magnitude better than on the web and in a different galaxy than Nielsen ratings on TV. In fact many media now use mobile phone data to collect real time audience data, including TV and radio. Hello? TV and radio audience measurements are so lousy, that they use mobile to get more accurate measurements of their active audiences... Time to wake up and smell the cellphone?
A good service illustrating this is our fave story of the moment, UK based free calls and free messages service provider Blyk, targeting 16-24 year old British youth, who agree to watch 6 ads per day to get their free calls and messages. They just reached their first year target of 100,000 users in only 7 months and have incredibly loyal and passionate and fanatical users. What is their grand idea? It is user-generated advertising. What? What was that? User-generated... advertising? Yes, imagine if you can, for a moment, that the recepient of the ad, can be convinced to join and co-create the ad experience. Telling the advertiser which colour I like, which supermodel I like, which rock band I like, etc. They can then tailor my ads to be more unique, more personal, more beloved, than anything on any other media. Like Alan Moore says, "you embrace what you create." If we get the advertising target audience to co-create the experience, they will fall in love with the outcome. Does it work? After six months of bombarding its user base with 6 mobile ads every day, the average RESPONSE rate (not opening rate, the response rate) is 29%. Wow. But get this - on Blyk the biggest complaint that their users have, is they want MORE of the ads. If we know exactly what you like, and we tailor our offering exactly to your tastes, you will never ever ever go back to mainstream old-fashioned media (or advertising) again. Blyk will not only change mobile advertising; they will change advertising.
Unique benefit number 7 - Mobile captures the social context of media consumption.
So here it is, the newest, the seventh benefit of the 7th mass media. It hit me a couple of weeks ago, based on something that Alan blogged about. We talked it over, and came to the conclusion that yes, this is a unique benefit. Only on mobile can we capture the social context of our consumption. Not what we consume (or when, or where) but with whom. Think of Amazon. That wonderfully powerful algorythm that gives the recommendations to us. But that is 1.0 thinking. What did individual users do. Try to find the patterns. What Amazon does not know is who we shared the book with, once we had it. Who did we call or message while we were reading the book. On mobile - and only on mobile - we can capture this social context. Not what I consumed - if I played a Formula One videogame or bought a Ferrari engine sounding ringing tone - but with whom. Did I share it with someone. Did I send messages to someone while I consumed it. Did I call someone. Did I forward a link or coupon to someone. Did I actually influence a friend of mine to ALSO buy it... WOW... THIS is the BIG IDEA. This will be huge, beyond huge, once the industry learns to capitalize on it. Only on mobile, can we accurately capture the social context.
For this I do not have a good case example yet, as this is the bleeding-edge kind of thinking. Companies such as our friends at Xtract are hard at work deploying the technology to capture the social context. Like Alan Moore says, "Social analytics is the new black gold for the 21st century." But consider this - if my network provider bothered to track my phone behaviour, it would spot a peculiar spike in my messaging traffic. On a Sunday my traffic quadruppled. Then next Sunday nothing. But two Sundays later, same pattern. A tight, two-hour period or so, when I send regularly over 100 SMS, often 150 even 200 SMS. A little bit more of analysis, and you would find that its a tight group of numbers, and those people tend to send messages back to me at about the same volume. A few from Finland, a few from the UK, someone from Poland, from Spain, from Singapore, etc. With just the slightest bit of detective work, it would be obvious, that these are clearly Formula One fans. They are watching the F1 race live on TV, and sending lots of SMS text messages about the race. Imagine the power of this insight. If you wanted to draw us into a racing car multiplayer game, or something relating to Ferrari or McLaren or Renault or Toyota, now we know not only who happened to download some F1 content (me), but my social context - most of whom have not bought a Ferrari ringing tone or an F1 racing mobile game.
The social context info is captured automatically to the network - and companies such as Xtract now are deploying solutions to map out these communities and their influencers (Alpha Users) etc. This is to data mining what blogs and YouTube and Facebook were to the internet. We go from data mining 1.0 to data mining 2.0 (like the internet went to web 2.0). Not what we do, but who we do it with. The new black gold. This will be big. And it can only be done through mobile.
So there we have it, seven unique beneifts. But this is not all. Lets look a bit at the limitations of the phone. Yes it is a powerful mass media, but it is not a mature media, it is the most complex business problem ever, and it has a vast range of its unique challenges.
Limitations of the phone
The obvious physical limitations of the 7th Mass Media channel are with the phone and its form factor. The phone needs to be pocketable. So we have a tiny screen and miniscule keypad, where we have to triple-tap our numeric keys to get alphabets. Only a few phones, some Blackberries, some Nokia E-Series etc, have full keyboards. The iPhone has a virtual keyboard on its touch screen. Well over 95% of all mobile phones in use have only a keypad.
Lets start with the screen. Part of the problem is that the screen is small. If we are accustomed to looking at the TV screen or a laptop or desktop PC screen, we are accustomed to a lot of "real estate" visually. Obviously a typical 2 inch to 2.5 inch modern mobile phone screen is very small compared with those. But, we have seen this before. The cinema screen was the first screen. The average movie screen is 12 meters wide (36 feet) and 6 meters tall (18 feet). That gives it a size of 72 square meters. Then came TV, the second screen. The typical 25 inch "old-fashioned" box colour TV set (sorry, I prepared this calculation before plasma screen TVs were popular) is 38 cm tall and 50 cm wide, with a size of 0.19 square meters. The typical cinema screen is 379 times larger than the average TV set from a couple of years ago.
Now lets compare the laptop and the mobile phone. A 13 inch laptop screen is 20 cm tall and 27 cm wide, giving it a size of 540 square cm. A typical current colour screen cameraphone has a 2.2 inch screen which is 3.6 cm tall and 4.2 cm wide with a size of 15 square cm. The laptop screen is only 36 times larger than the mobile phone screen.
Here is my argument. If every movie ever made, was able to manage the transition from the giant cinema screen to the home TV set, which is 379 times smaller; then probably most internet content, that was originally designed for a laptop screen, will manage the transition to the current mobile phone screen that is only 36 times smaller.
Make sense? I am not arguing all internet content needs to manage this transition, but that most will be able to. Not that all of it will be as good - most movie buffs will agree that a movie is never as good on a basic TV as it is in the cinema (obviously not counting the elaborate home cinema set-ups with projection TVs and surround-sound systems etc. I'm talking basic home TV sets now). No, the mobile experience can be less pleasant, but still acceptable. And do remember, it is not for you and me, this media is for our kids, Generation C, those who dont' mind squinting at their Playstation Portables, and watching videos on the even smaller video iPod screens and sending SMS text messages blind, into the night. For that generation, the screen size really does not matter that much.
As to the keypad. Again, Gen C will send out anywhere from 20 up to 100 text messages per day. If you send more than ten messages per day for one month, you are so familiar with your numeric keypad, that your thoughts are input almost subconsciously, by speed-of-thought. Gen C can send out messages with the phone behind their back, or hidden in the pocket, or slipped underneath their sleeve. And most can carry on two simultaneous SMS discussions with two friends on two phones in both hands. The keyboard, stylus and touch screen? Its a crutch only for us digital immigrants, the digital natives love the keypad (and don't use predictive text..)
But wait. Its not a small PC. Its not a pocket internet. It is the 7th Mass Media. It is better. We have the camera.. A picture can tell the story of a thousand words. We don't have to type. It has the microphone. We can record and store the sound. Better than typing. It can do video - a moving picture better than a thousand still images. Yes, on text entry - boring - the phone is a bit worse, but try taking a picture or video just using your laptop and some built-in camera? Or else its the record on one, move to the next device, then connect to the web, etc. No, the integrated camera, video, and microphone give a far richer data entry method than just the 101 key QWERTY keyboard of the classic PC.
And even better yet, for those long website addresses. Only on mobile, we can use 2D barcodes. We don't type anything at all. We just aim our cameraphone at the square "fingerprint" and in half a second, 20 characters appear on our screen, as if by magic. No typing needed. We can zoom off to our websites and blogsites, simply by pointing the cameraphone. Its like the phone was reading our mind. This is magic. This is the future. This is the power of the 7th Mass Media. In just three years from launch, Japanese mobile users are so in love with 2D barcodes, that 76% use them! Three in four Japanese mobile phone users active users of 2D Barcodes in only 3 years (Source Mobikyo 2007)
But there are plenty of problems indeed with mobile as a mass media. Perhaps the biggest are the mobile operators/carriers, who in many markets are still seen as greedy and un-cooperative and just difficult to get along with. There also are problems with the value chain - who gets how much - and then the immense proliferation of handsets. A typical modern market will have 500 models of phones to support at any given time, from more than a dozen major manufacturers. Even all Nokias are not the same. The screen sizes are different, the screen resolutions are different, the colour definition abilities are different, etc etc etc. There are lots of issues still to resolve or make better. I don't want to hide from the fact that this is not all clear sailing - if it was, you would not have the opportunities to strike gold in it, would you? But opportunities are plentiful - 72 Billion dollars of mobile content reveneues were made by your rivals just last year. It will be over 100 Billion this year. Why are you waiting?
So how does this square with the "real internet"
Then we often hear - especially from experts from North America (the laggard market for mobile, so they often say silly things, but they mean well..) - that we need to do the "real internet" on the phone. Like the iPhone. Real internet. Not this WAP nonsense, etc. Yeah. Right. Like we need to put the real horse into our car? Like we need to enable the real symphony orchestra inside our radio? This is a sad pursuit of losing proposition. Yes, we may well find some usage of the classic, dumb, and poor internet on our phones. Yes, perhaps. But what's the point, if the service on the internet was a free service to begin with - what moron bothers to spend millions "mobilizing" a LOSING proposition? Just look at the numbers. If the total content industry on the web is only worth 45 Billion dollars (mostly advertising, adult entertainent and gambling) and the mobile content is already worth 72 Billion, growing faster and gaining new users faster - where do YOU want to be (unless you're a pornographer or gambler). The mobile content users and mobile content revenues and mobile content profits are all growing much faster than those on the internet, why even bother? If someone wants the full internet, let them go buy a laptop and get a WiFi connection and do it. Nobody is stopping them. But remember Flirtomatic, remember Habbo Hotel, remember Cyworld - the real money is on the mobile side. Why even bother to force the "real internet" onto the phone.
Now I don't mean there isn't a market for the iPhone, with its nice large 3.5 inch screen. What it needs obviously is 3G (or actually 3.5G) to get real speed (and one-handed operation of SMS, ha-ha). But that is NOT the form factor or the utility of the mobile services business. That is using a mobile phone to access the 6th mass media. Yes, that can be done. Many will do it. But that is not our industry. Its like using your TV to listen to radio. Yes, it can be done, but its a bit cumbersome. Most people who own a TV, have bought radio sets after the TV, and tend to listen to radio on their radios, not on their TV sets.
This is quite a fundamental insight, again out of the 7th Mass Media concept. We can have the real internet on our phones (come on, even the very first Nokia Communicator model in 1997 provided the full real internet - in a wide screen display 640 x 200 - wider than the iPhone - eleven years ago). But that is not the power of the 7th Mass Media. That is a patchwork solution to access a legacy media on a newer technology.
Customer Needs on the 7th Mass Media
When we use our mobile phone, we are in a hurry. When we use our phone, we are private. When we use our phone we are distracted trying to do several things at the same time, like being in a meeting or cooking dinner. When we use our phone, it is often not planned - someone else contacted us, called us, sent us an SMS, that forces us to react during our lunch, or in the taxi cab, or on the train, or yes, in our bathroom or bed. When we use our phone, very often we have something valuable or heavy in our other hand, such as the briefcase with our laptop, or the groceries we just bought, or the hand or our child as we cross the street from the kindergarden; or perhaps the steering wheel of our car.
What we need on mobile services, are very efficient, small solutions. Fast above anything else. Not email on a phone (the Blackberry model - what a typical waste of an idea, a total crutch for the digital immigrant if ever there was one) but SMS on the phone. Not selling CD's of music to the iPod user, but rather make much more money selling ringing tones and ringback tones to our phone. Not a massively multiplayer online game like World of Warcraft, but rather a sudoku puzzle. Our content needs to fit our media. The more we do that, the more we can capitalize on our media.
Don't try to force TV onto the phone (CNN headline video clips). Don't try to re-format XGA screen size internet pages to the tiny mobile screens. Rather, develop custom apps and solutions that address mobile needs. Search? Spend more of the brainpower on the algorythm giving me the a few real answers rather than 60,000 pages to scroll through. Any Question Answered (AQA) in Britain made 8 million pounds (16 million dollars) doing just that - an honest real answer to any question via SMS, from the utterly serious to the ludicrously silly (often sent when drunk at a bar). This is the 7th Mass Media. Don't copy. Invent. And so forth.
We need to tailor our solutions to mobile. Again, lets learn from the true pioneers. MTV, one of our continuing fave stories in my books and on this blog. When MTV shoots Jackass, they now do it with two separate camera crews. One is optimized for the TV show, the other is optimized for the mobile screen. Both will shoot the same action, but the specialists will know what works on which media. This is the level of thinking we need. Don't copy. Develop expressly for the 7th Mass Media.
What of advertising and the 7th Mass Media Channel?
So yes, advertising has appeared on all mass media in some way or another. The first mobile ads appeared in Finland in 2000 to support free daily news via SMS. The first modern mobile advertising company was formed in Japan in 2001 when the biggest mobile operator NTT DoCoMo and Japan's biggest ad agency Dentsu joined to launch D2. In 2007 mobile advertising was worth 2.2 B dollars (Informa, 2007) and is growing at dramatic rates.
The primarly advertising types making most money today are spam SMS text messages and banner ads on WAP pages. These are both copies of earlier media. Spam SMS is adapted from spam email, itself a digital copy of snailmail based junk mail or "personalized mail". Meanwhile banner ads are copies of web banner ads, which are digital adaptations of magazine and newspaper ads. This is not the way! We shoudl not be satisfied only to copy the existing formats, we need to learn to use the full abilities of the 7th Mass Media.
What Google did with Adwords, they invented a new advertising format for the internet - search advertising. And in so doing, they revolutionlized web advertising, and today search ads are the biggest part of online ads. We need to do the same for mobile ads. And I don't mean copying adwords (arghhh...) I mean just like Google innovated creating a new advertising format for the internet, now we need to invent new advertsising formats for mobile. Oh, and the adwords auctioned ad concept of Google? Flirtomatic has already adapted that for their "First Face" concept. If you want to be featured as the first face to welcome Flirtomatic members, the current auctioned price is about 8 UK pounds (16 dollars) for six hours. If you have a good smile, that should get you a couple of hundred new friends in a hurry...
But back to mobile ads (no, actually Flirtomatic First Face is of course mobile ads, but lets move beyond those.) Another part is mobile coupons. We can do much more with digital coupons on mobile than with coupons on any other media, as we can embed info on who received the coupon and who forwarded it, and in which store it was redeemed etc. We can send barcode info on MMS picture messaging. We can use the 2D Barcode readers to transmit info to the phone and owner. We can even credit direct cash or virtual money to the phone owners, as they already do in advanced markets such as Japan, with given campaigns. If done properly, the response rates can be astronomical - Aircross in South Korea had a campaign for Gillette razors, well targeted and with a great proposition, which produced a 98% response rate. Come on? We can do so much better than spam or banner ads.
Part of it is mobile marketing, defined more broadly than just advertising. We can include all kinds of customer relationship benefits including aftercare, such as alerts and information via SMS when your car is fixed and ready to be picked up at the garage, or the library informing you when your book has arrived, or your book needs to be returned - or can even be renewed via SMS without walking the book physically back to the library for renewal, etc. There are thousands of solutions in this space, from the hairdressers who send reminders for booked appointments, to dentists who re-schedule cancelled appointments to those with urgent dental care needs. There are medical bottles with alerts which have in-built clocks that prevent overdose, but include a sensor to detect if the pill has not been taken - to send the alert to the nurse or loved one (grandfather forgot to take his 8 o'clock pill again). There is even an intelligent sunscreen bottle and service which tracks how long you've been in the sun - adjusting for cloud cover - and informs you when to get into the shade or apply a stronger sunblock. This is mobile marketing, not just mobile advertising.
Of course the ultimate is engagement marketing, the core competence of Alan Moore's company SMLXL, so I won't spend much on this. But the best tool to engage with customers is mobile (you can do engagement on other media too) and the trailblazer for this area is obviously Blyk, with their user-generated ads and so forth. But if you are in advertising today, you need to understand mobile as the 7th Mass Media channel, not just as the dumb little brother of digital or interactive media.
But wait, there is more
Yes, as so often is the case, your friendly consultant with all that free info, has still some more free stuff for you. I've just totally rewritten my 2 year old Thought Piece on the 7th Mass Media, and updated it for current numbers and data and examples. As it is only 2 intensely packed pages of stats and figures and sources and cases, it makes a great document for you to send to your colleagues and friends, who may need to know, but don't want to wade through some crazy Finnish guy's meandering blog postings, ha-ha.. As always, if you'd like the free Though Piece on Mobile as 7th Mass Media, send me an email to tomi at tomiahonen dot com, and I will send you the Thought Piece by return email.