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« Honda F1 sheds sponsor logos, goes "green" in its branding | Main | If your culture insulates departments from creative destruction, discourages risk-taking, and thus resists bringing customers into company decision-making, then your organization faces huge problems. »

February 27, 2007



Operators and media companies sit at the exact opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of cultural and media savviness. Mobile operators are very engineering focused and extremely conservative in their approach to the critical operational aspects of running a cellular network

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Usman

Good point. I've been doing a lot of that shuttling between the big telecoms players and various media companies the past few years and you're very right. Its a huge adjustment for both sides

Thanks for writing

Tomi :-)

Jasslyn Ye

I agree with Sarah Lipman, commented on June 7. I'm doing mobile internet advertising and it seems that many brands are still very conservative towards this new medium. There are obviously many great deals about choosing mobile as a medium in reaching out to the consumers, and the one thing that is hindering it's growth further is no other than erm... Telcos.. are you here??
Yeah, pls send me this thought piece too thanks!


Hi Tomi,

Could you please send me the Thought Piece.

I live in Portugal where we face a strange situation...There are more mobile phones than people, but yet we are lagging behind when it comes to effective use of the mobile media.

Both media owners and advertisers are only just starting to look into mobile, where the major mobile carriers await them patiently.The buzz has finally arrived, but the € haven't yet =)

thanks for a very interesting read


[email protected]

Richard O'Connor

A very thought provoking blog and I would very much appreciate the thought piece as I am giving a lecture at a university on newspapers and mobile on Monday. I run the Creative Solutions Team at The Independent and Indy on Sunday newspapers and would be interested in your thoughts from a different perspective. We are just getting to grips with how we can add mobile - particularly mobile video - to ad campaigns for clients. The opportunities are great but there are still barriers. Yes, the mobile is the most peronal of the mass media but with that comes the highly emotive issue of intrusion. Whilst people are now quite used to brand messages via the internet in much the same way they are with newspapers, it is not the same with mobile. In order for people not feel that their 'virtual personal space' (for want of a better phrase) has not been violated the content,tone, timing and audience all need to be just right. When these are right the message can more impactful than most other forms of advertising but when it isn't, the negative impact is equally as significant. Therfore, from an advertising perspective, 'cautious optimism' seems to be about the right position.


Alan Moore

Dear Richard,

If you would like Tomi and I to talk to you about how we could help you and the Independent - do get in touch. Tomi has so much useful advice - we both bring different perspectives and capability. Also you might be interested that my company SMLXL has done a great of work looking at magazines and newspapers. And we both teach mobile social networking/advertising at the Oxford University for Continuing Education

We say that people need brands and brands need people the skill is to deliver the right message at the right time so its currency rises from interruptive to valuable information that is 1). Life enabling 2). Life Simplifying or 3). Navigational

You can contact me alanm (AT) smlxtralarge (DOT) com

Thanks for posting. BTW do you have our paper on mobile as the 7th Mass Media? Let me know and I can send it to you

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Yasslyn, Francisco, Richard and Alan

Thank you all for writing

Yasslyn - good observation and totally in line with what we see everywhere. Its very cautious early going still. Note that I've blogged today on the first comparative study I've seen contrasting effectiveness of mobile vs internet advertising. Helps bring about the interest into this new media.

Francisco - ha-ha, don't worry, thats the same situation in most markets. The rapid adoption of mobile phones has taken everybody by surprise, including the "experts" in mobile. So certainly the rest of the media industries are still quite bewildered how to deal with mobile. The operators themselves are still wondering how exactly to monetize this opportunity. But keep your eyes on our blog, we'll be reporting on all the good stuff we see in this space, and as you find clever innovations in POrtugal, please do let us know, we'll blog about those as well.

Richard - thank you for writing, I'm sorry I've been on my new year's winter break and missed your comment when you originally posted it, so I'm sorry I wasn't able to respond in time for your lecture. I hope we can still assist you in some way, and am happy Alan did reply here to you already.

But of the point you raise - yes, doing a cross-platform campaign (that is by the way Alan's company's specialty, SMLXL does Engagement Marketing and is very competent at cross-platform marketing campaigns especially if you include mobile) - I think good guidance can come from two other thought-leaders in this new industry. The CEO of South Korean mobile advertising company Aircross, Dr BJ Yang, says that the mobile phone is a personal fun space. Personal and fun. So obviously we don't want to - cannot infact - invade that space. Every single campaign to every single recepient MUST be permission based.

Then it must be made "fun" to that target. Now, what is fun for me as a 48 year old techie-oriented globetrotting consultant-author here in Hong Kong, is certainly very different from what is "fun" for my 16 year old nephews and nieces in Finland. So each campaign must be designed with far more creativity and targeting precision. Like Alan likes to say, we are entering the advertising era of "mass niche" audiences, and the phone as the 7th Mass Media will lead in enabling that.

The other guiding thought comes from Mike Beeston the CEO of Fjord the mobile (and converged) user interface specialist design house out of London. Mike says that every mobile advertising campaign should be designed to be "sufficiently contageous". That does not mean "absolutely contageous" ie we are not going to immediately forward the ad by massive spam campaign to all 200 numbers on our phone. But it should be sufficiently contageous, meaning that for the initial target audience, the targets feel compelled to forward it to at least one other person.

One other person. Compelled to forward. That is sufficiently contageous. If that happens, the initial recepient will NEVER think it is an intrusion. If I liked it SO much that I felt an immediate urge to forward it to someone else, then I must have liked it a lot.

Obviously to achieve sufficiently contageous, you have to have a viral element to the mobile campaign, like a forwarding feature, a link that can be forwarded, a coupon or tester, etc.

But those are my quick comments here via the blog. I'll write to you Richard separately as well. Both Alan and I have worked with several print publishers in helping them get involved with mobile into their media mix.

Alan - thanks for replying to Richard

Thank you all for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Daudi Cole


Wonderful insight and information on the direction of mobile. Please send me "Thought Piece"



Alan Moore

Dear Wad and Liam,

I need your email addresses plaese send them to alan (DOT) smlxl (AT) gamil (DOT) com



Hi Tomi,

I'd like to receive your Thought Piece.

Thank you very much.


Cíntia Gabilan

Hi Tomi!
Yes, I'd really like to receive the piece you have written on this topic: [email protected]
thanks a lot!

Jeff Paul Big League Players Club

Hi, Great post! I felt great reading your blog post. I’m working with my friend in a small internet marketing business as a web developer. When I’m free I go around for some IT info

cell phone

Great piece.



This is an interesting point of view. I've been working in mobile communication industry before stepping into marketing communications and I'm glad I can find such detailed arguments on what the 3rd screen marketing is likely to become. I've just posted a succesful case-study on mobile marketing, which debates the importance of the 1st screen marketing - the TV:
You're welcome to take part in the debate and let people know what's your point of view.
All the best from the UK!!


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This is a great post. Reminded me of a phrase I saw somewhere about media changes, dont know where i saw it.

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That is a powerful idea. You're directly addressing all the critics, a group I usually find myself in.

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    Tomi Ahonen is a bestselling author whose twelve books on mobile have already been referenced in over 100 books by his peers. Rated the most influential expert in mobile by Forbes in December 2011, Tomi speaks regularly at conferences doing about 20 public speakerships annually. With over 250 public speaking engagements, Tomi been seen by a cumulative audience of over 100,000 people on all six inhabited continents. The former Nokia executive has run a consulting practise on digital convergence, interactive media, engagement marketing, high tech and next generation mobile. Tomi is currently based out of Helsinki but supports Fortune 500 sized companies across the globe. His reference client list includes Axiata, Bank of America, BBC, BNP Paribas, China Mobile, Emap, Ericsson, Google, Hewlett-Packard, HSBC, IBM, Intel, LG, MTS, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Ogilvy, Orange, RIM, Sanomamedia, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Three, Tigo, Vodafone, etc. To see his full bio and his books, visit Tomi Ahonen lectures at Oxford University's short courses on next generation mobile and digital convergence. Follow him on Twitter as @tomiahonen. Tomi also has a Facebook and Linked In page under his own name. He is available for consulting, speaking engagements and as expert witness, please write to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com

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