Taking The Internet Mobile – Mobile Squared Roadshow

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Organised by CamerJam, this was the first MobileSQUARED Roadshow.

I was extremely proud to be ask to represent Vodafone on the “Operators’ Panel” – but I’ll let others review my slot.

I want to concentrate on the four aspects of the day I found fascinating.  As ever, these views are my own.


As some of you know, I boycott Nestlé. So I was unable to try any of the sponsor’s ice-cream.

Nestlé-Free Zone

However, what they said about their mobile strategy shocked me.
They don’t have one.
The CEO talked about how he only vaguely knew what an iPhone was, how he didn’t know how many mobile users his site got, and that he couldn’t see the need for a mobile strategy!

Pretty strong stuff for a mobile love-in.

Then, it struck me; he’s a normob. Not only that, but he runs a direct to business company. What’s the point in him having any customer facing proposition.
When was the last time you went to Cadbury’s, Kelloggs, or Carte D’or’s website – let alone bothered to see if they had a mobile site?  Would having m.movenpick.com bring him any business?  Mobile companies need to start talking the language of “old” business if they want to make any headway.


The makers of sugar water made a refreshing change. They talked enthusiastically about their QR campaign. The created a mobile friendly site, stuck QR codes on 400 million Pepsi cans and bottle, and hired Kelly Brook (who?). The results were staggering. Over 12 million views of their “viral” videos, and hits to their site exceeding any previous promotion.

Pepsi's QR Code

Pepsi's QR Code

Of particular interest to me was the way they tracked usage. Each SKU had a unique QR code – so they could tell if they were getting more hits from 330ml cans or 2 litre bottles.

Pepsi described QR codes as being like Marmite – but after the success of their campaign, more of the company were in the “Love It” camp.  The campaign did seem fairly male focused – their strategy of putting a pouting woman in a tight dress certainly encouraged one demographic to find out more.  Pepsi’s sexist adverts have drawn a lot of criticism – and rightly so – I can’t help but wonder if it would have been twice as successful had they also put a hunk in a tight t-shirt on there as well as / instead of an occasional swimwear designer.


I’ve never seen a bad presentation from Flirtomatic. Mark Curtis, the CEO, was no exception. It’s not surprising they’ve recently won smaarto’s Mobile Web Award.



Flirtomatic started out with a J2ME application. Thinking they could have complete control of the UI and customer experience, they quickly realised the developing apps is a high investment activity with very low penetration and thus low returns.

So they made the decision to go purely to mobile web and it has been a phenomenal success. They’re now profitable in the UK and are expanding into the US.
The reach that a mobile website gives them far exceeds any application, development costs are lower, upgrading customers is more simple and the experience can still be tailored to each phone.

All that being said, they are “reluctantly” looking at Android and iPhone development. From what I can understand it’s more about fitting in with the expectations of the hype-cycle than expecting any serious RoI.

At the moment, the top handset on Flirtomatic accounts for just 5% of page views, the rest are under 1%.  As Mark put it, “there is no long tail – the whole thing is a tail!”


Various speakers made reference to mobile internet advertising

  • If you advertise a mobile service on a mobile service, you’ll get a good response. Mostly because you’re targetting customers who know how to work their phones.
  • You can’t simply transfer your web banner adverts to mobile – campaigns have to be carefully considered.
  • Mobile needs its own distinct way of advertising. Banners are for the web, commercials are for TV.
  • Mark Curtic thought that mobile adverts should take on a Burma Shave style of sequential adverts.  Ensure that each advert a user sees relates to a previous one – even across different sites.


  • Cost. As I was presenting, I got a free ticket – others had to pay ~£350 for the half day conferennce. I do find these conferences useful, but are they £350 more useful than a similarly targetted BarCamp? For now, they are. But as more and more “professionals” start going to BarCamps, I think we’ll see enhanced value for money at paid-for conferences.
  • Lack of women. Women make up 50% of our customers. There were a large number of women in the audience. Yet there was only one on the stage. The technology industry really has to tackle this sexism.

Overall, a thoroughly useful and enjoyable day.

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