Mobile Revolution, or Evolution?

Josh GordonAfter the conclusion of last week’s 2010 Retail Innovation & Marketing Conference . I had the opportunity to reflect more on the content presented, and the way in which it was presented. The form of presentation matters a great deal because it directly contributes to how the audience digests something. Rarely have I seen a keynote or breakout session at an industry event that did not contribute some valuable takeaways. However, occasionally I will see a keynote that misses the mark to a degree, or at least contributes as much to perpetuate confusion about a topic than it does to advancing the dialog. Such is the case with shopkick’s Cyriac Roeding and his keynote last week.

Roeding definitely contributed some interesting, valuable bits during his keynote entitled The Mobile Revolution. For example, I wrote last week about his idea that a cross-channel marketing strategy does not exist without mobile as the glue . I completely agree with that statement, and am glad Roeding was gutsy enough to say it to a room full of retailers with differing interpretations of the term “cross-channel.” I also generally agree with his statement that a mobile device is the most social device a consumer will ever purchase. Another good point.

However, the idea of a “mobile revolution” – as in the title of the keynote – is a misnomer. I think the term is not just hackneyed and watered down, but downright misleading. A “revolution” infers doing away with one thing and replacing it with another. By definition it is a “thorough replacement” or an “overthrow” or “repudiation.” For example, a government revolution will completely wipe out an existing form of government and replace it with something new. Mobile, at least in a marketing context, is not in a revolutionary state – it is in an evolutionary state. Mobile’s evolution is one of the reasons it is considered so exciting.

The audience at the event was also scattered along the entire spectrum of marketing sophistication. I spoke to marketers who worked for retailers still resistant to an online presence at all. With such a motley grouping of marketing talent with widely variant levels of digital marketing adoption, extra context is valuable to relate to the entire audience. Roeding did a wonderful job of communicating projects that are valuable to those on the farthest reaches of the bleeding edge of mobile marketing – not coincidentally the target audience of shopkick’s marketing – but for many marketers in that keynote mobile is still new, scary, and confusing. The ease of beginning mobile marketing – allowing for toe-dipping – was nowhere to be found.

Now, I completely realize the title of the conference was not the “Retail Traditional Marketing Conference.” And Roeding contributed many valuable takeaways. But, a larger than expected faction of marketers were likely a bit put off by the keynote, and may have rolled their eyes when some of shopkick’s current projects were revealed and the address was injected with a bit of a sales pitch.

To keep marketing adoption of the mobile channel moving forward at a steady and reasonable pace, the bleeding edge and migrant traditional marketing audiences can be dually addressed. For every one really cool, cutting edge and fascinating mobile project that is mind blowing there are thousands of tactical, practical concepts that go without an introduction because they are not “sexy” enough to be featured in the industry news or conference agenda.

The event’s content was amazing. I know I learned a great deal from Roeding and every speaker. I also realize that the cutting edge stuff often gets the notoriety, and rightly so. But I also hope migrating traditional marketers – who exist in droves – get the information they deserve to advance mobile , and every other form of marketing.

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  1. Judith Copeland
    Posted March 8, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Mobile is definitely expanding the marketing, technology and application landscape. It is yet another platform, however, and infrastructure, the need for more bandwidth and skinner apps, are needed to evolve the mobile platform.



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