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Mobile Breakfast 2019: Insights and Recap

Posted By Don Lupo, Friday, March 29, 2019
By Dan Wittmers
Photos by Craig Tovey

On March 20, at what has become one of LA’s tentpole events, hundreds of media, marketing and technology professionals met at the Beverly Hilton Hotel for the ninth annual ThinkLA Mobile Breakfast. The goal of this year’s content was to share battle-tested strategies on how to better connect with, create for and convert through mobility; ultimately elevating attendees’ mobile competence.


This year’s speaker line-up featured not one but two San Francisco-based CMOs in Cory Treffiletti of Voicea and Heidi Browning of the National Hockey League, both of whom delivered dynamic and insightful keynote presentations.

Cory kicked off the morning’s content with a presentation surrounding the evolution of the mobile platform to date and where he sees it going from here. The overarching message was underpinned by the idea that mobile phones have become the remote control for our lives. They’ve become our "Head of Operations" for our staff of digital assistants and even the digital representation of us as individuals.

One of the most thought-provoking takeaways from his presentation was that we’ve reached a tipping point in the evolution of technology as a whole – one where "humans can stop having to learn how to understand machines and machines can finally understand humans".

Just think about that for a minute. That means that technology has finally caught up with humans enough so that we can go back to using phones for what they were originally intended – voice-based communication – and it’s all been made possible thanks to the advancements in artificial intelligence.

According to Cory, “Mobile is a voice-centric platform and voice-activated AI is the natural means for interacting with this device.” As we look to the future, “Mobile will become even more important as the gateway to voice-activated AI.” In his opinion, “It really is the final UI”.

During the following hour of content, ThinkLA brought in highly experienced panelists to discuss the topics of connecting with and creating for the mobilized consumer. There seemed to be a bit of debate over whether mobile is, and/or should be, an advertising platform. During the ‘Connect Panel’, Benny Thomas from Rise & Shine & Partners kicked off the debate by suggesting, “We should stop looking at this as an advertising platform. The medium is about Customer Service and deep social.”

The "Create Panel" had somewhat of a differing opinion on that topic. There seemed to be consensus by these panelists that, when done right, mobile can serve as an engaging platform for both marketing and advertising. “The biggest question CMO’s and other creative leaders should be asking themselves”, according to Greg Crockart from Mirum Agency, is “was this [creative execution] made for mobile or does it just work on mobile?” The answer to this question will almost always determine whether you’re winning in mobile or just participating.

Where both sides of this debate were able to find common ground was that the mobile platform is the most personal device we carry. It requires more strategic thought and nuanced messaging than what most advertisers are giving it. Many companies have either repositioned their mobile experts into broader digital roles or eliminated their mobile teams all together. Melissa Eccles from Amazon Studios may have nailed it on the head with one of my favorite soundbites of the morning when she said, “Today’s mobile advertising tends to be a bit schizophrenic.” She explained, “People don’t totally know what they want to say on mobile and, as a result, advertisers’ channel strategies tend to overrule strategy in general.”

To add to that, Joao Machado from Sabio Mobile posed a provocative question. He prefaced it with, “There’s no doubt – mobile has the eyeballs and is the most important tool we have in our lives with regards to consuming media. For years it’s been pulling in our TV habits, our radio habits, our reading habits.” To which he asked, “How do we [now] go back to brands to remind them how important it is to build experiences for today’s mobile-first world?” A question we should all spend time considering on a daily basis.

One brand that doesn’t seem to need much outside help answering these questions is the National Hockey League. Over the past couple of years, the marketing team at the NHL, led by digital native Heidi Browning, has been engaging hockey goers with innovative technologies that enhance the fan experience while providing more actionable data back to the league.

During her closing keynote, Heidi spoke to the importance mobile is playing at both the club and league levels. On the top of her list of mobile-first improvements was in regard to ticketing. According to Heidi, “Mobile ticketing has had a significant impact on the reduction of fraud, but it’s also had an equally significant impact on the understanding of identity of our fans.” Approximately 90% of the league’s teams currently use the technology and moving tickets from printouts to mobile devices now provides an all access, opted-in pass to the individual sitting in Section 103, Row J, Seat 13.

It doesn’t stop there! By working directly with arena architects, the league is re-imagining the fan experience [quite literally] from the ground up. Imagine unlocking your box suite through facial recognition or receiving free seat upgrades via a push notification. Imagine real-time stats updates streamed directly to your phone while sitting in a sports betting lounge or in-seat food and beverage ordering and delivery. Well imagine no longer! These are just some of the mobile-enabled upgrades arenas are already rolling out.

For those of you watching at home – the NHL hasn’t forgotten you, either. In an effort to improve the in-home viewing experience, the NHL has been working hard on new player/puck tracking technology. By placing sensors on the players and within the puck, the league has been able to enhance the viewing experience through augmented reality in the form of data-filled player halos that show real-time player stats. The sensors track at 200 data points per second, which has opened the door to virtual reality broadcasts as well. Whether you prefer to enjoy the game in person or from your couch at home, the NHL is using mobile-first technology to improve your experience.

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Dan Wittmers head of digital for HB2 Group.

Tags:  2019  breakfast  mobile 

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