FASTforward: Mobile Services

Timo Teimonen of StarCut, a mobile media publisher, was up to discuss how the mobile internet is transforming. The incredible growth in mobile internet access over the past few years means that people are no longer happy with seeing full-format web pages on their small screen, but want content tailored to the smaller form factor. A huge portion of the market, mostly in Asia, experience the internet only on their mobile, and almost never on a PC except perhaps in a workplace environment. This creates challenges not just for content presentation, but also for search and monetization, with the added issues of localization and contextualization: creating search results and ad content, for example, that’s based on the user’s current location.

The heart of mobile value is based on contextuality: mobile users are willing to trade a bit of their location and preferences privacy in order to get more targeted product and service information. The mobile phone is the bit of information access that people carry with them anywhere, providing the perfect platform for extremely local advertising based on relationships and information about the user. Traditional advertising is extremely inefficient; mobile advertising can be much more efficient at delivering relevant content to people based on where they are and what they’re looking for. In turn, mobile content providers have an incredible amount of information about how people user their content: the Zagat mobile site, which is based on StarCut’s platform, can gather information about what type of restaurant that a customer searches for, be able to provide recommendations based on location and preferences, and even allow for online reservations through the mobile device. In this way, mobile allows advertising and other content to be directly connected to physical retail: a true bridging from the virtual to physical worlds.

I can definitely relate to this, since I live within close proximity of my Blackberry at all time: a device that I use primarily for data access (email, web access, and specialized services such as Google Maps) rather than voice. Mobile content is a big part of my life, and the lives of many of the people with whom I interact, and I believe the quality of this content will greatly improve as localization and contextualization improves.

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