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"It’s a massively fragmented market and is still evolving fast" - Nancy Cruickshank talks Weve, mobile and buying shoes in the back of a taxi


By Jessica Davies, News Editor

February 15, 2013 | 6 min read

Nancy Cruickshank, launch CEO of mobile start-up Weve and founder of, shares her thoughts on mobile marketing with The Drum’s Jessica Davies.

Digital entrepreneur and mother of two Nancy Cruickshank is no stranger to change, having been at the forefront of some of the most interesting digital developments in the market, the latest of which is mobile marketing and wallet joint venture Weve.“I wasn’t an expert in mobile a year ago, I probably thought I was given how long I’ve worked in digital, but the changes that have occurred in the past year have been astonishing. It’s a massively fragmented market and is still evolving fast. It’s fiercely competitive and incredibly exciting as it does something digital itself can’t – it connects together the physical and virtual worlds,” she says.Cruickshank’s career in digital has spanned nearly two decades, in a range of high-profile, senior roles including managing director of Hearst Digital and, global CEO of how-to site VideoJug, and executive director of digital development at the Telegraph Media group. Her entrepreneurial spirit has most recently led her to join one of the most interesting start-ups in the market - Weve. This is no ordinary start-up however, but one that has the backing of three of the biggest players in the UK mobile market – EE, O2 and Vodafone – which together have an 80 per cent market share.All three shareholders have now integrated their customer opt-in databases into Weve, meaning the platform, created to push mobile marketing and wallets into the mainstream, now has a combined customer opt-in database of 15 million which it will use to provide tailored, personally-relevant messaging on behalf of advertisers.Weve will also advise brands and agencies how best to target campaigns and will offer data analysis of previous campaigns so it can feed back useful information on customer behavioural patterns.This is just the beginning for the B2B joint venture and it is hungry for more operators, including 3, Tesco and Virgin Mobile, to join and share their own opt-in databases, according to Cruickshank.“The use of opt-in, first-party customer data is key to defining joined-up mobile experiences that are tailored and personally relevant to individuals. There is a lot of bulk mobile messaging being sent out and we can help this market by adding some intelligence to it with the data. In a few months’ time we can work with big brands and say let’s match your data to ours, anonymously, to ensure you are segmenting your own existing audience and offering the best, tailored messages for each person, rather than sending out blanket ones,” she says.Weve currently runs targeted SMS text campaigns on behalf of advertisers and is gearing up to launch location-based display advertising services, meaning marketers can run targeted mobile display campaigns via a standardised platform across the three networks for the first time.Cruickshank believes mobile marketing has traditionally been undermined by bad targeting. “I’ve been married 16 years and yet you wouldn’t believe how many dating ads I get served on mobile – there is no understanding of me as a consumer – but when I’m sent a more personally relevant message I have used it and purchased from it. That to me is what’s interesting – when a message can be sent to me at just the right moment with a particular product that is useful to me at that time, rather than being bombarded with irrelevant ads,” she says.It is the potential mobile has to seamlessly join up the multichannel consumer journey as well as help high street retailers overcome some of the challenges they face in driving in-store footfall, according to Cruickshank.“The high street faces a huge challenge compared to pure-play e-commerce businesses, but if we can use our data to help encourage people to those stores, once they are there the mobile phone can act as an intensely personal concierge service, showing you information on how you are using loyalty cards in-store and how to activate and redeem your coupons in one place – it’sabout creating the next-generation platform for customer engagement,” she says.Cruickshank describes mobile phones as “intensely invaluable, personal and relevant to each of us”, adding “it’s inconceivable to us that mobile won’t be the most important communications platform in the not-too distant future, if it’s not already. “I browse so many different sites every day on my phone and do a lot of my shopping via mobile – I love nothing more than ordering a pair of shoes on Net-APorter in the back of a cab – just to see my husband’s face really,” she jokes.The other major part of Weve’s business will be to offer a standardised mobile payment platform through which banks and payment firms can more easily integrate to offer mobile wallets to consumers across multiple handsets.This will launch after the marketing services have been more fully developed, requiring more lead time to integrate with the banks along with near-field communications (NFC).“Whether it is media or payments the whole proposition is geared around making it simple, seamless and effective for brands to embrace mobile,” she adds. Cruickshank will continue in her role as launch CEO until the end of March, when newly appointed CEO David Sear will take the helm. She will focus on driving her beauty retailer start-up, which she founded in 2011.
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