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The Drum Mobile Awards

"Cars will become the worlds largest smartphones" Q+A with MOMA's judge Ross Sleight


By The Drum Team, Editorial

March 7, 2013 | 6 min read

With the MOMAs (Marketing on Mobile Awards) judging scheduled to take place in April, The Drum will ask each of the judges for some of their own points of view around what is happening within the exponentially growing sector that is mobile.

Ross Sleight is chief strategy officer at Somo

Here, Ross Sleight chief strategy officer for Somo, talks wearable technology, playing the long game with mobile wallets, and cars becoming the world's largest smartphones.

Having spent 20 years in digital and seeing the industry grow what was the game changer and is there anything of that ilk in the offing now?

Digital has seen many new game changing platform and service cycles over the past two decades; from the growth of the Internet itself, to search, social media and now mobile with smartphone and tablet devices. Each cycle has been characterised by the introduction of ground breaking technology which in true Gartner Hype cycle is embraced by the early adopters. Mass market adoption is usually accompanied by an increase in speed of delivery - the jump from dial up to broadband at home at the turn of the century drove Internet penetration and usage into mass market for example.

What's fascinating today is the extreme velocity of adoption of new platform and services. We now have over 60 per cent adult smartphone penetration in the UK after just five years, and approaching half of this for tablet penetration in around 2.5 years. The mass market are adopting new technologies faster than ever before, and this means marketers are playing catchup to even keep up with consumer behaviour and attention.

In terms of new game changers in platforms we see wearable technology and machine to machine engagement (the Internet of things) being the key developments in the next five years, but it will be in the world of services that we will see he most development. Services will respond to the context of users customers. Contexts such as in-store or in-front of TV require services that blend the digital and physical worlds to help the customer. We will see existing mobile platforms as the delivery methodology for the majority of these context relevant services.

What is the main factor in preventing the mass adoption of mobile wallets at the current time?

Well, the first is really roll out - we've yet to see a full roll out of a mobile wallet in the UK like Weve or Google Wallet with full functionality, a big fanfare and associated marketing. Secondly, we see two different aspects to mobile wallets. There's the transactional element, both for distance purchasing and for NFC or scanning in store. We're already using mobile wallets for distance purchasing albeit in name (e.g. paypal mobile, or pingit) but physical scanning/NFC will take a lot of time and money for roll out of in store equipment to facilitate universal scanning, and it will depend on who is prepared to fund this significant capital investment.

Then there's the promotional aspect of mobile wallets - the vouchers, coupons and other promotional activity that will be informed by both the user profile and the wallet transaction usage. I think here we are already fairly sophisticated with existing loyalty schemes like Nectar and Clubcard, and impulse promotional services like Vouchercloud or Groupon. So the promotional element will have to be offer something really significant if this is used as the primary reason for behaviour change.

Ultimately I'm long on mobile wallets - in a decade they will be mass market, but I'm short on the hype that surrounds specific areas of transaction like NFC.

What phone/tablet do you own and what do you like / not like about it?

I have a variety of devices - currently an iPhone5 and a Nexus4, and have recently switched from an iPad to an iPad Mini. As I make fewer phone calls every year, I feel I'm close to switching over to an iPad Mini as a sole device - the size for content consumption and for light touch content creation (e.g. Evernote in meetings) is absolutely perfect and I'm doing a lot of presenting off the mini as well.

What is the most exciting development around mobile at the moment?

Having just returned from MWC 13 in Barcelona, aside from the huge opportunity for mobile products and services in the developing world, for the UK I was most interested in the role of mobile in the context of in-car. Providing navigation, location context and entertainment services either through a phone or sim - cars will become the worlds largest smartphones.

I think "in-car" joins "in-store" and "in-front of TV" as the three most interesting areas of mobile today. All three are very much about the role of mobile in linking a physical world to a digital world. No longer is it just about what is consumed on the mobile device itself, its the ability for mobile to augment the physical world to help the customer and create enhanced experiences. The same will go for sensor driven and wearable technology. This is the real disruptive power of mobile - freeing the digital world from a set location to help consumers navigate and augment their real life experiences.

There are 29 MOMA categories covering all aspects of mobile marketing, from apps to innovative use of mobile and user experience to use of video. The awards are open to any UK based individual, agency, company or business producing effective mobile strategies and campaigns. Registrations and entries should be made via the MOMA website by Friday 22 March.

The Drum Mobile Awards

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