For a long time, personalization on mobile meant ringtones and wallpapers. But the growing capabilities of handsets and networks have opened up a new world of possibilities for content and service personalization, from mobile video to music to advertising and location-based services. Key to unlocking these possibilities is cooperation from operators, said panelists on the “Breakthroughs in Personalized Mobile: The Video, Music, Gaming and Communications Experience – Search, Widgets, Virtual Worlds, Messaging and Advertising” panel at the CES Mobile Entertainment conference Sunday.
“The privacy discussion is on a different level on mobile, it brings the operator into the debate,” said Mitch Oliver, Qualcomm (NSDQ: QCOM) Internet Services’ VP of solutions and marketing. “On the web, I have a privacy statement with Facebook, I have a privacy statement with Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN). Is my privacy statement [on mobile] with my operator or with a service?” He said mobile operators are well-positioned to aggregate useful targeting information across a wide range of services, but can also serve as a privacy watchguard for users.
Trust is crucial: “How can we earn users’ trust?” asked Mark Lewis, the strategic planning director at DDB San Francisco. “We’re going to have to prove ourselves as an industry.” go2 CEO and founder Lee Hancock implied that may not be that difficult, as long as content providers offer useful and valuable content in exchange for personal information. For instance, he said go2 has served millions of location-targeted ads, but that they have “such high value” for users, it’s not gotten a single privacy-related complaint stemming from them.
Personalization will drive better mobile advertising. Pandora’s VP of business development, Jessica Steel, said that the company gets double-digit CPMs for the ads it sells around its personalized music content, while go2′s Hancock said it gets $20 CPM on mobile for targeted ads — making it clear that personalization allows content providers to sell more valuable targeted ads. In spite of this, Qualcomm’s Oliver said “impression-based advertising won’t be sustained in mobile,” because there won’t be sufficient volume, but that richer ad formats, offering more interactivity will deliver results.
The mobile’s the ultimate personal device. “The mobile is a uniquely personal device,” said MobiTV president and cofounder Paul Scanlan, because it doesn’t get shared among many people. But, he said, it also offers a level of subscriber authentication and demographic and behavioral information that something like a TV set-top box, or even a PC, can’t.
Think feline. “People go nuts for cats” in online services, said DDB’s Lewis.