The geography of power – how communication has become a global currency and what it means for mobile advertising2008-04-202017-04-05https://cdn.londoncalling.co/wp-content/uploads/logo220x100.pngLondon Callinghttps://cdn.londoncalling.co/wp-content/uploads/logo220x100.png200px200px
I found a fascinating article in a recent edition of Newsweek called Emotional Connections. The article describes an installation at the New York Museum of Modern Art called New York Talk Exchange. Here, MIT have been provided with real time phone records from AT&T and they have a live map of the different connections happening between different cities of the world – detailing the level of traffic, and the destination to and from New York City – powerful stuff. As Sutherland explains, “…on one map, regions expand as the number of phone connections with New York increases. This reveals a global pecking order of sorts…”
While I have not seen it in person, I can imagine how mesmerising the display is if the pictures I have seen are anything to go by. There is also a Youtube video embedded below to give you an idea of the exhibition. In the Newsweek article, the Author, Benjamin Sutherland looks at the exhibition and examines how the US, and in particular, New York sees itself in the global communications equation. In essence, the display shows us the geography of power, using communication connections as currency.
Similar data from British Telecom was also analysed by the MIT team (but does not appear in the exhibition), to see if London had a greater degree of connections with similar destinations (the London vs New York debate will continue forever..) The article quotes Saskia Sassen, a globalization sociologist from Colombia University as comparing the mapping of the phone calls as a “geography of power”, and says that the tally of calls is also a good approximate measure of globalisation.
The MIT experiment and approach has a direct comparison with the opportunity for mobile advertising. While the New York exhibition maps telephone calls between cities, it shows the power of aggregated information. As an industry, if we develop an effective and efficient way to gather user behaviour, and process it, then we can deliver the best possible experience to end users. A few years ago, the same MIT team also looked at mobile phone records for subscribers in Rome to develop a pattern of when and where people were using their phones. In an often quoted example from the study, phone records of users in Rome during a Madonna concert on August 6th 2006 show how many people were at the concert (and using their phone).
User data, segmented by characteristics such as calling patterns (where we call and how often we call), direct (permission based) user profiling, and cellular location are three inputs that will help drive user acceptance of mobile advertising. For those of you reading this that are directly involved in mobile advertising, for a moment think like a consumer who has no idea of how (or why) they can receive targeted advertising on their mobile.
If we use already available information (such as the items listed above), and also apply some real intelligence about how the subscriber uses their phone (eg which sites do they visit often, what locations do they frequent etc), then we can deliver highly relevant and targeted ads.
This means that as a consumer, when I use my mobile to search, or even browse, then experience I receive is (magically) targeted just for me! Imagine the delight when I receive only 1 page of mobile search results that are exactly what I am looking for! I might even use the service again and again – because it works the way I want it to. Compare this with a great customer service experience you have enjoyed – perhaps that extra level of detail or attention you received on your last hotel stay.
You remember the experience (probably tell others who will also be amazed) and may even go back again, to hopefully be treated the same way again. People have been talking about one-to-one marketing since I did my MBA, and we’re still a long way off. Initiatives such as the one announced by the GSMA at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 2008 are an excellent start. As we have seen from the 2 MIT experiments conducted above, aggregated data on calling patterns and locations are an incredibly powerful tool for mobile advertisers.
As I mentioned in my December 2007 post, I believe that there are 4 key areas of focus to make mobile advertising a success.
1. Flat rate data plans for all (the UK and other markets have made a good start here)
2. Common framework for mobile page rendering and addressing (since I wrote this in December, I think m. is winning over .mobi, but we have a long way to go on page rendering)
3. Mobile location without GPS, but instead using zone detection (happening slowly – but read my guest post on msearchgroove to see how this is evolving)
4. Customer profiling (without this we’ll never reach the full potential of mobile advertising, and risk just flooding subscribers with the equivalent of junk mail)
In summary, the geography of power actually rests with the individual. Our ability as an industry to carefully and sensibly collate this usage, randomize it as well as apply it with permission-based profiling to produce a mobile advertising experience that is both pleasant and useful for the end user, and delights the brands and agencies because it just works is the real end game.
Based in London, Practical Futurist and former Global Managing Partner at IBM, Andrew Grill is a popular and sought-after presenter and commentator on issues around digital disruption, workplace of the future and new technologies such as blockchain. Andrew is a multiple TEDx and International Keynote Speaker.