Mobilising Brand Value: Not as easy as it looks

Revamping existing content for the mobile is simple, surely? No, says Graham Baines. High quality content that works across all networks and handsets requires expertise and experience – without it  organisations will deliver poor content that rapidly undermines both brand value and the mobile opportunity.

The growing maturity of the mobile content market is offering brand and intellectual property owners a fantastic opportunity to increase both revenue and brand recognition through the mobilisation of existing content.
 
But the stakes are high – and those organisations failing to recognise the technical and creative challenges associated with getting the right mobile content to work across a diversity of networks and handsets could irreparably damage brand value.

If organisations are to avoid a repetition of the early, misguided web developments that, arguably, delayed the development of the online market, they need to
face up to the very real challenges associated with successful, timely and relevant delivery of mobile content.

Ready to go
While phenomenally successful, to date the mobile content market has been limited in range; ringtones, wallpapers and games comprise the vast proportion of mobile downloads. But with the arrival of ever more sophisticated handsets and viable interactive technology, the market is set for a dramatic change.

While the publishing companies are looking to gain revenue from the mobile market – providing existing online and paper based products via mobile subscription, many of the major brands are looking to attain closer customer interaction via the personalisation of mobile devices – from wallpapers to personalised bills – and looking at mobile commerce of products in the longer term.

Yet despite having carefully watched the evolution of the mobile market over the last few years, few companies appear to have any real understanding of the complexities of delivering good quality mobile content that works across the multiple networks and handsets or the potential brand damage caused by bad content.

Furthermore, this lack of understanding and sophistication is clearly demonstrated by the trend towards delivering mobile content in conjunction with one or two network operators. While appearing a low risk model, taking this approach delivers little benefit in either brand enhancement or revenue growth.

Reality check
Understanding the real market opportunity is essential if organisations are to cost effectively deliver the right, tailored content to reflect customer demands. And, despite the perception, it is not that easy. While marketing departments may perceive the delivery of mobile content to be nothing more than a few tiny images, some audio and a soupcon of compressed video – it is when they embark on the mobilisation of content that the reality bites, hard.

While the content may work on one or two trial handsets, without the right technology and expertise to support all networks and several hundred handset operating systems, the content will not work on all. The result will be at best an image that does not fit the handset screen; at worst the phone will hang during the attempt to download, becoming locked and completely unusable.

If organisations task in-house teams or traditional agencies to deliver mobile content, the results will be poorly executed, irrelevant and, ultimately, damaging. It will be akin to the early days of web content development all over again – only more dangerous since the mobile user community has a far higher level of sophistication and expectation than the Internet community had during the first foray into online content delivery.

Over the past five years a mobile content industry has evolved that has developed the interactive solutions required to ensure content works across networks and handsets; that has excellent billing solutions and has honed the creation of appropriate content that incorporates images, sound and video.  While organisations will undoubtedly create in house mobile expertise overtime – alongside the now established web content creators – this is no overnight exercise.

Take control
The delivery of good, relevant mobile content that offers an excellent consumer experience requires more than a little creative know-how. From billing and customer service to the technology to ensure content is dynamically resized to support every handset, mobile content companies should offer the expertise and experience to maximise the mobile opportunity.

The intimacy of the phone is both powerful and dangerous for a brand owner. Getting the content provision wrong will result a in very personal, very bad user experience; get it right and the opportunities for building a strong, direct customer relationship are significant and will underpin the further extension of both brand value and mobile commerce as the market develops. N

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