Communicate held a round table, called Mobile Talks, on the topic of mobile on September 16 in Dubai. Moderated by Ayman Haydar, managing director of Mediaquest, Communicate’s parent company, the round table was a half-day event bringing agencies, clients and mobile vendors together under one roof to discuss the evolution and revolution of mobile in the region. “Communicate is about keeping up-to-date with regional advertising industry trends. So, it made perfect sense for it to initiate Mobile Talks,” says Haydar.
What is Mobile Talks?
The growing penetration of mobile devices and smartphones in the Middle East region, coupled with the evolution of technology and data accessibility, has resulted in the mobile becoming the most personal device yet. Naturally, brands need to be where the consumers are and, although agencies, clients and mobile vendors seem to agree with this sentiment, mobile ad budgets prove otherwise. With this in mind, Mobile Talks was conceived with the aim of bringing together agencies, clients and mobile vendors for an honest, informal discussion and, if need be, debate. “Mobile is the fastest growing sphere in digital. However, we know that there are some obstacles in the region. We wanted to bring everyone together under a neutral platform to discuss this,” Haydar explains.
How is Mobile Talks different?
In order to encourage an open discussion, Communicate decided to not have any one person as the speaker; instead, everyone would get a chance to share his or her opinion. Therefore, the tagline of Mobile Talks came to be: “Where every opinion matters”. This concept of providing a voice to every guest was brought to life through a unique format. Agencies, clients and mobile vendors were each given their own table with a Mediaquest journalist present as a facilitator. The event started with an introduction by Haydar, who then presented a topic to the audience. Each table was given 30 minutes to brainstorm and nominate someone from the group to represent it. The representative was then given 15 minutes to prepare his/her case. Haydar then threw the floor open to the representatives to discuss and debate certain points, while the other participants were free to comment and ask questions.
What was discussed?
In its first edition, the round table discussed two key topics: “Is Your Communications Strategy Truly 360°?” and “Viewability of Mobile Video”.
In a 360° world, a 360° strategy is often seen as the ultimate aim of every marketer. However, consumers’ attention isn’t divided equally across all media. It’s focused on some channels, platforms and devices more than others and brands need to follow suit. The first session aimed to find out the definition of a 360° strategy and then dissect it. Surprisingly, all three tables unanimously agreed that a 360° strategy across digital, mobile, TV, print and outdoor is not the best idea. Brands should focus on their objectives, identify their target audience and then decide the best channels. Naturally, the topic of TV versus digital/mobile came up. Is TV cutting into mobile’s budget? Clients and agencies didn’t think so, but mobile vendors believed it to be the case and thought that, by not vigorously tapping into mobile, clients could miss a great chance to reach out to their audience. One of the reasons that this was not seen as a huge concern was that, in the MENA region, TV continues to be popular and almost commands the budget it receives. Moreover, compared with just a few years ago, clients’ digital and mobile budgets have increased significantly.
The second topic of the day cut straight to the chase. While most of those present were aware of the Media Rating Council’s (MRC) viewability standards guide, there was a certain ambiguity about viewability on mobile. Currently, the MRC guide applies desktop standards to mobile: that is, 50 percent of pixels must be in view for a minimum of one second and, in case of video, for two seconds. Agencies and mobile vendors felt that this was a good enough time to measure the viewability of an ad, but clients seemed to disagree, because someone could just blink and miss the ad or click on it by accident. Additionally, certain ad formats, especially on mobile and within the app, such as native ads, are currently not measurable. This means that, whenever the MRC does release a standards guide, it will have to take into account the different types of mobile ads, including the sizes and loading times of these formats. Moreover, the mobile standard would differ between publishers, especially giants such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. In fact, YouTube has even announced plans to release its own viewability guide. Although the agencies said that they would wait for a global body like the MRC to standardize the viewability metrics, clients felt that there was a need for a regional discussion between all three players for an optimal ROI.
“We really wanted to bring together all partners involved in an informal atmosphere, where everyone felt comfortable to discuss their concerns,” says Haydar. At the end of the day, the aim of the round table was to initiate a conversation rather than result in a conclusion. It’s safe to say that this objective has been achieved. Since mobile is progressing at a rapid rate and to keep the conversation going, Mobile Talks will take place on a quarterly basis, with smaller initiatives also being planned.