Mobile advertising and Mobile social networking: round table notes


I was invited to a round table discussion organized by Mark Curtis of flirtomatic – UK’s largest mobile social network. Mark is one of my authors i.e. futuretext is Mark’s publisher (Distraction) .. So I am always happy to attend an event organized by flirtomatic

The invitees for this event included senior people from MySpace, Vodafone, Facebook,Mobile data association among others – the topic being broadly Mobile Advertising on mobile social networks

This is the second such event I attended on Mobile Advertising – which is reflective of the significance I am attaching to this space.

Here are the key takeways for me:

a) Mark raised a point that social networking is becoming a Meta layer above both Web and Mobile. I think this is very interesting and I agree with it i.e. Mobile devices are primarily for communication and the social network facilitates that communication – in simplest terms – ‘connecting people’. Everything else is a means to that end. Thus the social network should seamlessly span the Web and the Mobile Web and could be the main point of interaction with the customer – and also for advertisers!

b) On holiday, Mark’s teenage daughters received a rumour that ‘facebook profiles were corrupted due to some virus’. This was very distressing for them – perhaps more distressing than losing their phone(emphasis mine)

c) MySpace – said that it was a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ social networks on mobile devices would be free(i.e. ad funded). That’s very interesting – coming from MySpace. I agree with this view as well.

d) Mobile devices offer a call to action especially if integrated with voice. This feature is not as exploited as it could be

e) There are two broad models of social networking – the free(Web) – MySpace, Facebook etc and the paid for (yospace,seemetv etc). The operators favour the paid for model – which in many cases is not ad funded.

In my view, the social aspects of the paid for model are limited because all potential friends will not be members of the telecoms network – thus limiting the people I can share my content with. We did not have enough time to discuss this – so any views welcome

f) Mark: As media changes, and a new media type appears old media formats will not work. (example Google)

g) A lot of information can be derived even from basic information – for example – Postpay = higher credit rating.

h) Most interestingly .. Social networking on mobile sites can take off when other forms of access are limited .. For instance when your employer blocks access to facebook etc. The same usage pattern is seen on mobile recruitment sites .. People will want to browse the recruitment sites on their phone because they don’t want their employers to know that they are looking at recruitment sites.

Thanks Mark and Charley Hayes of Immediate future for organizing this panel


  1. Jenny says:

    I know that mobile coupons in terms of mobile advertising didnt have much of an effect in the past. im sure many companies can find the means of advertising, but ppl will soon get tired of it as they do for telemarketers.

  2. Ajit Jaokar says:

    thanks Jenny. In some ways, mobile advetisers have themselves to blame for this state of affairs. However, the public also seems to be focussed on SMS advertising – which to my view is very limited and intrusive by nature. So, it may well be a case of chaning perception kind rgds Ajit

  3. Felix Kiptum says:

    I think mobile social networking will for many people (especially in Africa) represent their first contact with the internet. The focus should go not towards making money from mobile applications than to designing useful services for the mobile phone.
    The way I see it, the net-accessible phone provides two things:
    1. An audience
    2. A market
    The challenge is to transfer day to day services to the phone.
    Just my two cents ;)