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Mobile Opportunities & Challenges: PSFK Talks To BBH’s Richard Schatzberger

Richard Schatzberger, Director of Creative Technology at BBH provides an insightful perspective into what emerging opportunities brands should keep an...

Paloma M. Vazquez
Paloma M. Vazquez on March 26, 2010. @pmvazquez

PSFK recently talked with Richard Schatzberger, Director of Creative Technology at BBH. Between his current role at BBH and his background as a Principle Experience Strategist on Motorola’s Mobile Devices team, we believed Richard would provide an insightful perspective into what emerging opportunities brands should keep an eye out for in the current mobile landscape. What resulted from our conversation were several thought starters for brands to evaluate within their mobile customer contact and engagement strategy.

On opportunities for brands to have a deeper connection with consumers across all mobile platforms:

“The phone/address book itself is a communications hub that includes more than just the people you might call or email. Bringing brands into the natural communications environment will help to bring together what is now a very segregated world for both consumers and brands. If I love a brand and want to be connected with them where ever they exist, I want all the connection points in one place. Lets help people see everything we are doing rather than making them have to launch 5 different apps and find us on each one. This is a great opportunity for carriers, manufacturer, startups and brands to all collaborate on a platform which enables communication no matter who or what you want to communicate with.”

Axe is an example of a brand that may have recognized this opportunity. By using JenniewithAxe as the face of its social media communications on Facebook and Twitter, Axe has personalized its brand by providing interested fans with content from the perspective of another human being – vs. a scripted page with little sense of who is behind the Twitter handle or Facebook fan page.  If you want Axe’s tips on increasing your odds with ladies, might as well hear it from one.

This humanization of the brand allows AXE to develop conversations – not just applications – which can happen in real time, rather than waiting for a new service to be designed and developed.

How is location affecting mobile experiences?

Your mobile phone data can identify whether you’re at home, at work, commuting, or traveling in a different state – particularly if you’re checking in with a location-based service like Foursquare. Brands can add value to an individual’s daily experience – and stay top-of-mind and provoke trial – by adapting its communications to the user’s context/situation.

Richard explains:

“The ESPN application should know that you are sitting at the Cubs game and give you a specific experience tailored to that moment in your life. If I launch the Netflix application at home and it hears the movie playing in the background, it can then provide me all the movie trivia for that movie. It’s right there that brands can collaborate with the content happening in the movie without getting in the way of the core viewing experience.”

While this certainly raises privacy and annoyance concerns – do individuals want brands knowing what they’re doing all the time, and having the ability to reach them with messaging? Schatzberger believes the balance – and flexibility – lies in recognizing that most people consider interactions on their mobile phones to be more personal than they might at their computers,

“There’s something to be said about the common, human perception that this is YOUR mobile internet and YOUR self-selected mobile apps – vs. the perceived greater scale of “the internet”.

Secondly, as with any form of communication – it also requires that a brand provide individuals with a valuable offering to make their lives easier or more interesting – and not just a forced promotional message.

What are the new opportunities you see for applications on the iPad?

iPad vs. iPhone (or other lightweight laptops): Schatzberger sees the iPad’s larger screen, inherently larger and more controlled keyboard as an opportunity for “mini-apps” – or “apps-within-an-app” – that will ultimately benefit users with a more centralized, one-stop shop experience beyond the currently specialized, narrower focus of today’s iPhone apps – which were designed appropriately for a screen of its size.

The iPad may offer an opportunity for apps to address multiple needs within the same experience/interface. For example, a cross-branded app where you can progress from booking your British Airways flight to London, to redeeming your Starwood points for a weekend at the Park Lane Hotel, followed by a Zagat recommendation to a hot resaurant and subsequent reservation.

This may present a dual-edged opportunity and challenge for complementary brands and startups to play better together, for developers to arrive at streamlined, simple interfaces that can easily reflect and process user-selected data from one screen to another – and for agencies and brands to focus on what is critical to the customer’s decision process only, in order to keep a customer engaged, the process smooth – and the app’s service valuable.

Thanks, Richard!

BBH

Thinking...