The title of the final session at the MEX conference – ‘Mission or exploration?’ – is, admittedly, somewhat cryptic. It seeks to describe an important difference between the approch of a mobile user and users of other mediums such as desktop PCs and interactive television.

In the mobile environment, a user’s actions are characterised by ‘missions’, in which the customer interacts with their device on numerous occasions during the day, but only for small periods and almost always with a specific goal in mind. When immersed in the desktop or channel surfing on TV, customers are in a very different frame of mind, exploring the medium for lengthy periods and open to the possibility of distraction.

This crucial difference will shape the user experience of mobile advertising. While many forms of advertising seek to draw the customer off on a tangent, mobile advertising will need to assist in the completion of whatever ‘mission’ the user happens to be engaged in.

These missions will typically be defined by a context of location, time and task. To engage the customer effectively, advertisers will need to understand this context and respond in a much more dynamic way than they do even with interactive mediums such as the PC. Results delivered on the basis of a single search string – as per traditional internet advertising such as Google AdWords, will not be sufficient. Indeed, any advertising which is seen as interupting the user’s mission will generate negative sentiment towards the advertiser’s brand.

This is a market in its infancy. There is no defined model and there is the possibility for several to exist side-by-side: advertising inserted into mobile games, for instance, has the potential to provide a work-around for some of the ‘mission’ constraints mentioned above. Advertisements served through a synchronous browsing experience may compliment asynchronous, opt-in message delivery from trusted partners. There may be cross-over with existing advertising systems run by the likes of Google and Yahoo, or it may be driven by new agencies working in conjunction with operators.

At MEX, we’re bringing together some of the finest minds in the business to lead the debate on this important topic. The session runs from 14:30 – 16:00 on 1st June and you can register to attend on-line at

The session will be chaired by Will Harris, CEO of The Bank, and formerly Head of Marketing for O2. Will master-minded the successful re-branding of O2 from BT Cellnet and played a key role in the original Orange brand launch. He returns to MEX after chairing a lively and controversial debate on ‘Understanding the customer’ last year.

Speakers include:

Sarah McVittie, CEO of Re5ult, the company behind the 82ASK text message service. 82ASK has grown strongly since the company was founded by Sarah and Thomas Roberts. The company ansers any question by text message for a flat fee of GBP 1.00 and has won acclaim for its focus on user experience. 82ASK is uniquely positioned to understand the context of users from the questions they ask and is considering a variety of advertising models which take advantage of this information.

Mark Slade, Managing Director, of mobile advertising agency 4thscreen. Slade founded 4thscreen after a career in traditional and new media advertising, including his role as Head of Digital Marketing at M&C Saatchi. 4thscreen is one of the first agencies to work directly with network operators to utilise the advertising space on their portals. Explaining why he is participating at MEX, Slade said: “Core to all mobile advertising, above any other medium, is the customer experience. Engagement rather than interuption from a user experience perspective will drive sustainted growth in this market.”

John Doyle is Product Marketing Director at ChangingWorlds, which provides a platform for optimising the mobile internet content displayed to users based on their prior behaviour. It is employed by leading network operators to dynamically position services which are most likely to attract their attention and generate revenue.

Dean Bubley, Analyst, Disruptive Analysis. One of the industry’s most widely quoted and respected analysts, Dean brings a user-focused perspective to all of his research work, asking questions which cut through the hype.

For further reading on this subject, see the original MEX article ‘Advertising – mission or exploration?‘. Please also join us for the debate at the MEX conference by registering at

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