Wireless Wonders

No news, just comment about mobile phones and services, from a veteran practitioner...3G, GPRS, WAP, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc...

Sunday, January 23, 2005

John Battelle's Searchblog: Sell Side Advertising: A New Model?

John Battelle's Searchblog: Sell Side Advertising: A New Model?

The above article by John Battelle might have relevance to the future of mobile. The essence of sell-side advertising is that advertisers put up their ads into cyberspace and someone - anyone - can take it and display it on their site. If they get some clicks, then the advertiser pays them. The idea means that advertisers don't chose where they advertise, they let "the net" do it for them, which means a community of site publishers (e.g. bloggers) who fancy that they can get some clicks.

Why is this relevant to mobile?

Tomi Ahonen, the mobile marketing guru argues that mobile networks need to embrace market segmentation much more than they do today. He argues in an interview on The Feature that today's mobile market is woefully under-segmented. It's the equivalent of a car showroom only having 10 cars (inc. the options) - such as a blue saloon, a red hatch, a white estate etc. Laughable for a car showroom!

Mobile operators have huge amounts of information about their customers. Everything you do on the mobile phone is tracked. It has to be for billling purposes. Mining this information should reveal segments in the userbase. This could be exploited for selling services.

However, as Tomi claims, this mining process is very difficult, so it requires special techniques. One method, which Tomi has a particular fondness for, is artificial intelligence in the form of neural networks, in particular something called Self-Organising Maps (SOMs).

That might work and we need Tomi to shed more light on this topic.

Thinking about sell-side advertising, my response is why use AI when you could use RI, or real intelligence - i.e. real people. Let the users of the service create their own segments. This feels like it ought to be possible if users were given the means to promote services to each other and are then rewarded for it. The good news is that were this possible, then there's already a system in place in the mobile world to allow micro-transactions (i.e. referrals) to be billed.

Clearly, this needs more thought, but I can't help feeling there's some interesting possibilities here.


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