Since launching your mobile affiliate network in the UK around 3 months ago, what would you say have been the biggest advances in terms of adoption to mobile among affiliates, and also adoption in terms of wider publisher mobile development?
"The mobile landscape is changing on an almost weekly basis. It’s hard even for us to keep up. The need for clients to have a mobile optimised site is now generally accepted by marketers (which is a change from very recently) and we’re therefore seeing a big increase in the amount of blue-chip brands entering the space.
"We’re definitely past the early adopter stage and so now the question from clients is “How can I drive sales via my mobile site?” rather than “Why do I need a mobile site in the first place?” New clients can still be wary of the channel and so we’re seeing a lot of first time advertisers to mobile using us and then expanding out with wider CPC and CPM campaigns. The rise of smartphones (particularly Android) is driving consumer take-up of the mobile web and as such many publishers large and small are also trying to monetise this explosion in traffic. We’re lucky in that we solve a problem for both parties."
Are enough brands ready to handle m-commerce through their websites? If not, why do you think this is the case?
"Not all brands are ready for a full m-commerce solution. Payment mechanisms and the required integration is quite a big job for a client to take on; so, many are starting with more simple landing pages, enabling lead generation etc.
"Once this has been proved successful they then have a business case to launch a full m-commerce site. There are exceptions to this however with brands such as Marks and Spencer, Dominos, Tesco and Debenhams all leading the way. It’s only a matter of time (under 12 months) I believe before all mainstream retailers will have a full m-commerce site."
What can the launch of QR Codes and SMS within the mobile affiliate market enable affiliates to do offline?
"The smart thing about QR and SMS is that it takes affiliate marketing out of the digital space. Our tracking will monitor actions from QR and SMS in the same way as a banner click. A QR code can exist anywhere and on anything meaning publishers can come from traditional media for example.
"Also, SMS gives those publishers with clean opted-in mobile numbers a chance to monetise that inventory. We are careful however with how we run SMS campaigns – it’s potentially a very intrusive form of media and so we work with affiliates and publishers to make sure it’s handled correctly and sensitively."
Do you expect to see more affiliates attempting offline conversions or offline media owners looking to utilise affiliate marketing? Why?
"Yes – we’re in talks with a number of offline media owners. The fact is that now, all media has to embrace digital, the press industry for example has been hit hard by the rise of the web. New technologies such as this, allows them to experiment and generate revenues they previously may not have had. It will take time but i think mobile provides the bridge between themselves and digital they’ve been looking for."
With mobile huge in certain areas of the World, who do you think is making the biggest gains with mobile activity, is it all about Silicon Valley or is the UK, namely Silicon Roundabout(!) innovating more productively?
"Clearly Silicon Valley is a hotbed of digital innovation: engineering talent and crucially VC money flock there to find the next Facebook or Google. It’s this combination of cash and brains that make the area so productive. I strongly believe UK engineers are more than equal to their Californian counterparts however – the ‘Silicon Fen’ in Cambridge has produced some brilliant companies.
"Our own mobile engineers have two PHDs and three MAs from Oxford behind them and many UK mobile companies have similar engineering talent. I think the ‘Silicon Roundabout’ as a concept is a good step to hothouse talent but it will go nowhere without the backing of experienced VCs.
"It’s also a terrible name so I would rebrand the area immediately!"
We're expecting, and in some cases already seeing, mobile vouchers creating the biggest noise among new mobile affiliates. What other Affiliate sectors can get involved in mobile affiliate marketing do you think? Any examples?
"I think vouchering will be a massive area for mobile full-stop. The issue for in-store mobile vouchering has always been the redemption mechanic – how is it redeemed, tracked and monitored? This is now being fixed by major retailers such as Tesco who can now scan mobiles to update Club Cards. Subway also have the technology to scan mobile phones in-store right now. Once this becomes more mainstream the concept of affiliate networks driving customers in-store and being rewarded for it becomes a reality. That’s good for the mobile industry and good for the next stage in affiliate marketing."