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In Mobile, Success Comes From Something Simple

  |  June 12, 2008   |  Comments

A mobile gaming company takes advantage of the cell phone's most basic and simplest features.

Sometimes the simplest things have the most promise.

Recently, I used uninterrupted flight time to catch up on reading and spent a solid 35 minutes with the most recent issue of "Wired." My obsession for the publication is well-known among my friends, and I have no problem publicly stating that sometimes the magazine is too smart for me. So when I tell you I glimpsed a one pager on a company I had spoken to just a few weeks earlier, you'll understand my delight at knowing exactly what the article was going to be about before I even read it.

Although my prediction date of June 9 for the iPhone 3G's release was off by a month, the "Wired" article might be onto something else entirely. That the article was juxtaposed with the magazine's monthly "Jargon Watch" section carries a really powerful message.

MegaPhone, a mobile gaming company, aims to bring usability for the masses back to the basics. The brilliance behind the company comes from the use of mobile phones' main function: voice. Spoken commands are used to operate game play between multiple opponents, each controlling his or her own avatar in games that are most often projected onto a big screen (think at an event, on a mobile billboard, or on LCD after LCD in Times Square). The numeric keypad can also be used, depending on game functionality.

I had had the chance to demo games that utilized both basic functionalities, and I can't reiterate the brilliance in their simplicity. The games a few colleagues and I had the opportunity to experience brought on a strong feeling of nostalgia and a fierce sense of competition. In between tying to blast away my friend David, I started to think about how a marketer might take advantage of the technology. That brought me back to something I've been struggling with for a while now.

In reading about the company through the "Wired" lens, the marketing side of my brain kicked in and reinforced the idea that some of the greatest successes can come from the simplest things. This rational thought is sometimes overshadowed by news headlines about the promise of the latest and greatest mobile functionality.

While I've stopped counting the number of times I've been asked (by clients and agency folks alike) to pontificate about a mobile technology that's just too early for real consideration, I haven't stopped preaching about the best uses of the mobile platform integrated into a larger communication strategy.

MegaPhone is a prime example of what I pray clients and agency contacts will gravitate toward when strategically considering mobile. The game play takes advantage of the most basic and simplistic functionality the cell phone has to offer, while opening the eyes of those who experience it to the entertainment motivation that partially fuels device choice today. It takes mobile one step further.

There's a big difference between mobile advertising and mobile marketing services. The latter is custom-made, not buyable off the shelf. The beauty behind a company like MegaPhone is in the custom creation of an experience that can come from strategically integrating its technology with a brand or event. By implementing a marketing effort that takes full advantage of the most ubiquitous mobile feature, by default you engage consumers while building a strong brand affiliation. You do this by providing something so many consumers seek: a few moments of pure entertainment during the daily grind.


Courtney Acuff

With more than 237 million cell phone users in the U.S. alone, Courtney Jane Acuff’s charge within Denuo as director is to deliver consumer insights and innovative media solutions in the wireless space. Prior to this, Acuff stood at the helm of one of mobile marketing’s most influential media agencies, SMG Digits, where she harnessed mobile communications' power, influence, and potential. At Digits, she researched, designed, and executed the first-ever domestic, consumer-centric wireless market analysis, providing insights into the medium’s potential for relevant consumer engagement. It was the first effort by an agency to understand consumers' burgeoning use of mobile applications, the content they access, and how they want the technology to be a part of their lives.

Acuff currently consults for clients such as Walt Disney World, Walgreens, Sprint, and Philip Morris, framing the mobile marketplace and guiding marketing initiatives. She maintains strong relationships with mobile back-end providers and is a founding member of the Mobile Marketing Association. Her influence in the industry earned her coveted recognition as a “Twentysomething to Watch” in 2004 by "Advertising Age." Acuff holds B.A.s in political science and communications, both from Lake Forest College in Illinois.

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