A Cell Phone, Beads, a Knife and a Spear

Despite all of the news today in the industry, I'm writing a blog for the weekend. This is my summer vacation turned market research thanks to Timothy Kontire Maloi at the Ilkeliani Tented Camp and his friend Ole Tome. If you are ever in East Africa, you should look them up. They live near the main gate of the Masai Mara in western Kenya. Timothy manages the camp, and Ole is building his own nearby. They are amazing hosts.

I took an unlocked GSM phone with me on vacation. I planned to use it in Europe on my way home from Africa. In Africa, I planned to use the integrated MP3 player during long road trips across the country on our quest to find lions and leopards. When there is limited access to electricity, one truly appreciates having a single, integrated device with one charger. There was only one electrical outlet
available to guests at the Ilkeliani Camp. We all had to share.

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Interactive Marketing Spending Maturing, But Not Slowing Down

I’ve gotten a number of press calls since Yahoo announced it has missed its earnings on October 5 asking if I think this indicates a larger slow down of interactive marketing spending overall.  My response to these qualms “No way, Jose.”  Here is what I think is happening:

*Interactive marketing spending is definitely different today than it was in the boom times of Bubble One (circa 1999-2000).  But this is a good thing.  Today, more traditional marketers are including online advertising, email and search marketing in their marketing mix.  This provides stability and legitimacy to interactive media which it did not have when it was supported solely by dot coms.

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Xero Mobile ... Worth of a Wireless Carrier without Customers?

RCR reported on the sale of Xero Mobile today. Apparently, they are selling mobile marketing technology ideas/patents. The article didn't have much (not their fault - seems as though the company reported little) - just mentioned that they can see if a subscriber views an ad and can automatically bill advertisers.

It raises an interesting question of the value of technology without customers. The advertising would likely show up when the phone is powered on, when numbers are dialed, calls received, mobile content browsed, etc. However, there is no network or inventory without customers which typically are acquired at a high price. (I don't even want to go down the road of what ESPN must have paid per sub). If a base is built, is it a base willing to spend money on other products - just not cell phone service? If you're an advertiser, why wouldn't you purchase on a carrier's network where you can slice/dice an audience of 50 million subscribers - unless it's too expensive or not enough inventory (same problem). Will a carrier sell air minutes to a competitor who will increase the amount of available inventory?

Our consumer surveys show some interest in ad-sponsored models, but only those executed with extreme care. Will be interesting to watch.