Opinion Articles

Monday, November 19, 2012

Consumer privacy, opt-in marketing and the future of mobile

We talk to Henry Lawson of nFluence media

Mark Bridge writes:

Today’s consumers receive a seemingly never-ending stream of online information from their social networks, from websites, in their email and on their mobile devices. But is there a way to let individuals stay in control whilst also helping companies advertise their products?  According to nFluence Media, there definitely is.

To find out more, I spoke to Henry Lawson, co-founder and CEO of nFluence, and started by asking him to explain exactly what nFluence did.

“nFluence has cracked the code on how to get consumers to create ‘personas’, profiles of themselves, essentially an ‘interest graph’ of themselves that enables them to attract the kind of content, the kind of advertising, the kind of offers they are really interested in. And we've done it by 'gamifying' personalisation. We've cracked the code on how to turn the chore which personalisation mostly is, into something that's actually fun and interesting for consumers. We've now got tens of thousands of consumers participating in creating those very personal interest graphs.”

This sounds very much as though it could apply to any aspect of online communication, so I asked Henry why nFluence often described itself as a mobile company.

“I spent fourteen years in the Ad Tech industry”, he explained, “running the largest processor of media billings at media agencies [Donovan Data Systems] and saw digital marketing move from basically zero, up to about 25% of the media mix in the UK now. I've also watched mobile take off in this country. One of the things when we started nFluence was a very strong view that the mobile device has become the ‘remote control’ to peoples' lives. People keep their calendars on it, people keep their email on it, people keep all of their lives on it. And that device has a number of very interesting characteristics because it is the centrepiece of their lives.”

“First of all, it goes everywhere with them. That means it accompanies them into that bricks-and-mortar environment which has been suffering so badly compared to e-commerce. We believe very much that the mobile device can give a renaissance of bricks-and-mortar commerce by enabling bricks-and-mortar commerce to have the same kind of advantages and understanding of the customer as e-commerce does.”

“Secondly, this is a personal device so it's very logical to develop your own ‘interest graph’ on. Typically people's phones are not shared with other people, whereas your set-top box in front of your TV at home is. Even your iPad and your PC or your Mac will be shared with other people, typically. And we believe very strongly that the mobile device is going to become more and more important in people's lives. It's more and more going to be the way in which people control their lives. We think the preferences they have and the things they're interested in should be reflected through that mobile phone. That was why we went to a mobile strategy and everything about nFluence is driven by that personal device.”

“The other thing is, as it happens, our UX works beautifully on a smartphone because a smartphone is a fantastic place to do what we call 'Swoting'; it's our trademark term, which is basically a conglomeration of 'swiping' and 'voting'. It's about moving your finger half-an-inch on the screen and voting about what you're really looking for. One of the secrets to what we do is the user experience on a smartphone works so much better than clicking and pointing with the mouse. The mobile phone is core to people's lives and it's core to nFluence.”

This is an edited transcript of our podcast interview with Henry Lawson. Click below to read more or listen to the full interview via the built-in audio player on our website.

Author: The Fonecast
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