Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Are women invisible?

And if so, what can we, the mobile industry, do about it?

I've recently written about the lack of female speakers at Informa's upcoming Mobile Web conference. I've also been alerted that the Mobile Marketing Association's forthcoming conference in Budapest (also run by Informa) lacks female visibility. And then I discovered that the Mobile Web Megatrends conference is also suffering the same problem.

Why so few women speakers, panellists or moderators?

And don't tell me this is representative of the industry because I know it isn't - we have good female representation at Mobile Mondays, more women come to Swedish Beers now (and growing) and the women in the Women in Mobile Data Association are plentiful! I even hear along the grapevine that the MMA has a strong female contingent.

And yes, this is a particular bugbear of mine. But with good reason. So bear with me.

I'm fed up to the back teeth of conference organisers and their sponsors ignoring women in the mobile industry (Informa being a recent obvious culprit, but they are certainly not alone) and coming up with lame excuses as to why women aren't involved. And many of these events are actually organised by women which makes it even worse. Do women still defer to men? Do women need a license to speak up?

I'm not a bra-burning feminist by any stretch of the imagination. But come on, this is the 21st Century and we've had the vote a while now. Women make 80% of buying decisions, women are more prolific on the internet than men, women are driving social networking - why aren't they (we) visible at potentially game-changing events where real decisions are made about all our digital futures, when potentially, it will probably impact most on women's day to day lives than men's.

I don't expect to get to 50/50 but to get to 25% visibility would be a start and not unreasonable I'd have thought. Or am I deluded here?

And don't give me the comment 'well if it's a choice between a man and a woman speaker and the man's the better qualified speaker then we choose the man' because in *most* cases in my 8 year experience of attending mobile conferences and events, there are few 'brilliant' speakers on the circuit at all - male or female - so there isn't usually an issue of having to choose between them. And with different formats, different styles of speakers get a chance to shine and therefore it encourages diversity.

It still feels like women are pretty much invisible and that the mobile industry is still very much a boy's club. [And yes, I know it's not just the mobile industry - I can only tackle one sector at a time!]


1. Do we need to rethink event formats to make them more accessible to women? And if so, what are those formats?

2. How do we boost the confidence of female participants so that they say yes more times than they say no when asked to contribute as a speaker, panellist, moderator, whatever?

3. How do we encourage women to take networking and conferencing at this level seriously and make it a core part of their jobs rather than something they do once in a blue moon?

4. How do we encourage companies to put women forward as speakers as often as, or sometimes instead of the men in their companies?

5. How do women network differently (particularly married women) and how do we incorporate male and female styles of networking at events without resorting to separatism or golf days for the boys and spa days for the girls? (Much as I enjoy a spa, I don't really fancy networking with other women whilst in a dressing gown. Where would I put my business cards, phone and notebook anyway? And it does just confirm existing stereotypes and ridicules them. Why don't we just have a shoe-shopping expedition?!)

As a woman, you might think I qualify to answer these questions. Unfortunately, I don't suffer from a fear or reticence of speaking at events. I don't work for a big company so I don't have a glass ceiling to break through (I've experienced it in the past though), so I don't necessarily understand some of what's going on here and why these problems persist or what to do about them. In many cases, women themselves, are ensuring these problems persist so I'm not laying the blame solely on men here.  It's deeply culturally embedded so I know it's not a simple issue. Therefore, I'm particularly interested to hear others views and perceptions - and that's from men *and* women please!

I do believe this is a problem. And I do think we can change it for the better if we want to and hope that if I keep piping up about it, something positive will happen.

Some further links here too (and it's worth looking at the comments and links to other posts to get the full picture):

I also spotted this upcoming group 'Needs Women Speakers' who are naming and shaming conferences who need more female speakers, and there's an accompanying blog post.

And I've started the discussion on the Oxford Forum too in the hope we may make some progress and find a way forward from this.

And Jason Kottke has been talking about diversity at web industry conferences and some of them are suffering the same problem - although many have healthy female coverage, showing that it is possible.

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The usefulness of data collection

Every company seems to want your data these days - gender, date of birth, postcode, what you buy, what you like, who you hang with, how often you do all this. Yet what do they do with it?

Seemingly, very little.

Tell me, why did Sainsbury's think it was a good idea to send me a personalised email promoting nappies and baby goods?

sainsbury nappies

I've shopped at Sainsbury's, offline, for over 20 years. And online, I've shopped with them a handful of times in the last 2 or 3 years I reckon.

So tell me, why would I want to stock up on baby food, accessories, wipes or toiletries?

I have never bought nappies in my life - not even for my nieces when they were born.

I am single.

I have no children. [Well not if you don't count my involvement with my local brownie pack in Tooting Bec. And they're not babies anyway.]

My shopping habits haven't changed. I still don't buy meat or cigarettes. I still don't buy baked beans or marmite. And I still don't buy Johnson's baby lotion or Pamper's.

Have they made an assumption because I've bought baby wipes a few times that I have a baby - even though I've bought them for use at a festival and I've never bought any other baby products? It's a tenuous link at best and anyway, I usually buy my baby wipes at Superdrug or Somerfield.

Or are they being super-clever... and they've worked out that a couple of my facebook pals have had babies recently?? I somehow doubt they're following me to that degree, and they certainly shouldn't be if I haven't given them permission.

If it's not going to be useful or used, why bother collecting the data at all?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Disqus comments aren't working on new posts

It's a glitch with blogger it seems if you use Windows Live Writer to write your posts (which I'm doing right now, because it's way easier to use than anything solely web-based).

Comments are here though and will stay here, it's just they're using the old blogger system rather than (my preferred) Disqus system. I guess when they've found a work around, I'll be able to do something about it. It looks like I'm not the only with the problem having done a bit of a Google-around.

Rest assured, I *do* get round to reading all the comments (eventually), however they come in and I appreciate that you take the time to both read and comment on my blog. And I hope you continue to do so.

A useful guide to SMS launched today

After announcing my upcoming course on mobile marketing earlier today, Laura from ExactTarget's PR team over in the States wrote me a lovely email asking me for my opinion on her client's new guide to SMS. Admittedly, on reading that the company behind the publication was a tech services company I thought the guide might be a bit dry, as tech guides can often be, but I'm very pleased to say, I was totally wrong on that score. It's an fresh take on SMS marketing in an easy-to-read format.

Laura says: "ExactTarget’s Field Guide to SMS is an easy-to-read manual that conveniently breaks down the numerous uses of commercial SMS into three groups including: alerts, updates and marketing messages. Perfect for marketers who wonder what possibilities exist for using SMS within their own organizations, the Field Guide highlights 15 unique business scenarios ranging from account activity and fraud alerts to confirmations and appointment reminders."

I say: "The ExactTarget team have put a lot of thought into the different cases for using SMS in a business context ranging from account activity alerts to VIP access and everything in between. Keeping with the 'Field Guide' and Nature theme, they've defined characteristics of the different 'species' of SMS messages and broken them down in each case by describing the Wildlife Commentary (real life usage scenarios), Defining Characteristics (an explanation of how that particular type of SMS works, Species Contribution (the benefits of using it), Diet (what data you need to make it work) and Habitat (where you're likely to discover this type of SMS). It's intended as an idea-starter rather than a comprehensive guide, but if it's a starting point you want, then this is as good a start as any."

It's a free download (in return for some contact information) from the ExactTarget’s Field Guide to SMS .

One-day course in Mobile Marketing in London - 16 September 2008

For those of you who are interested, I'm running a one-day course on mobile marketing for the lovely folks at E-Consultancy on 16 September in London near Old Street. It'll be a small class and we'll cover all aspects of mobile marketing from SMS to mobile web with plenty of time for in-depth discussion, knowledge-sharing and case studies. And yes, we'll even talk about the iphone effect. At the time of writing, this is my last planned public course for 2008.

The course is suitable for marketers at all levels, all I ask you to bring with you is a smile, a good attitude and a willingness to take part. It is not a technology course so there'll be no programming although there might be a few gadgets to look at if I can borrow some in time for the day. Previous delegates have been more than pleasantly surprised at how much they enjoyed the day.

I'm currently updating the case study section of the course and I'm always interested to be updated with new, interesting, relevant case studies. So if you have something to share - with images and some indication of results (why it was a success or failure), then I'm very interested to hear about it. You can contact me via email. Also if you have relevant mobile gadgets or gizmos to lend me for the day, please do get in touch. I'm thinking specifically upcoming handsets, a Flip camera (to demonstrate UGC), NFC handset/demo or anything else you can think of.

Mobile Marketing - London Seminar | Training |

Monday, August 18, 2008

RL Magazine - Know the Code

I was just browsing the MyMart blog and spotted that Ralph Lauren has set up its own m-commerce site and is allowing customers to buy from it from a small selection of their ranges. You can reach the mobile site via QR code, texting in to a shortcode or going directly to the URL

There is a common misunderstanding by high end fashion companies that their customers somehow aren't digitally minded and wouldn't dream of using the internet. I've no idea where they get that from but it certainly isn't true - Net-A-Porter and Vertu are testament to that. So I'm very pleased to see that Ralph Lauren is getting in on the mobile act.

I think the QR code thing is a bit of a red herring at the moment. The readers aren't embedded on most phones and it's a bit of a hassle to get the reader, download it, remember where it is, open the reader application, open the shutter and then take the picture of the barcode when it would be easier to text in to a shortcode or go directly to the URL. [Of course, it's a different thing once we have the software pre-installed and deeply embedded so our phones *know* when it can see a QR code and automatically give us the option to use it or not.] I digress.

I'm not a Ralph Lauren shopper (well save for a lovely pair of RL shades I got at TK Maxx and a liking for the RL fragrance Romance) so am probably not the target audience. The thought of wearing crisp white pants and a blue, red and white polo shirt fills me with dread. But I know others feel differently about these things otherwise RL wouldn't be doing nearly so well.

Screenshot0011Anyway, I thought I'd take a closer look at the site to see what I liked (or not) about it.

First off we have the opening page. And it's just a list of banners rather than words or words and banners. And they're very difficult to read as the writing on them is tiny. If you're not familiar with RL, these may be a bit confusing anyway. There are written links further down but they don't relate to the banners and don't shed much more light.

Rather confusingly, the first Screenshot0012option is for the QR code information. Now it seems to me that if you have found your way to the RL mobile website already, the chances are you don't need to use a QR code to get to it. As you can see below, the introduction doesn't help much either as you have to do more clicking to get to the information.

Leaving that to one side, I have a glance around at some of the other pages.



 Screenshot0017 It's not particularly inspiring and I'm not convinced huge amounts of time was spent putting the offering together.

The Definitive Guide to Ralph Lauren Style is useful and is good 'snacking' information.

The sales info is not terribly exciting - they're assuming the customer knows all about the brand and collections already, and quite frankly, I have no idea about the different collections so it would be useful to have a few words (and I mean just a few) to explain the difference between RL_Classics and The Ralph Lauren Collection as an example.

Now maybe most of the customers who find the RL mobile site are existing RL customers and know what they're after and what they're looking for without having to browse around. In which case, the site needs a search facility. The scenario is that you're looking at Vogue, Tatler or some other fashion magazine and see the Ralph Lauren advertisement with the bag you absolutely must have *now* and you're short on time. A search facility to enable that sale would be invaluable. And when you consider the price for each item in stock, a handful of sales are very important (dresses at $2,000, sandals at $700 and an imported bag at almost $20,000 and the basic polos at $75 it soon mounts up).

On the actual shopping page for the polo shirts, you were given the option as to what colour you might want and asked you your size, but there was no link to a size guide. And for the really expensive items, wouldn't you want a bit of personal service and be connected by telephone to your local sales advisor?

So, 10/10 for bothering to do something on mobile but 5/10 for implementation. More thought needs to go into who the customer is, when they might use a service like this and what service that should actually be.

RL Magazine - Know the Code

UK shoppers in mobile bargain hunt | Mobile Content | News by Mobile Entertainment

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I've just been reading today on Mobile Entertainment Magazine that Forty five per cent of BT's Broadband Anywhere ToGo smartphone customers have browsed the mobile web for goods or services from their devices.  What's more, a third have checked a price, searched for a review or helped them make their buying decision. And one-fifth have actually made a purchase online (although it doesn't specify whether online via mobile or PC internet).

The results came out of an ICM poll among 1,000 BT Total Broadband Anywhere customers between June 17th-24th 2008. Unfortunately I can't find a link to the study as the thing I'm interested in is of the customers who responded, how many were men and what category of shopping are we talking about here? Grocery shopping is a very different animal to fashion shopping or gift buying.

As a woman myself, I know I have very different shopping habits to any of the men in my life. I do a lot of shopping online, but that's for stuff that's easier to get online and is not particularly enjoyable to shop for - typically business books, stationery, PC consumables, vitamins and food supplements and the like. There isn't a creative process involved in the purchase of (m)any of these things except making sure you get the best price and reliable delivery. Fashion shopping online is more than a bit hit or miss with me except for the basics and actually, it's just easier for me to get that kind of stuff from my local High Street.

The-Five-SensesI still enjoy shopping though - as in going out for a few hours and hanging round the shops to see what I can find. This is not goal driven shopping, this is about shopping as a creative process, finding some inspiration, seeing what's out there - a mix of finding the right top, shoes, bag or whatever, that just matches perfectly with something you already have and oh, you just managed to get it for a bargain price too. It's about feeding all the senses during the shopping experience - sight, sound, smell, touch and probably to a lesser degree the taste, although a good cup of tea and a scone and jam does help fuel the shopping session.

There are not many e-commerce sites, let alone m-commerce sites that appeal to the creative nature of a shopping expedition. EBay does it to some degree as it takes a bit of practice to work out what things to look for and also what to buy without making huge mistakes on your purchase. An in-depth knowledge of brands, fabric quality and the psychology of ad-listing will help you in this respect. Another example is my weekly organic grocery delivery from Farmaround. I order fruit and vegetables weekly and I'm never quite sure exactly what's going to be in them as it's dependent on season and what's on offer. The creative process kicks in as there's an element of surprise on arrival and then I can start planning what I'm going to cook that week.

So my question is, if men and women shop in different ways (transactional vs discovery), how is that accounted for with the online shopping experience be that via mobile or PC?

Monday morning news

I have a fair few tabs open on my browser, so in an attempt to reduce that number, here are a few Monday morning links for you. Some of the links are mobile, some are not so pick and choose what you see fit!

MIG is innovating with its new PSMS Refund Manager built specifically for the broadcast industry:

"Refund Manager will enable consumers who interact with mobile competitions or votes, outside the campaign timeframe, to self-serve refunds. The product has been designed specifically in-line with PhonepayPlus regulations to give broadcasters the confidence, and the toolset, to run fully compliant premium rate mobile interactive services."

VentureBeat reported yesterday that venture firm EDF is attempting to take legal action against an entrepreneur who left a negative comment about them on VC review site The Funded. The entrepreneur advised against dealing with EDF ‘unless you are desperate’. What a dumb move. [via The Equity Kicker]

 Jemima Gibbons' take on my Friday favourite, The Tuttle Club. We hang out at The Coach and Horses on Friday mornings in London's Greek Street and I'm proud to tell you that I was at the very first Tuttle and am thrilled to see how it's growing. Brighton Tuttle had its first event on Saturday and it looks like Birmingham will be following suit soon too. More on the Tuttle Blog if you're interested.

Vision Mobile has come up with a 'who's who in mobile' chart. If you're interested in understanding how the mobile industry works, then this chart is probably worth a look.

Technokitten pal, Lisa Devaney, kindly includes me in her list of 'other media people' as a response to The Guardian's Top 100 list. She compiles an interesting list.

Microsoft spoofs the ad business - and does it rather well!

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Paid in full with a glass of milk - a parable

I don't usually write up these kinds of posts, but I liked this one and if you're reading this from a rainy, grey place this morning like I am, then it might bring you a moment of sunshine.

One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door.

Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water. She thought he
looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, then asked, "How much do I owe you?"
"You don't owe me anything," she replied. "Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness."
He said, "Then I thank you from my heart."

As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also.. He had  been ready to give up and quit.

Many years later that same young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled! They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease. Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes.
Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room.

Dressed in his doctor's gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special attention to her case. After a long struggle, the battle was won.

Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge and the bill was sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She read these words.....

"Paid in full with one glass of milk"
Dr. Howard Kelly.

Tears of joy flooded her eyes as her happy heart prayed:
"Thank You, God, that Your love has spread broad through human hearts and hands."

There's a saying which goes something like this:  Bread cast on the waters comes back to you. The good deed you do today may benefit you or someone you love at the least expected time. If you never see the deed again at least you will have made the world a better place - And, after all, isn't that what life is all about?
Now you have two choices.

You can send this page on and spread a positive message. Or ignore it and pretend it never touched your heart. The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Locomatrix in London Lite

Locomatrix in London Lite
Originally uploaded by twhume
Locomatrix and Future Platforms are doing a fine job defining mobile virtual gaming with a location element to it too.

Well done!

Alfie’s Blog » Blog Archive » Twitters model is partially broken: Europe the first casualty

Alfie Dennen (of Moblog fame) has done a write up on Twitter's recent decision to stop the free SMS element of its service. I've seen quite a bit written about it and most of it lacks any understanding of how SMS or the operators work but this post makes some sense of it so worth a look.

For the record, I would pay to receive my (selected) DMs (that's direct messages to the twitter uninitiated) via SMS as well as email. I don't get a huge amount each week, but enough to warrant me buying some kind of bundle.

And for those on the facebook group on this topic who think that the pay to receive SMS on twitter is tantamount to paying to receive junk text messages then they clearly don't understand how the privacy and DM settings work - it doesn't *all* happen on SMS you know. Most of the interaction is web-based - be that mobile or full-fat internet.

Alfie’s Blog » Blog Archive » Twitters model is partially broken: Europe the first casualty

Google Ads: Emphatic 'No' on Homepage, but Mobile Will Be Big | Epicenter from

Well at least that's what Google's Eric Schmidt says:

Now mobile, that's different. That niche has such potential, Schmidt believes, that it will eclipse the tethered business it already does by way of home and office computers.

"Over time we will make more money from mobile advertising," Schmidt said. "Not now, but over time."

Google Ads: Emphatic 'No' on Homepage, but Mobile Will Be Big | Epicenter from

Monday, August 04, 2008

Ever wanted to know the gender and age breakdown of social networks?

Then Rapleaf has answered your prayers. They've just released the full dataset of the 49.3 million people included in the Study of Social Network Users vs Age. It covers the main online social networks including Bebo, Facebook, Myspace, Hi5, LinkedIn, Flickr and more.

Overall, it appears that women are significantly more active on social networks than men as they're more interested in nurturing relationships (confirmed by higher membership on sites like MySpace, Bebo and Facebook. Men on the other hand are more interested in transacting and therefore have a higher representation on LinkedIn (I wonder if that also exposes the gender gap in the workplace at executive level?)
Rapleaf tell us: "women spend more time on social networks building and
nurturing relationships, whereas men are less likely to spend as much time
nurturing relationships as they are 'transacting'."

The missing link in this study is of course the mobile element. None of the mobile social networks are included such as Mxit, Trutap or Peperonity. We also know that online social networks such as Facebook going mobile drives mobile data usage. My question is does that mean *women* will be driving the mobile data revolution (as they seem to be driving the online social networking revolution)? And if so, how are we tailoring mobile data services and the marketing thereof to women. In the UK at least, network operator advertising feels either masculine or gender neutral. It certainly doesn't feel very feminine to me (and I'm not talking about the expectation of seeing pink and pastel colours).

And if my hunch *is* right, then shouldn't we be designing this stuff with women in mind first if we really want to drive mobile data services forward? And if so shouldn't women have more of a voice in making decisions about their digital lives - be they on the mobile internet or the fixed line internet?

[gets off soapbox!]

Friday, August 01, 2008

Museums are embracing mobile technology

Mike Short tipped me off to an interesting event coming up in September showcasing how museums like London's Tate Gallery are using mobile technology to enhance the visitor experience. (It's a one-day event "From Audiotours to the iphone" on 5th September and costs £150.)

And it got me thinking as to what museums are doing in the field of mobile marketing, advertising and media. And it seems they're up to quite a bit. And I imagine some of these things will be explored further at The Tate's forthcoming Symposium.

Across the pond, Cellit ran 'The Digital Post Office of Love', a Valentine's Day promotion, for the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art as part of its ongoing SMS marketing effort. This featured a large, interactive display where visitors could use their mobile phones to instantly post messages via sms to woo other visitors, all in the spirit of Valentine's Day.

Dan Sutch from Nesta's Futurelab has some ideas as to what mobile learning and mobile experiences could be like, particularly from a youth marketing and youth engagement perspective. The slides are interesting and should be food for thought.

Boston Museum of Fine Arts launched a mobile initiative, MFA Mobile. Through MFA Mobile, users are able to personalize a mobile device with works of art from the Museum’s extensive collection of art, ranging from a Claude Monet water lily or Edward Hopper lighthouse to an Egyptian sculpture or African mask.

However, I'm slightly more cynical about this as they were charging $1.99 for an individual image or $4.99 a month for a subscription. I suspect that you could actually take a picture with your cameraphone of *most* of the exhibits which would negate the need for the download. And not only that, if you go to the website, it's easy enough to save the images for free.

I think if I were running this service, I would look to make a donation optional but easy to do to help generate revenues. And perhaps provide the subscription package as an added value bonus to some other fundraising scheme. Maybe Boston museum-goers are happy to pay these prices?

I've been a fan of TXTual Healing for some time and they help create public performances with text messages, some of which are at museums and art galleries. Check out their blog for details of past events.

And if that's not enough, then a rifle through Textually's blog using the tag museum will come up trumps with some interesting examples of what's happening with mobiles and museums, including a lot of art exhibits.

ilovemobileweb awards should be renamed

the 'I love mobile web awards but only if you're *not* a woman and only if your site is on a dotmobi URL'.

Informa Telecoms has organised the Mobile Web Europe conference and in its usual inimitable style has failed to recognise the other half of the sky (to quote John and Yoko). It's a 3-day conference covering all aspects of mobile web (and apparently the *only* mobile web event you'll ever need), sponsored by dotMobi and at the time of writing have only THREE women speaking during the whole event so that works out at one woman per day. That really is unacceptable in this day and age. There are plenty women out there worthy of participating at this conference. Informa really must try harder to find them and engage them. I'm not expecting half the panellists or speakers to be women, but I would expect more than a token one a day. Of course the male speakers are interesting and relevant, but to only have one woman per day is ridiculous.

And then there's the ilovemobileweb awards sponsored by dotmobi. In fact, dotmobi is sponsoring the whole thing. There are no female judges listed. (Haven't Informa and dotmobi seen this list of the Top 50 Women in Mobile Content from Mobile Entertainment Magazine? And that's just for starters).

Then this is compounded by only allowing entries if your site is a dotmobi site. So this rules out everything else that is mobile web. It doesn't seem right to me. The mobile web *isn't* all about dotmobi. And no matter how much money you throw at a conference or awards ceremony, being exclusive in an inclusive, connected world is just barmy. A different thing if it was billed as 'the dotMobi awards for dotMobi customers'.

dotMobi or Informa - care to comment?