‘Think with Innovators’ is an interview series in which we pick the brains of some of the leading figures in digital marketing. Today, we talk with Ben Phillips, Global Head of Mobile at MediaCom, whose role sees him working with brands around the world as they find new ways to connect with consumers through their mobile devices.
Over the course of thirteen years working with mobile, Ben Phillips has watched the underlying technology change beyond recognition. “We’ve evolved at a rapid pace, mobile probably more so than any other channel,” he says, surveying a career that began back when text messaging was still a novelty and phones lasted all week on a single charge. “I've seen everything from push SMS campaigns, to today's more advanced technologies around programmatic, and my role now sees me working with major global brands, building out best practice solutions for mobile and then helping to bring everybody up to speed.”
For Ben, the great advantage of mobile is the insight it gives marketers into the lives and routines of consumers. “A lot of the time you might dip into your handset for inspiration. You might look for somewhere to go, or something to buy, or even in store when you're looking at a specific product to compare against different offerings,” he says, reflecting on how ubiquitous access to information has fundamentally changed our behaviour. “What mobile brings to the table is better information, better data and better consumer insight.”
And it’s this abundance of data and insight that makes mobile such a fertile ground for innovation. In a recent campaign with one of their automotive clients, Mediacom used proximity and geodata to enhance their understanding of different patterns in their audience’s behaviour throughout the day. “We looked at how the consumer’s day begins, what they do on their commute to and from work,” explains Ben, “then we knew how to target them in different areas.” As mobile produces such a rich set of signals, it lends itself particularly well to programmatic, which Ben says enables marketers to target customers “at a very deep level, so you’re delivering the best content at the best time.”
"The mobile marketplace is constantly being redefined by the consumer, and they're moving at such a rapid pace that if you're not supporting or understanding that you will be left behind very quickly."
While the technologies Ben spends his days thinking about are cutting edge, he sees potential for innovation everywhere. “I believe that innovation is using new technology, or old, in a way that's outside of the norm,” he says, “so really an innovator is just somebody that thinks about utilising the tools they've got in a different way.” Ultimately, for Ben, innovation isn’t simply an aspiration or a nice-to-have, it’s essential to thriving in this fast-moving world. “There’s a saying that if you can see the bandwagon, you're already too late,” he says, “and I think that really is true of mobile.”
As someone who knows all too well how rapidly technology can move in this space, Ben believes that staying ahead of the latest trends is key. “Mobile is very agile and you need to be very nimble because consumers will find uses for products we haven't even considered yet.” In this regard, Ben finds help close to home, with his thirteen year old daughter giving him an insight into how the mobile-first generation are using and adapting the technology. “It’s a fantastic focus group, “ says Ben, “because the mobile marketplace is constantly being redefined by the consumer, and they're moving at such a rapid pace that if you're not supporting or understanding that you will be left behind very quickly."