How has Australian Mobile gone from no hoper to world class in two years?

Jay MorganIn the two years since the Mobile Lions category launched Australia has had just four nominations and no winners. This year it secured a Gold among eight awards, and was singled out as one of the two stand out markets globally with Brazil. 

Mobile juror Jay Morgan, Havas Worldwide’s digital creative director, spoke to Alex Hayes about what has changed, and what the future holds for the medium.

What has changed in the last two years that has seen Australia come on this far?

I don’t think it’s necessarily Australia in isolation, I think what’s happened is globally mobile in device, app and websites has really moved ahead, it’s come on in leaps and bounds. I think Apple and Android have pushed that a lot around adoption of new technologies.

With the connected devices thing what we were talking about is this commodotisation of things that only a year ago were out of the reach of smaller markets and clients without money. What we’re seeing is this rapid adoption of new technology being driven forward by device manufacturers and the big social companies that really force technological change so now it’s much more accessible.

That’s why now we’re seeing a lot more work from everywhere, but particularly Australia because with a market the size that we’ve got for the kind of work we do in digital is really limited just because we don’t have the reach, so you talk about really expensive builds that if you put them up against other formats the ROI’s probably not there. But now that proliferation of the technology has become so commoditised it’s accessible now.

Even 12 months ago to build responsive websites was expensive, it almost cost you twice as much  as it does now. But all that is open source now and it’s very easy and the new breed of developers that work on these things just do it all.

You spoke in the jury press conference about VML Sydney’s Rip Curl Search GPS product, what struck you about that particularly?

This was a beautiful piece, I had a big thing for that. I was the only person in the room who understood the surfing culture and how much it meant and people were saying ‘it’s another Nike Fuelband’. But if you say that then every connected device regardless of how you use it is another Nike Fuelband.

The point I made was what if this came out first and Nike later? It would still be massive and we’d still award it even though this other one was the first mover. And to be honest the fact is Nike wasn’t the first, they were populist.


So where do we sit with connected devices, they haven’t broken through the way some predicted they would into the mainstream?

This is what I said in the jury room. Connected devices are like hybrid cars, like a Prius. They’re not actually that great and you can go and buy a Golf TDI diesel and it’s cheaper to run, way cheaper in the long run, about the same price to buy and it runs on the same fuel economy.

But the point of any of that is they’re heading in the right direction, so the Utopia is there, and we’re here and we’re coming from a shit place which has devices that don’t connect and a frustrating experience. But we can’t go to there from here without the steps in between so that’s what we’re trying to figure out at the moment.

Nike has pulled back from hardware now globally so there’s that disconnecting Fuelband and open sourcing the Nike Plus platform for the rich data analytics, so you can work that code into the connected devices. They’ve admitted ‘we understand sports and athletes really well, we probably don’t understand connected devices all that well, so let’s let people out there who do figure that out and we’ll benefit from all that later’.


They’re still massive and we’ll see more and more of it, and it’s heading to a Utopia where you don’t know you’re wearing it. When it gets to that point where it does incredibly complex things without you having to think about it, that’s when it will take off and become mainstream.

So what is the future for display advertising on mobile? Can you ever make a good display ad, or is it about finding a way just to service what clients want?

Banner ads are really lazy. People want to create these amazing ad networks that are super efficient and amazing at serving ads and getting the optimum response rates but it does nothing for the user. The internet still exists on the fact that four billion people see a page and 0.1 per cent of them click.

It’s a really bad user experience and it’s trying to base things on the averages rather than engage them with the brand.

There is a time coming because clients will still demand it and publishers still need it where we shift from a basic display model into a much more integrated storytelling mobile experience.

And do publishers need to step forward and engage with you guys on this?

Massively. There’s been some incredible examples of that. Even the work of our jury president Jaime Robinson  from Pereira O’Dell for Intel for Beauty Inside, and it’s advertising but it’s not really advertising, it’s brand funded entertainment and I wouldn’t call it branded content because it’ not really branded.

That’s the higher end, maybe the other end is different sorts of utility and different ways of telling a brand story that a user gets something out of that stops being disruptive and interruptive and stops playing the numbers.

It’s watch this space for display.


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