The last act at ILM West was a panel on the future of “SoLoMo” (Social/Local/Mobile). Moderators Mike Boland and Jed Williams tag-teamed a panel of four:
-David Courtney, CEO, JiWire, a location-based media channel connecting advertisers and mobile consumers via public Wi-Fi or location-based mobile apps
-Steve Espinosa, founder and CEO, AppStack, a developer of mobile apps
-Ankit Gupta, cofounder, Pulse, a developer of iOS apps
-Venkat Kolluri, CEO, Chitika, an ad network based in Boston, specializing in search and local advertising
Moderators Boland and Williams pepper-sprayed the panel with a series of predictions (sometimes deliberately provocative) about major events in SoLoMo over the next 12 months. Panelists were asked to react.
Prediction 1: In the next 12 months, Facebook goes public and moves into mobile.
It was first acknowledged that a significant portion of Facebook’s user base is already accessing the network from mobile devices.
-Espinosa: Yes, this is likely to happen — it’s already in Facebook’s roadmap. But its monetization of mobile will probably be via sponsored content, rather than display advertising
-Courtney: Yes, likely. Facebook can do anything that helps users connect with their friends.
Moderator Williams then asked: “Where does social curation/discovery come in to the search function?”
-Gupta: Opens up more possibilities for the user, more content.
-Espinosa: Social information will be normalized and thus made useful; This is the key development for social content, more than curation per se.
Panelists generally agreed that there’s a big challenge in figuring out the correct ad unit. For example, how does a recommendation by a friend get transformed or incorporated into an ad?
Prediction 2: In the next 12 months, location check-in, as we know it, will die:
Courtney: The active user base (of check-in services) has already been declining (e.g., Foursquare). Therefore, location-based apps, where location is automatically detected by mobile app, is likely to gain share over manual check-in apps.
Prediction 3: In the next 12 months, New social sharing will open up, with Facebook’s Open Graph and expanded social verbs (want, read, listen, etc.).
-Gupta: Advertising won’t necessarily seem like advertising.
-Courtney: The quality of mobile ads is improving and becoming more app-like. The two formats are becoming more similar.
Prediction 4: In the next 12 months, the retail point of sale is poached by connected devices and social signals.
Kolluri: RTB (real time bidding) is occurring. Promotions can now be tailored to individual consumers at the point of individual transactions. The technology already exists.
Prediction 5: In the next 12 months, location becomes the most important targeting metric for mobile ads and deals.
Courtney: We’re betting the company (JiWire) on this!