AF: Boost Communications is a Norwegian company. We were founded back in 2000 by a couple of entrepreneurs from Norway who came out of the Trondheim Technology University. We are a full service mobile marketing company, with offices in Norway, in Oslo and Trondheim. I’ve set up the office in the UK this year, and we also have offices in Dubai and Johannesburg.
DM: There’s a lot of mobile marketing firms out there and I’m sure for brands it can be difficult trying to find the right one to work with. What would you say is your USP?
AF: We offer services across the board - mobile strategy, responsive web design and build, mobile portals, and also media planning and buying. I guess our USP is that we have a lot of top quality development resource out in Norway; we are very innovative in terms of what we do, and on the strategy side of things, I have a very experienced sales team that I’ve hired here in the UK that have a lot of experience in mobile, so with this experience and heritage, I feel we are well placed to service the UK marketplace really well.
DM: OK so let me pick up on that phrase there: “We are very innovative in what we do”. Let me put you on the spot. Give me an example of something innovative you are working on right now.
AF: Currently we are working with a number of clients to build second screen web apps, catering for users who are using a mobile or tablet device, but not as their primary activity, so these are dedicated second screen apps that take account of that.
We are also working on a sports ad platform. Boost as a company has quite an affinity with sports. We have a lot of sports clients on our books, including Manchester City F.C. in the UK for example. We have built their mobile web portal and are helping them with their mobile strategy. And in Norway and S. Africa we have a lot of sports clients and football clubs as well.
So what we’re trying to do is, taking that affinity we have with sports, collecting some good premium publishers that have good sports content, and putting them across our platform and trying to offer some more innovative ways of targeting consumers, using that inventory.
We are building technology in conjunction with another Norwegian company, an ad-serving platform, and we are hoping to take this to market not just with standard targeting; we are also looking into things like behavioural targeting across mobile, contextual targeting, and then in the long run as we build the platform, also adding what we call data-driven targeting on top. So that might be things like taking things like live score odds and putting them into banners and placing them contextually across websites where, let’s say Liverpool are playing a game, we are taking live score odds and putting them into banners ads in Liverpool content across the publishers that are on our platform. So it’s really adding another level of targeting to the normal mobile advertising network mix.
DM: So this is almost like a private network where the inventory is sourced purely from your sports-based clients?
AF: Yes, we’re trying at the moment to set up relationships exclusively with publishers and get a high quality level of inventory across the platform. We’re not currently looking to plug into any exchanges or anything like that. So it’s very niche, but we are hoping to make it very high quality.
DM: And a question I like to ask anyone in your position, trying to sell mobile services, where does mobile sit on your clients’ radar, and when you come across a company that you don’t manage to convince to go mobile, what stops them? What are the barriers?
AF: I think in many cases with some of the smaller brands, it’s fear of the unknown. In terms of what they are doing in marketing at the moment, desktop web has been around a long time. It’s easy to use as a marketing channel and they’ve got that channel nailed down. Mobile is such a fast-moving industry that there’s a certain amount of hand-holding that needs to take place, walking the client through the different options that they have. So it’s very much a consultative sell at the moment.
And it’s no secret that in the UK, the mobile advertising marketplace is very heavily weighted towards performance and not so much brand. So with what we’re trying to do with the sports ad platform is take some of that money out of performance and put it into branding budgets.
DM: OK so what can we expect to see from Boost for the remainder of 2013?
AF: Sure. We are working on launching the sports ad platform towards the end of this year. There’s a lot of work going on at the moment around the technology side of it and getting that all sewn up and getting the publishers on board. On the other side of the business we’re doing a lot of work with clients and prospects on responsive website design and build in various markets. Responsive design is still in its infancy and there are more and more brands looking to build it into their strategy going forward and we are right at the forefront of that.
Adam French is UK country manager, Boost Communications