The Postdesktop Mobile Web: Where Context is Queen

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Mobile Platforms and the New Law of the Land

Tariq Hassan is vice president of worldwide marketing and communications for the Imaging and Printing Group at Hewlett Packard (HP). "This is really just a variation on a theme, with more opportunities for how you address your brand," says Hassan. "We were talking about the post-television era, now we're talking about the post desktop-computer era."

The foremost consideration for anyone building a brand in the digital era is the same as it was for the introduction of radio or broadcast television, he says-knowing what your brand's focus is and establishing what you want to stand for. "The most fundamental change is that now you have multiple platforms to create that focus." Those multiple platforms require a new way of thinking about the web experience, notes Doug Heise, product marketing director at CoreMedia AG, a web content management company based in San Francisco.

"One of the things that we've seen is that when you start to think about building websites for mobile users and think of a post-desktop world, you have to turn on your head the way you think about the web," says Heise.

Traditionally, he says, content providers would build a website, post information about the company on it, and people would come to it-but that model is changing. Search is no longer driving usage as consumers turn increasingly to the use of dedicated apps to fit their personal needs and away from the use of search engines. Importantly, as Lieberman notes, Google can't crawl apps.

These changes mean that content providers need to think differently about the experiences they create. As new devices such as mobile phones and tablets began to emerge, the first efforts of content providers involved taking their online presentation and adapting it. "So you would tend to get these dumbed-down versions of websites," says Heise. Then content providers began to think more creatively about how they could connect with users based on their unique needs and locations.

Sean Cook is CEO of ShopVisible, an on-demand ecommerce solution in Atlanta. Content managers generally fall into one of two traps, says Cook. One is creating content separately, across all of the different channels, which becomes an "unwieldy nightmare," he says. The other trap he sees are companies that simply try to do a direct replication of content across all channels.

"What we see as the right way to go is to have the technology that allows you to optimize the content based on where the consumer is going to be." In short, it is all about context. As content providers combine content and context, they are experimenting with the creation of semi-closed platforms that offer unique experiences that many consumers are willing to pay for. It is all about thoroughly understanding consumer needs and preferences in terms of not only what type of information they need but also when and how they wish to access this information.

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