Roberta Jean Smith, Founder & CEO, VeraSprite

Last Fall, I was sitting in the audience at a CTIA Keynote Panel and was startled to hear Jeffery Katzenberg, Dreamworks CEO, say something I thought I would never hear from an entertainment notable: that the mobile space requires a revolutionary format; that repurposing existing content will not work in this environment; that a whole new arc needs to be developed to capture audiences within a 4 to 10 minute time frame.

While the inevitability of this revolution has been known to those of us who have been in mobile content for 10 or more years, resistance to change has been formidable.  I believe change in format is essential for vital communication and will attempt to lay out the key elements of compelling mobile content, irrespective of source or purpose.

One-to-one vs. One-to-many.  The fundamental difference in the utility of the device is important.  Historically, a phone has been for communicating between two persons.  A mobile phone is a small, personal device ever present on a person   throughout the day.  In transitioning to a one-to-many or broadcast model, the personal intimate nature of phone usage needs to be maintained.  Illustrative example:  listening through earbuds.

Short and time dependent.  Messages from the third source need to be personalized and opportunistic in grabbing time while the recipient is temporarily disengaged from the activities at hand.  A sponsored message should be no longer than three or four minutes. Illustrative example:  standing in line at Starbucks.

Text vs multimedia.  In creating compelling content for the mobile user, the various learning modalities are even more important.  Repurposing text or words from a website will not accomplish the goal.  Words are abstract, difficult to process in a short timeframe in a potentially distracting environment.  Branding experts understand this limitation…most brands are identified by “look and feel”, a visual image that is instantaneously recognized.

Exploiting the learning modalities.: visual.  The human brain processes visual images most efficiently.  In fact, mnemonics techniques suggest grouping words in a visualized space for better recall.  A sponsored message should be graphically rich in color and images, used to reinforce the content.  In a short playtime, a vivid image will leave a longer impression than text.  Here, branding is especially important.  “Brands” are easily identified and engender the trust based on reliable and consistent past experience.  Use the same spokesperson to represent your entity as a trusted information source along with repeating color schemes or “skins” (a mobile formatting term).

Exploiting the learning modalities: auditory.  It is a phone, afterall.  Natural language messages (versus computer generated) are most comfortable to a mobile listener.   lipsync is extremely important.  Buffering videos will alienate a recipient of your message.  Be aware of any bandwidth issues.  Bluetooth can create lipsync lags as well.

Exploiting the learning modalities:  kinetic.  We all know games are addictive.  Why, I will leave to experts, but I have my own opinion:  interactivity.  Any amount of interactivity that can be added to the message will make it more compelling.  The recipient has a sense of control and the ability to provide input to the content.  Kinetic reinforcement can be as simple as touching a button to move the arc or sending the content to be shared or “go viral” on social media such as Facebook or Twitter.

I hope my comments will help in communicating the benefits of your health and treatment programs.


[tm] is a software developer specializing in mobile content.  Proprietary technology offers natural speaking photo-realistic avatars performing in an automated production and digital publication system.