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Re-Inventing the Mobile Web

Interview with Derek Handley
Co-founder & CEO, The Hyperfactory

derek_h150×190.gifFounded in 2000 in New Zealand, the Hyperfactory has become one of the world’s leading mobile-focused agencies. In the past year, the Hyperfactory has won a Clio, awards at the MMA, the Asia Pacific Digital Media Awards, Best in Show at the OMMAs, and was part of 5 campaigns that won at Cannes Lions.


At the Informa Mobile Advertising Conference in San Francisco, we had a chance to talk with Derek Handley, co-founder and CEO of The Hyperfactory about his view of mobile advertising.


First tell us a little bit about the Hyperfactory.

hyperfactory_logo.gifThe Hyperfactory provides a ‘full circle” service for brands, media companies, and entertainment companies. By ‘full circle” service I mean everything including strategy, ideas, creatives, technical production, and then media planning – buying – tracking. Sometimes we do just one or two things, but sometimes we do the whole thing.

Do you see any trends in sort of companies that are coming to you these days to do mobile advertising?

The trend is everyone! If you look at the clients that we’ve gotten in the past couple of months, the mix has everything – publishers, television stations, food brands, FMCG, automotive, handset manufacturers.

Actually, it’s not so related to the brand, we find its more related to the brand manager or the agency, it’s not so much the category.

One trend we have see is the major retailers are moving to mobile. In the space of a couple of months we picked up Best Buy, Nordstroms, and JC Penny, all doing mobile stuff.

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Some Hyperfactory Clients

Is there any group that is lagging in the move to mobile?

If any group is lagging, I think it is some of the big internet companies. They already run their business on line, and they are doing a bit of mobile, but not the way they should be doing it.

For example, there is a very well known social network that doesn’t even have the capability to detect if you are on a mobile. If visit their site on an iPhone you get served the same pages as if you were on a PC. This just shows how far out of touch they are.

You are one of the few mobile focused agencies that operates worldwide, do you see many differences in the various geographies?

Yes we do. For example, in UK, there are a lot of great sms campaigns, but not as much the mobile web based experience. The mobile web is more starting to take off in the US.

You have recently started a new division focused on media and entertainment clients. Tell me about that.

adidas_logo.gifWe often integrate entertainment in our campaigns, for example the Motorola Airport campaign is highly integrated with entertainment, with soccer start David Beckham and pop-star Jay Chow. [see a full write up of this campaign] And when we’ve worked with Adidias over the past few years we always have the soccer team involved.

But our “Entertainment Division” is relatively new. We set it up to work with companies in the entertainment business specifically because these are brands that don’t use agencies. Companies like Disney, the TV stations, the studios, some content creators – they don’t have an agency, they are the creative shop themselves.

Are these companies starting to get into mobile?

No, they’re not starting yet, but I think they should. That’s the point.

Of course some of them have done some good stuff – some movies like Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean and some television programs like Bravo’s Top Chef. But a lot of this sector has not gone to mobile, and it’s time they should.

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David Beckham in the Motorola Campaign
at Hong Kong Airport

[see a full write up of this campaign]

You work with a lot of agencies – is that an easy relationship?

derek_quote1.gifClearly it is always going to be a bit of a tenuous relationship – because they will always be thinking “do we want to do this ourselves or not”. For now they need to lean on people like us, but it will keep evolving.

Also different agencies behave differently. For example Avenue A has been far more aggressive to do things in house, because they are an entirely digital agency. That might not be the case with some other agency which focuses on a lot of areas including digital but not yet on mobile.

What are the big challenges you have to overcome in creating effective, compelling campaigns?

Some of them are the same ones that most people talk about – the wide variety of handsets, issues with specific operators, lack of network speed, and the challenge of trying to get everything to render correctly.

And how do you deal with this?

derek_h75.gifSome agencies go for a “least common denominator” approach to mobile, but we think that is wrong and it will damage the user experience. Subscribers should expect more.

At the moment, people can accept some kind of “dumbing down” for the mobile web, but in the next year or two, when everyone has a great device, and everyone has high speed connection, “dumbed-down” sites just won’t cut it anymore.

That’s why at Hyperfactory we are always trying to push the boundaries of what we can do. Our real challenge is to continually reinvent the definiton what the mobile web is.


20.02.2008    Tags: ,
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