It was a nice breakaway from the normal Mobile Monday Melbourne format to watch the the expert speakers vying for an account, but the most eye-opening parts of the event were the facts that emerged about what a cruel place the mobile space can be for Australian nonprofits. For the July meeting, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals solicited some of the mobile industry’s experts on what they should do for a $50,000 mobile campaign. During the night it was revealed the RSPCA had run mobile campaigns in the past taking donations by phone, but that much of the money contributed was eaten up by the carriers and Australia is one of the only major nation’s without a zero-rated charity SMS number.
MediaSmart, a division of Telstra, led off the pitches with a presentation by Justin Stewart who touted the company’s access to the large Telstra audience, followed by Brad Birchell of Asatori showcasing a simple mobile site with lots of cross platform potential. The pitches began to get more interesting as Front Foot’s Anton Sher pitched a mobile site that harnessed the power of a large brand to accompany the RSPCA. With an RSPCA contribution, donors would get access to the SIMS pets mobile game as well, offering extra incentive to give. In addition, Anton, who used his own Gen Y daughters to field his ideas, also tried to get blog activism involved by creating a tool people could put on their website with a text in number so people could access the RSPCA site. Finally Rachel De Sain of the small company Flaxworks used her experience with MTV to talk about using users to create and police content.
In a surprise twist, two audience members ended up taking the stage with their own pitches that introduced ideas wildly different ideas. Audience member Ian pitched a site that would send out emergency calls to action where users could donate small amounts quickly and then a “name a pet” feature that would allow subscribers to submit names for the shelter’s new pets.
Audience member Myron followed the philosophy that when young people think “dogs” they should think “RSPCA” and that this operated on their terms. He pitched a mobile concept that would use augmented reality to allow a user to photograph a dog and then find out what breed it is, and then find out what shelter had that breed.
Many of the issues came down to cost and maintenance. Although allowing users to provide content was a favored idea, the practicalities of policing it made the cost benefit low. Added on to that is the cost of simply designing a system to allow users to submit content or network with one another, and many of the companies said that it was far more effective to just link to facebook than it would be to reinvent the wheel with your own system.