Chris Younger, principal and director of strategy for Ayzenberg, moderated a panel discussion on the subject of being iconic. He was joined by panelists Maria Pacheco, senior director of marketing, mobile, for Dreamworks Animation; Bill Rehbock, general manager of content marketing for Nvidia; Marcus Gners, COO of Lifesum; and Fabien-Pierre Nicolas, senior marketing director for App Annie.

Starting off, Chris Younger queried the panelists on the rapid evolution of mobile devices and wearable tech, and where they thought it might be headed. “What is mobile ” Gners replied. “You have the rapid development of the Internet of Things. Everything is going really fast, it’s exponential not linear. The technology means you will have a much more intimate relationship with your users.” The smartphone and the wearable devices we’re seeing have tremendous computing power, but equally important are the fact that they are with us every day and that they contain sensors to track not only what we’re doing but important data on our physical status as well.

The technology changes have meant changes in marketing as well. “What we’re seeing that the key currency in mobile gaming is time,” said Nicolas. “We’re seeing three to five hours of usage – up to a quarter of a person’s time per day is with their phone. Yet the share of media dollars on mobile is still very small. The brands are losing the battle of engagement with the consumer, especially consumers who are under thirty years old.”

Younger followed up by wondering how well apps built by brands have performed. “Apps built for a brand generally haven’t reached their goals,” said Nicolas, if they are built primarily for promotional purposes rather than providing real utility or value to consumers. He cited the Starbucks app as one that people have responded well to because it’s useful. But we’ll see better results soon, Nicolas feels. “The future is coming from Japan,” Nicolas said. “Puzzle & Dragons did a billion dollars in revenue last year, and is on track to do more than that this year. You saw brands like DC Comics partnering with them to get access to the audience. I think that might be more the future than building stand-alone apps.”

Partnerships might be another way to pursue getting brands to audiences, Younger noted, and the panelists agreed. “When we’re trying to think of what kind of app might be relevant to the next movie we’re coming out with, we’ll think about the genre and go to the app store and look at the top titles,” said Pacheco. “We don’t just want to throw out a light app – we’re charged with revenue generation. We reach out to developers who have already made really successful games, and have a conversation with them. We launched Turbo in May of 2013, and we recently hit 50 million downloads. Before the movie even opened we had 12 million downloads.” Pacheco noted that they had a very productive marketing partnership with Verizon, including an eight week racing contest based around the app.