Mobile is made for the marketing mix. Whether it’s promotion in the four Ps or communication in the four Cs, the mobile device is clearly an essential medium through which to access the consumer. The direct access into such a personal device has to be seen as key to any brand that wants to develop a relationship with the consumer. I’ve recently heard a leading agency chief executive say that no brand has been built on just mobile. That may be true, but it’s going to be a rare brand that can be built in today’s market without mobile.
We’ve been living in a connected world for some time now. And it’s getting more and more mobile. Consumers are increasingly connecting through their mobile device of choice, be it smartphone, tablet or one of the hybrids. And it’s changing the way we search, research and purchase. Search is increasingly made in-app, giving the consumer a more focused result. Where better than a hotel app to search for a place to stay, or a restaurant app to find somewhere to eat? And app and mobile web access is taking place across more locations and more times of the day. That provides a different level of access to the consumer, and new challenges and opportunities for advertisers.
These changing behaviours are shifting the way consumers are exposed to brands and the context in which that exposure takes place. When considering how an individual connects with a brand, the context is essential. Contextual advertising has always been considered as placement in a positive location alongside content that is relevant to the consumer’s lifestyle. What could be more relevant than the individual’s personal life, in which their mobile device plays an integral part?
A mobile or tablet makes a personal connection. You hold it in your hands. You touch the screen. You carry it with you almost constantly. This connects you with the device in a far more direct and personal way than any mouse or remote control can do. And it connects you with the content on that device.
Your mobile is trusted to keep you in contact with the wider world. Trusted to connect you to your friends and family. It transcends and combines work life and personal life. Placement in that context could be invaluable. All of this serves to justify its importance in the marketing mix.
So how does mobile advertising feature in this increasingly mobile, personal and connected world? Online advertising as an accepted form of marketing and promotion has long been adopted, from simple search based on complex algorithms to banners, videos, games and downloads. Mobile brings a new dimension to this, providing all of the traditional internet advertising options plus extra features that allow far more engagement.
The decision to tap your finger on an ad is somehow more personal than the click of a mouse. It’s like you’re pointing directly at the ad or brand and saying, “I’m interested, tell me more”. That’s the start of a direct connection between a brand and an individual. They’ve let you into their life with that single touch and onto their trusted device. Of course, not everyone will click through, typically only six in every thousand do so. And that is why it’s also essential to consider mobile advertising in the context of consistent exposure to a brand. You can imagine the power of such exposure in a retail environment, when so many marketing messages are competing for attention. Or the power of a message across multiple media where mobile supports and enhances other channels such as TV and online.
Of course, there are criticisms. First, in relation to the screen size, although as devices get smaller the ability of users to handle bite-sized chunks of data increases. The most popular news services now summarise stories into small snippets for easy and quick consumption. There is also a fear of accidental clicks. This becomes irrelevant when considered in the context of a brand positioning premium ad, and more and more performance ads are seeking to validate conversions after the click, which will rapidly filter false clicks. Finally, the interruptive nature of ads. Now, if we’re going to criticise an advertising medium for being interruptive, then TV would have died out years ago. The key to this is relevance and design. All of these concerns can be very easily allayed with the right mobile advertising partner, and the specialists in this field understand every nuance to the highest degree.
Initial challenges such as cookie legislation are being overcome with new and effective targeting techniques and location obviously plays a much stronger role in that process with mobile advertising. Analytics and insight will also form a key part of the service allowing that personal consumer interaction to be enhanced even further.
Mobile advertising is still in the relative early stages and is developing rapidly. Although as Facebook is showing, it clearly works. Many brands simply use it to chase clicks and seek conversions. Forward-looking brand marketers, however, are seeing the benefit of the engaging and immersive ad opportunity for brands – whether as a standalone or a supplement to other media campaigns.
The use of rich media is growing as it allows the use of all the functions and features of the phone, from touchscreen and camera, through to the unique location features. And location includes not only the geographic positioning but also the position and movement of the device relative to the user. These functions bring an extra dimension to the mobile advertising format far beyond any other medium. They bring the ads to life without the user even clicking.
There’s an opportunity to connect here. One that the US is embracing much quicker than the UK, just as it did with TV and desktop advertising. The opportunity is mobile. And it’s moving fast.