We’re all mobile now. And, according to the chattering marketing class (within which I’m sometimes included), this year — or next year, but for sure the one after that — will be the “year of mobile.”
As I will keep saying until I’m blue in the face, the “desktop” as we know it will go away sooner rather than later. So, let’s agree that mobile is super-duper important, shall we? Now, think about this: What you want from mobile, what publishers (read: mobile content makers) want, and what brands/marketers want from mobile are not necessarily the same thing.
-A seamless, home-outside-overseas-home again experience. Are they getting this? In short, no. This experience can be had to some degree, sometimes and with some devices and carriers.
-Lots of great content for free (or as cheap as possible), instantaneously, all the time and everywhere. Is this a reality? Yes and no. Tons of apps are free, many content providers (publishers) are currently “giving away” their wares (with a banner ad stuck at the bottom of the screen), but 4G (or even 3G) service is still often shockingly inadequate in much of the U.S. Cellphone and data bills keep soaring (along with cable bills) and in an uncertain economy, many are considering scaling back.
-One or two devices that serve all their needs. Is this doable now? Not really, no, unless you never leave the house and the comfort of your broadband connection. Surely I’m not alone in literally having lost count of the number of devices we own in my family.
-Their phone to simply make life easier. Is that happening? Sure, if you keep your expectations low and don’t seriously expect your phone to do everything for you. You can order food delivered, buy a new case for your phone, or check your email. But still, we have no universal mobile wallet solution, we still can’t use our phones in every part of the world, and how about simultaneously using the internet and making a call with every service provider?
-Ease of targeting. They want to know everything about you (but anonymously, of course), what you like and what you want. There is for no easy UDID addressable device standard for phones that everyone can seem to live with. Until we find a way to make everyone happy in this situation, we’ll continue to see workarounds in place, such as asking people to opt-in (or check in) with preferences, and layering on location data for geo-targeting (so the maternity retailer that notices you’re walking by their store can hope that you may be an expecting parent).
-Excellent data. Data across all of digital marketing is getting incredibly powerful and valuable. However, without great measurement standards and resolving the addressability issue, everything is just educated guesses.
-Real engagement. We see lots of formats and ad types being tried (throw it all against the smartphone screen and see what sticks): full-screen takeovers, persistent banners, dynamic banners, tap-to-call, interstitials. But are they working? Curiosity and the fat fingers mean that higher-than-expected engagement is being seen for now. No one expects that to last. But the billion-dollar question is: What type of ad will consumers not mind interacting with, and will it deliver the brand engagement/purchase intent marketers want?
-Revenue. The transition of the publishing world from print to digital has been a race to the bottom line. Legacy publishers are still having a tough time replacing all those print ad dollars with digital dimes. The game is all about squeezing more revenue out of the existing content they’ve spent a lot of treasure to produce. For now, tablet ads fetch a premium so they’re less concerning. Smartphones are where publishers are still trying to get a grip on monetization. Formats such as Flipboard et al, show some promise. However, the jury is still out on what type of ad delivers for brands on mobile (and therefore “work” for consumers), so publishers are forced to wait and see. Whatever works for the brands should (but no guarantees) work for the content producers. The demands of each will level out and they’ll find a happy medium.
It should be clear that a lot needs to happen before anyone — advertisers, publishers, and us regular folks — is ever truly satisfied with our mobile lives and experience. For brands and publishers, look to what consumers want (speed, great content, preferably free or cheap; and overall real benefit and value in their daily lives). If you listen, and heed the call, we will all win.