Mobile Moments: The New Reality in Marketing

MMA Germany
Aug 8, 2017 · 5 min read

decade has passed since the launch of the iPhone. Still, discussions in marketing about online and mobile are limited to technical topics only, ignoring the massive change it has caused in user behavior. While traditional computers such as desktops and laptops are mainly used in fewer, less intensive sessions, the smartphone accompanies us through the whole day. This results in an extremely high number of sessions, offering users a personalized, targeted and relevant experience.

According to data from Google white paper “Micro-Moments: Your Guide to Winning the Shift to Mobile”, we check our mobile companion on average 150 times a day. Other studies also show that more than half of the time we grab our mobile phone, the duration of each session lasts less than 30 seconds. Of course, depending on the source, these figures do vary, but there is strong agreement on the trend and impact of media usage observed across all studies. However, the staggering difference is not in the frequency and intensity of use but rather in the changing context and intent. The question is: how can we evaluate context? The answer is simple, we can assess intent and context for each mobile usage situation based on the following four parameters:

Intent: which goal does the user pursue with the current usage?

Immediacy: how much time the user has to accomplish the goal?

Location: what is the local context surrounding the user?

Emotional state: what is the emotional state of the user?

One can quickly determine how different user’s experience is with respect to each individual mobile situation. For example, a stressed business traveler trying to catch a train and reaching hurriedly to his smartphone to find the right train platform will naturally expect an instant and uncomplicated search result. However, a person may as well be sitting on a cosy couch on a lazy Sunday, browsing through a smartphone device without any specific purpose. As compared to the business traveler, that person will be more open to inspiration or distraction.

What’s interesting about the examples given is that the person at the train station and the one on the couch might also be the same person — but caught in different situations, at a different moments in time. Consequently, the four parameters of motivation, urgency, location, and state of mind differ tremendously. This is can be a typical example of a differentiation that has not yet been considered at this depth in traditional marketing planning, but which in my view, is absolutely necessary for marketers to understand the new media reality.

This new form of media usage is what Forrester Research, calls a “mobile moment”: they define it as “a single point in time and space when someone pulls out a mobile device to get what they want in their immediate setting”. Moreover, consumers today expect all information and services to be instantly available, on every device, in each context and at the right moment to them.

The term has quickly gained attention, with Google referring to the concept of device-agnostic “micro-moments”. In a white paper Google provides helpful recommendations on how to get the most advantage out of these mobile moments. Their advice for marketers in a nutshell: “Be there”, “Be useful” and “Be quick”. With exactly these goals in mind, last year Google announced that their search algorithm will punish mobile sites using intrusive interstitial advertising in the search ranking. According to the company blog, this change is intended to help users access the content they are looking for easily and without barriers. YouTube’s TrueView Video Ads follows a similar principle — allowing users to skip advertisements related to their interest and usage context after five seconds. Everyone who has experienced the lengthy thirty-seconds commercial clips loading before the actual video they want to see on Youtube, understands, how exhausting this can be when one is using a smartphone.

A positive example here can be the seen in the new app offered by Tagesschau, the leading German news show on TV. “Tagesschau 2.0” presents news in the form of short, vertical videos, which users can explore further in depth, or — similar to Tinder — swipe away. Video recommendations are shown depending on the place of residence, interest and user behavior. Additionally, the app also delivers push notifications aligned with user context or interest.

Deloitte and WARC call marketing that considers not only the user himself but also the current context and surrounding setting of the user “moment marketing”. From my point of view, there are three essential components needed for moment marketing on mobile: programmatic platforms (which enable communication in real-time), data (which describe the anonymous user and its current context) and dynamic creatives (which can adjust the message to the respective user and its context).

However, as obvious and straightforward this approach may sound, in many campaigns it is yet far from reality. Static Excel spreadsheets still dominate media planning, and campaigns are optimized for channels rather than the users and their personal moments. In 2016, the classical targeting parameters were age, gender, and income, rather than interest, context and emotional state. Changing this is certainly the main challenge advertisers, agencies and providers are about to face in 2017.

What’s more, in line with the change of media usage, our attention span has also adapted to shift in the digital usage. According to a study by Microsoft, our attention span has fallen from twelve to eight seconds within the last 15 years. Just as a comparison: a goldfish has an attention span of nine seconds. This fun fact further emphasizes the need to apply the concept of “mobile moments” in marketing strategies.

This opinion piece by Daniel Rieber, Vice Chair at MMA Germany and VP Marketing at adsquare, was first published in German as an Expert Insights on

Daniel Rieber is an author, lecturer and consultant for mobile marketing and digital transformation. The industry expert is Vice Chair of the MMA Germany and VP Marketing at adsquare, a leading mobile data exchange. More articles on:

MMA Germany

The Mobile Marketing Association’s German Local Council strives to accelerate the transformation and innovation of mobile marketing and advertising, and the technologies that enable their advancement in Germany and globally.

MMA Germany

Written by

Mobile Marketing Association's German Local Council strives to stimulate the growth of mobile marketing and its associated technologies in the country.

MMA Germany

The Mobile Marketing Association’s German Local Council strives to accelerate the transformation and innovation of mobile marketing and advertising, and the technologies that enable their advancement in Germany and globally.