People, not devices, drive convergence

People, not devices, drive convergence
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These days, we can’t afford to talk media without talking mobile. What was once affectionately referred to as the ‘fourth screen’ seems, by all accounts, to be ruthlessly climbing the social ladder to vie for the top spot with TV.

The market is flooded with stats suggesting an almost mind-boggling upswing in the use of mobile devices by consumers, such as:

  • 65% smartphone penetration in Australia
  • 90% of smartphone owners use it to access the internet daily
  • 30% of internet users have made a retail purchase via their smartphone in the last 12 months

With such an overwhelming amount of evidence pointing toward mobile being the dominant device of the foreseeable future, it makes sense that our clients are increasingly interested in playing in this space. Brands are currently investing in mobile advertising at a growth rate of 220% p.a, with an annual expenditure of more than $862million.

So how can we as agencies make sense of mobile advertising, and what is the right way forward for clients?

Firstly, agencies need to understand the tremendous change that mobile and online advertising is going through, in order to be able to articulate that change to clients and identify the best way forward for their brand.

One of the most important things to note is that despite the proliferation of mobile devices, advertising in this space is still a relatively new and sometimes confronting concept for consumers. Unlike more traditional channels such as TV, magazines or radio, where advertising is expected, the intimate, personal nature of a mobile device means they can very easily be perceived as intrusive.

To make an impact on mobile, brands need to work harder to establish their relevance or ‘reason for being there’ with users. This requires a deeper understanding of the user, their behaviours and the triggers that will incentivise interaction with your ad. Simply ‘being there’ will not suffice.

Fulfilling a consumer need or solving a pet peeve is one of the most obvious ways in for brands wanting to make an impact on mobile. When you consider the very nature of a mobile device – the fact we rely on it to make our lives easier – it’s not difficult to see why brands with an eye for problem solving tend to be successful in this space.

Illustrating this point is this year’s winner of Samsung and Visual Jazz Isobar’s ‘Create 32 Hackathon’ – a competition that challenged developers to explore new, creative uses for Near Field Communication technology.

Top honours this year went to a TapXPress – a seamless grocery shopping app that uses NFC technology to organise your shopping list based on aisle location, integrates location based advertising and rewards shopper based loyalty. The app is able to learn from previous shopping trips, targeting advertising based on preferences and behaviour, as well as share promotional discounts and store all of the customer’s loyalty information.

The idea for the app was born out of the creator’s own frustrations with existing shopping list apps which did not order items by aisle, meaning he wasted more time instore having to double-back and collect missed items. This is exactly the kind of insight brands should be looking to glean from their target audiences if they want to see success in the mobile space.

At this year’s ad:tech in San Francisco, Google SVP of Advertising Susan Wojcicki spoke to the importance of integrated campaigns that targeted people, rather than devices. Her presentation emphasised mobile as the mechanism not the answer; the mechanism will only deliver a result if your ideas are targeted and purposeful.

Put simply: know your consumer, know what they want, and seek to add value.

Success in this rapidly changing media landscape depends on our ability to understand, interpret and target the consumers themselves, as opposed to limiting our focus to the devices they use. Knowledge of their media footprint alone will no longer suffice – we need to get to know the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’.

Simon Ryan is Managing Director of Carat Melbourne

To read Ryan's other opinion piece, 'Improving Marketing Accountability…and then ROI', click here.

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