Mobile – one size doesn’t fit all

Nigel 4

Nigel Clarkson, Commercial Director, Weve

The trade press seems alive just now with stories of the inexorable rise of ‘mobile’. There is unmistakeable excitement around this small device which is capable of doing so many things.  The ability of mobile to drive search, social, video, SMS, display, apps, and of course the future of areas like beacons and a whole new sector of location marketing means exciting times all round.

Over the last few years, in media terms, the migration of services and time now allocated to a mobile has been an utterly seismic shift, far more pronounced than the years it took for online to grow in its early stages.  Inevitably the terms ‘online’ and ‘mobile’ will become more blurred because the simple fact is that when people are ‘online’ now, it is more likely to be on a mobile device anyway.

Just this week we have seen two stories that highlight this huge shift in consumer behaviour.  The first is news from ComScore that the majority of digital media consumption now takes place in mobile apps.  52% of ‘digital time’ is now spent in mobile apps, and when you then throw time spent on the mobile web this figure goes up to 60%.  It should come as no surprise that within this figure, most time is spent on social media, entertainment, games and news/information.  In other words people are going where content is most engaging, entertaining or useful.  Combine this with the functions available on the mobile like touch, gyroscope, sound activation and it feels like mobile should be a marketers dream, so the outlook is surely a positive one.

The other piece of news that caught my eye was that online shopping on mobiles has overtaken desktop for the first time.  Some 53% of visits to retailers online stores come from a mobile device and already 40% of purchases are now made on a mobile.  These stats are incredibly impressive and give an insight into the challenges of last click attribution modelling.  The IAB’s recent studies show that roughly half of retailers online sites are not correctly mobile optimised.  This is the digital equivalent of locking the doors on their high street stores, or not opening on weekends!  So people are either struggling through an average user experience to buy a product on their mobile or by the looks of the stats, doing all of the research and browsing on the mobile, then moving onto a laptop / desktop to complete the transaction.  Imagine how this figure will change if retailers sorted their mobile presence and purchase flows out properly.

We at Weve recently conducted a piece of research with one of our partner agencies to look at the growing importance of screens and mobile in particular. To conclude that mobile phones are an essential part of our daily lives now probably wouldn’t have earned us any media research awards. But what this piece of co-hosted research has shown is the genuine extent to which people utterly depend on their mobiles for so many different utilities and even emerging patterns of psychological and behavioural changes driven by mobile devices.

The research has shown mobile’s strength is even more pronounced in the younger generations.  In pretty much every category we looked at, the 16-24 and the 25-34 demographics (who are growing up in the Smartphone era) are significantly  ‘more mobile’ than older groups. This covers all aspects from time spent, services used, attitudes to marketing and willingness to adopt new mobile utilities. The challenge to the media planning community is that these younger audiences don’t think about the functions of their habits in the boxes that we place everything in still – TV, VOD, mobile, digital or tablet. It’s just what they do. This generation don’t divide their time like we do as a marketing community. And that is our main challenge.

And so this really exposes one major truth – that one mass ‘mobile’ audience, like all other ‘mass’ mediums like out of home and TV, doesn’t really exist. What exists is certainly huge scale of users on ‘mobile’, like TV and OOH again. But behaviours in that group vary by age, gender and even location. What is clear though is that everything in mobile is on the rise – ownership, usage, and the migration of other media channels onto mobile.

Every survey of mobile consumers shows an increasing willingness to receive adverts and messages, providing they are directly relevant. Our research shows that over half of 16-24s deem it acceptable for a brand to communicate with them if they are already a customer, for example; at the same time, 35% of 16-24s say that it’s acceptable for brands to send banner ads based on something that they’ve recently searched for. There’s a lot more detail in the research but the underlying message is this: the more relevant your marketing is to mobile consumers, the more positive the response is likely to be.

And that is our main challenge, and again it goes back to the now-sexy area of data.  Before you can ask smart, targeted actionable question you have to have the right data in the first place. Getting useful answers to those questions depends entirely on knowing your audience with a high degree of accuracy and certainty; not just what the demographics of that audience are, but what their interests are, where they’re located, and what contextual layers like time and weather will do to influence the planning.  Without that context, even the biggest of data sets will never yield the results or competitive advantage that marketers are looking for.

The challenge for the mobile marketing industry, then, is to find better ways to ensure that the messages and adverts they’re delivering are indeed relevant and contextual. That means smarter platforms and first-party data sets that give brands direct access to the right audiences, not just the obvious or easy ones.  At this point you’re probably thinking: “well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?” And you’d be right – this is our business, and we’re in it for a very good reason. Mobile is simply too big and too important for it to be ignored as a marketing platform, however difficult it may sometimes seem.

Now I don’t know who in media currently owns the consumer who is watching a pre-roll ‘TV’ ad before reading a piece of content in a ‘newspaper’ whilst on a mobile device? But what this piece clearly shows is that the consumers in question really don’t worry if it’s AV or TV, newspaper or digital, mobile or display. What they worry about is whether they have a fully charged battery, good reception and a decent mobile experience on whatever content they are choosing to consume.

Very exciting times ahead for all.

Written by:
Nigel Clarkson, Commercial Director
at Weve

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