What are the most significant ways that mobile technology has changed the ways consumers behave from day to day?
With mobile, everything becomes immediate. So people act more on impulse, plan less, and use their mobile to remember things for them.
First, you can act on impulse more easily with a web-connected phone. We see this in the tremendous growth in mobile donations and the high number of mobile purchases on eBay.
Second, it becomes less necessary to plan. You don’t need to agree a meeting spot with friends – you can choose one on the go, or check where your friends are on Foursquare. You can find a coffee shop near you on the fly, and navigate there with GPS.
Finally, the phone becomes a second brain. Your smartphone enables you to find answers quickly, so it can increase daily efficiency. You can use tracking apps to record and detect patterns in your own behavior, or simply write down what to buy at the grocery store. Alarms and push/SMS alerts can be like personal secretaries, reminding you to pick up a prescription or go to a meeting. People rely on their own memories less – for better or worse!
The important thing to remember is that this immediacy doesn’t just change the way a consumer behaves, it also changes their expectations. You expect to get information immediately. You expect to get a response right away. The time between action and reaction is greatly diminished.
Faris Yakob talks about how technology is lessening cultural latency, meaning that information spreads so quickly now that things can rise and fall in popularity in the blink of an eye. This is in large part due to mobile.
There’s a huge push towards display advertising. Is that what people want?
There needs to be a mix of advertising styles in a campaign. Any campaign needs a number of different components. A display banner is one way to drive attention to a mobile presence. Obviously ads need to be targetted, but they also need to be useful or entertaining. I’m a big fan of getting branding on existing and popular apps. And there’s a lot of potential in location – particularly when it comes to targeting.
Another big opporunity is to integrate mobile advertising with published advertising. In New York, there are a lot of bus stop ads and posters that include mobile “calls to action”. This adds a digital layer onto a previously static, analogue ad. Mobile presents an opportunity for the advertiser to get feedback from the consumer, to close the loop.
Are barcodes the best way to make advertising interactive?
There are a few options. I would recommend a barcde AND a shortcode at the moment. Everyone can text, so a shortcode will work for everyone. But most barcodes require a smartphone to work, which not necessarily everyone will have.
What are the consumer trends that mobile advertisers and publishers need to be aware of?
As I said before, mobile has trained consumers to expect speed. Brands and the media cannot be slow to react when people can consume and produce content anytime, anywhere. I think big companies need to rethink their approval processes to create more nimble organizations and structures.
Mobile has allowed “capturing” and “sharing” to become the norm. For example, I recently saw a billboard that prompted people to take a picture of it, and present the picture for a discount. But agencies should harness the massive amount of user generated content being created through mobile. What if you could send that billboard picture to your friends or network and they could also get the deal?
“Check in” services make it easier to build loyalty and incentives around a consumers interests. What you check-in depends on the service – on Foursquare, it’s a place, on Hot Potato, it’s an activity, etc. The audience for these services may be slim now, but it’s something to watch.
Something else to pay attention to is game mechanics. Collecting points, earning badges, and “leveling up” has become an increasingly common way to reward certain behavior through mobile. Think about how many people play Farmville – now apply that to real life. This is what Foursquare does: reward actions with virtual currency that has social cache as well as nearby deals. Brands and companies should think about how they can reward behaviors in the real world in a fun, useful and relevant way.
One other trend we’ve been watching is the move towards social filters. People are moving away from destination news sites and just using their social network feeds (Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook) instead. Mashable just reported that 75% of news consumed online is through shared news from social networking sites or e-mail. We will increasingly rely on certain people in our networks that excel at aggregating relevant news: our founder Alan Rambam termed them “newsmasters.” These people will play an increasingly important role in the media ecosystem. So will mobile phones, which is where much of our news is now read, created, and shared.
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