Marketers, take note: 2009 is the year of mobile. Well, maybe. The industry has been saying that for years. But with the swift advances in technology this year, brands and advertisers don't want to bypass mobile in their media mix any longer.
In 2008, we saw a notable change in how consumers interact with mobile technology. They have made the transition from using mobile devices only for voice communication and text messaging, to relying on their mobile for Web browsing, search, shopping, travel directions, gaming and more – creating a greater and ever-expanding market for advertising dollars.
According to comScore's M:Metrics, mobile browsing grew from 13% to 20% of all U.S.-based mobile users from Q1 2008 to Q1 2009. Razorfish predicts that this trend is only going to increase in 2009, as services and platforms become more advanced (think: your phone is your GPS and your barcode scanner and your nurse and your…). What will these new developments mean for marketers as we try to keep up in the digital whirlwind? And more importantly: how can we add value to our customer's lives through this medium? Let's take a look.
Mobile – and Brands – Are Getting Smarter
More and more brands are starting to catch on to the value of mobile. It is important that brands keep their tactics fresh without losing their brand message: enter the mobile phone application, now the backbone for many mobile phone users. The iPhone App Store alone is offering more than 25,000 applications, and users have downloaded more than 500 million applications. Add to that the expansion of mobile applications designed for Blackberry, Google, and Microsoft platforms, and you witness a significant uptick in third party application development extending mobile applications well beyond the iPhone.
Let's take a look at a few examples of mobile applications that are really turning consumers on – and that have plenty of room for development in the coming year.
Travel and GPS
Wikitude Augmented Reality Travel Guide (on Android G1): Users can search 350,000 points of interest. When a landmark is viewed through the camera, annotations from Wikipedia are overlaid on the landscape image. Sekai Camera on the iPhone is similar, but allows users to tag the real world anywhere and in real time, so they are not limited to data from one source. This technology should be expanding greatly this year. However, a looming question remains: who will have control over the tags – users, brands, reference Web sites or a combination?
Shop Savvy (on Android G1): This shopper-friendly application turns your phone camera into a bar code scanner and provides price comparisons from other nearby stores as well as e-commerce sites. This technology has huge implications as it could potentially revolutionize the retail industry by blurring the line between brick and mortar stores and online retail. And it seems likely that by the time 2009 is over, there will be some form of image recognition functionality that performs a similar task without the need for a bar code.
Mint (on iPhone): This application takes all the helpful elements of mint.com, a comprehensive financial budgeting and monitoring service, and puts it into the palm of your hand. The average American uses 11 different financial institutions, and Mint offers tools for tracking, budgeting and managing all finances from registered accounts in various institutions all in one place, making it more streamlined — and definitely more convenient — for the digital consumer. However, it may be a threat to financial institution retention rates as branded financial institution applications may not be able to match the value of Mint's aggregated information and personalized discount offers.
Mobile Marketing and Significance
Truth be told, the digital consumer is spoiled and has some seriously high expectations for their level of mobile interaction (read: instant information access). They expect that major brands should be there whenever and however they want to access them. The smarter mobile technology gets, the more the consumer will want and expect. Applications like those above not only provide convenience, but also create more relevant and intelligent content, which marketers will need to leverage to keep their brands moving forward and monetize on this platform.
Additionally, the expansion of capabilities within mobile media directly correlates to advertising opportunities,. We predict that mobile advertising, which includes mobile messaging, display and search advertising, will become a larger part of clients' budgets. In fact, the U.S. mobile advertising market is predicted to grow at exponential rates, from $805 million in 2007 to $3.6 billion by 2010, according to like estimates by eMarketer and Nielsen Mobile.
As the mobile channel evolves, marketers who build user-focused mobile programs and ads will be able to transparently serve the consumer. But to achieve success, the mobile Web experience must be a match to the stationary Web experience and must meet all of the consumer's needs and demands. In other words, brands must be consistent with their messages while enhancing the consumer experience. Not easy – but necessary for success.
In order to meet this tall demand, mobile has to position itself as one of the many parts of an integrated, unified marketing program – not as a separate leg, piece, or component of a marketing campaign. Mobile is no longer a "nice to have;" it is a must-have for your digital marketing mix.
This originally appeared in Dave's monthly column in Chief Marketer.