07 October 2014

Mobile Devices Are a Way for Consumers to Reach Brands -- Not for Brands to Reach Consumers

Here's something advertisers and agencies seem slow to understand:  Mobile devices are not a way for brands to reach consumers; they're a way for consumers to reach brands.

Consider that the mobile device — the smartphone especially — is a very private zone in a person's life.  They don't necessarily want ads of any kind invading that personal space.

But the smartphone is wonderful tool for consumers to invade your space as a marketer.  Via Internet searches, shopping apps, social media and conversations with friends, they do it whether you invite them or not.

So why not invite them?

Use Mobile to Invite Customers and Prospects

Customers and prospects can contact you via certain smartphone apps.  The most-maligned is QR codes.  In the picture below is a QR code I saw this past weekend on the back of a service vehicle in Chicago.  I can't think of any better example of consumer-UNfriendly QR codes than this photo from WTF QR Codes which also sums up why I avoid them.

Not much of
an invitation
At the other end of the customer convenience spectrum is Messaging — SMS, MMS, P2P and other emerging tools.  Most of these are built in to a smartphone and very familiar, but there are also newer apps like Kik that would be handy reaching a younger audience (like Ad Majorem's teenage children).

There's also social media, of course, but only invite people to "Follow Us On Twitter!" if there's a darn good reason.

If you are extending an invitation to consumers at retail, it may be time to look again at NFC.  Could it be coming back thanks to the iPhone 6?  I've been bullish on NFC ever since my first project back in 2012 but it's been traveling a stubbornly slow adoption curve.

Ask for an R.S.V.P.

Sorry to torture the "invitation" metaphor a bit, but using "R.S.V.P." as an abbreviation, here are some principles to keep in mind:
  • Response is the goal.  You're not going to rack up millions of "impressions" via Mobile (you might) but you may invite millions of customer interactions.  In other words, the quality of your audience, not the quantity, is what matters.  Think app dowloads, not ads served.
  • Start with your consumer.  When and where might they be looking for something useful, informative or entertaining?  That's your chance to engage.  This Forrester video describes how American Airlines designed their mobile app around their customers' travel experience.
  • Voice must be …inviting.  This past year during a radio interview, a local political candidate invited people to text him for more information — which I did, only to get an auto-reply asking for donations.  Since when do you invite people over and then ask them to pay?

01 October 2014

Tablets Are Not "Mobile". They're "Portable"

This has been bugging me for a while.

Tablets — be it the iPad, the Kindle, the Galaxy or anything with a capacitive touchscreen larger than a Pop Tart — should not be considered mobile devices, like smartphones.

Consumer behavior proves it

All Mobile is Portable but
Not All Portable is Mobile
Sure, tablets and smartphones both run on the same "mobile" operating systems like iOS or Android, but people use them differently.  For example, people report accessing the Internet in their living rooms on both tablets (72%) and smartphones (67%), but in out of home situations, the numbers are quite different.  On the daily commute, for example, 49% use their smartphones and only 9% use their tablets.  In Stores, 75% use their smartphones and very few use their tablets.  (All of this research comes from a 2013 Forrester study; see a nice summary here.)

Why does this matter?  Follow the Money

Likewise, not all mobile ad spending is created equal.  When you hear things like "Mobile advertising spend will be about $18 Billion globally in 2014" you need to think beyond tiny, unreadable banner ads on a smartphone.  Those big numbers also include banner ads and video pre-roll that are better seen on a tablet.  That $18 Billion also includes a lot of Paid Search, which is a natural ad medium on the tablet, and a lot of Messaging, which is a natural ad medium on the smartphone.

Google Agrees:  Tablets Are Not "Mobile"  

In an SEC filing last January, Google admitted that as tablets became more ubiquitous, "their usage had much more in common with desktops than with handsets".  Going further, they said "the meaning of 'mobile' at Google has shifted dramatically to 'handset' from 'tablet + handset'."  Why tell the SEC?  Because it affects how they report their very considerable ad revenue.  It also affects how they might collect revenue in the future:  This was the same SEC filing that grabbed headlines like "Google Will Advertise on Thermostats".  So the definition of "Mobile" also matters to Google, but it goes way beyond tablets to the so-called Internet of Things, or in Google's case, the Internet of Things That Collect Ad Revenue.

God bless them.  As long as they start referring to tablets as "portable" devices.