We have seen the last several years in advertising being dubbed the ‘year of Mobile’. For whatever reason, the reality has not lived up to the hype leaving both advertisers and Mobile users a little deflated at the industry’s inability to climb to the highest peak it continually sets. So, as we approach a new year, rumours are bubbling away about what 2013 will bring with regards to Mobile. Nobody, as yet, is willing to put their neck on the block and declare to the masses that 2013 WILL be, at last, Mobile’s year, but it is worth a look, to establish what we might see.
On paper, at least, there are enough upwardly moving trends to satisfy one’s demand to claim 2013 as Mobile’s year. Next year, predictions see half of all mobile phones will be smart phones, Facebook will see an exponential growth in the number of users who login via Mobile devices, and augmented reality, video and the alignment of social features alongside digital campaigns will continuously enhance Mobile’s usability. However, to judge something purely based on numbers is to misinterpret the Mobile medium and to underestimate how established this channel really is, particularly from an advertiser’s perspective. Simply put, there is still a huge amount of work to do to ensure mobile can live up to its hype as a strong medium for advertising.
As far as I can see, Mobile has two options. This first will see Mobile advertising providers enhancing their services in-house to provide one simple, yet vital, capability: measurement. By improving and standardising current measurement metrics, it will allow advertisers to effectively plan a campaign having built a deeper understanding of its audience and their behaviours on Mobile. This, in turn, can enable these same advertisers to measure the effectiveness of a campaign. Of course, a lot of this depends upon data collection and ‘the future of the cookie’ being discussed in the higher echelons of the IAB. Any developments here will be fundamental to the success of future advertising campaigns.
The second option is in marked contrast to the ‘war of attrition’ model above. Rather than developing capabilities ‘in-house’, the second option is much more out-looking in its approach and will take on the look of an ‘arms race’ to achieve better forms of measurement. Mobile companies will look to merge, buyout or takeover their competitors, and their technologies, building an armoury which, they hope, will revolutionise their Mobile offering, taking the best elements of each, offering them together in one service. This more aggressive approach will see smaller players at risk, particularly those without a global presence or without Rich Media capabilities.
In all likelihood, 2013 will trace a path somewhere between these two scenarios. Sometimes it will be aggressive, whereas other times, it will be more considerate and controlled in its approach. Either way, the result will be the same. 2013 will not be the year of mobile. Instead, we should refer to 2013 as the ‘Year of Consolidation’. 2013 will, in short, develop the Mobile ecosystem to a point where advertisers can rely upon better forms of measurement that will inform more successful Mobile campaigns. It is only once this structure has become established, that advertisers can even begin to think about ‘the year of mobile’, whatever this definition may turn out to be.
A bit of a boring conclusion? Perhaps, but the point here is not to undermine the importance of Mobile, but give scope and understanding to its position in the marketing mix. Mobile is undoubtedly a key component of a digital media strategy. Omitting this medium from a plan will only limit your capabilities of reaching a key audience. Your target market is going Mobile and you have to go with them or you risk being outmanoeuvred by competitors as they capitalise on your lack of mobile presence. That users are now consuming more and more internet content on their phones should be argument enough for action. As Mobile consolidates itself from a technical perspective, so too must advertisers consolidate their own presence, to position themselves unequivocally at the crest of the mobile wave that is soon to be sweeping all before it in the digital space.