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It's Time to Shift the Focus from Mobile to Mobility

Let's Stop Thinking About Mobile Just as a Channel or Tactic and Move on to a Bigger Idea

By Published on . 2

In an industry that's obsessed with tapping into the Zeitgeist, we talk about mobile as though it's the bright and shiny new object in marketing. Are we kidding? This year, smart phone penetration in the United States will hit 80%, tablets will overtake sales of PCs, and already about half of online traffic is taking place on the mobile web. Come on marketers … consumers and manufacturers are way in front of us. Let's kill off talk about developing a mobile plan. Our marketing plan needs to be our mobile plan … and so too do our communications.

It's Mobility, Not Mobile. Mobile is primarily about the devices and platforms, but mobility is a bigger idea. Mobility is very much at the heart of culture right now. It is about fulfilling consumers' desire to stay constantly connected and helping people to get tasks done on the move. Mobility in marketing is going beyond mobile advertising, to adding mobile functionality and targeting across your marketing efforts, such as how Chipotle's mobile app helps to facilitate dining on the go by allowing you to order and pay for your burrito on the way to their restaurant to avoid the wait. Instead of allocating a separate budget to mobile alongside other media channels, we should be applying mobility solutions to our print, video, search, out of home and website. For example, how many of us have plans to add voice navigation to our website? My bet is that consumers are going to respond to added mobility in your marketing programs as they have to mobile devices … super-fast.

All Media is Digital. All Digital is Mobile. Thankfully we rarely separate digital from non-digital media plans anymore. Your digital strategy is your media strategy. In the same way, we have to stop putting mobile in a silo. A number of media companies are leading the way. According to the New York Post, about a third of its audience (print and digital) is coming from mobile devices. Over 65% of Twitter's growing ad revenue comes from mobile ads on smartphones. Little wonder that Instagram, SnapChat, Flipboard and Waze, whose platforms have mobility at the heart of their proposition, were the hottest and fastest growing media this past year. VH-1 showed that it was able to grow its prime-time television viewing audience by 34% by improving the mobility of its shows and content. It made available full episodes through a mobile app, which also included extended content encouraging audiences to share with their social circles.

Mobility is Shifting Hyper-Local to Hyper-Location Marketing. Patch's demise at the hands of AOL was a blow to pundits of hyperlocal. But mobility solutions are creating far more granular targeting and brand engagement. Savvy companies like PlaceIQ and 4info have mapped out the country and can provide location-based marketing (standard and rich media banners as well as video) based on where you go and where you've been. Apple's iBeacon went live early this month in 200 Safeway and Giant Eagle supermarkets and could revolutionize the in-store experience. Using low-frequency Bluetooth technology, it creates GPS-like utility in the store itself that is able to pinpoint to within a few feet a shopper's location through his smartphone and prompt him with special offers as he navigates the store.

Mobility is Fueling Intelligent Marketing. Mobility is paving the way for more intelligent marketing by utilizing the data it collects. FourSquare is somewhat re-inventing itself as a decision-recommendation engine for users and an insight resource for marketers accessing location data they have collected. The Weather Company is using its data to help retailers plan and even forecast sales. For example, based on weather patterns The Weather Channel knows that in Chicago, beer sales increase when summer temperatures are below normal three days in a row, whereas, in Dallas people buy sunscreen and bug spray in the spring when the dew point goes down. Mobility could inform an entire marketing communication strategy.

Mobility isn't about what's happening with devices and setting aside budgets for mobile advertising, but how you bridge mobile to real-world marketing. Exciting times ahead.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Antony Young is president of Water Cooler Group, an independent brand media communications agency, and author of "Brand Media Strategy," a Palgrave MacMillan and Advertising Age publication offering strategies on communications planning in the Google and Facebook era.
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