Mobile marketing's awesome potential in 2017 is reinforced with reports like this one: research firm BIA/Kelsey predicts that U.S. mobile-ad spend will exceed $40 billion -- and the industry can expect that number to pass $65 billion by 2020. Last year, mobile digital ad-spend fueled mobile-side growth on a path to outpace desktop ad-spend. Meanwhile, smartphones and tablet devices account for 51.3% of Internet use. By year's end, 75% of online content consumption will be mobile, media buying agency Zenith forecast late last year.
Numbers like these tell the story: for mobile marketing, a moment of transformation is at hand.
This transformation will bring with it the following five trends -- changing how brands and marketers work with each other, with technology and with consumers.
1. Consumers redefine purchase boundaries; mobile marketing, brand partnerships deepen
For the mobile customer, the playing field is wide open, and conversions will increasingly represent a spectrum of in-store, traditional e-commerce, website and mobile combinations. Consumers will expect the continued expansion of reliable in-store Wi-Fi -- allowing them to check stock availability, product information, pricing, available offers and peer reviews via smartphones -- but they will also expect ready access to knowledgeable sales associates. For mobile marketers, this purchase-boundary shift represents a special opportunity to innovate, marrying the best of both the physical and digital worlds. A key challenge emerging from this transformation, however, will be the simultaneous need to optimize and operationalize an overall media mix for brands. Solving for that will depend on the industry strengthening its partnerships and intensifying its commitment to seamless, location-informed, and positive brand experiences … wherever and whenever the consumer engages.
2. Department stores, mobile marketing partners tackle the 'Amazon Effect'
As evidenced by Amazon's recent announcement of its planned Amazon Go pilot store launch in Seattle, the Amazon Effect is set to further solidify as a new normal for retailers and marketers alike. Considering reports of what The Amazon Effect means for department-store brands -- that is, they are likely to feel the deepest impact as the effect drives consumers online and decreases in-store foot traffic -- mobile marketing will have to turn to physical retail with redoubled efforts. As retail implements organizational and process-based strategies in the midst of this industrywide change, mobile marketing will take an increasingly primary role in driving foot traffic and sales for the traditional click-and-mortar retailers.
3. Programmatic accelerates: brands, tech, marketing continue to invest
With shoppers moving further into an always-on lifestyle, retail brands will re-evaluate their traditional marketing-calendar practices and update accordingly, exploring continuous programmatic approaches to creating positive consumer-behavior change over time, rather than delivering episodic campaign executions. This is a critical development given that programmatic direct is projected to surge in 2017. As that happens, mobile marketing can expect to play an increasingly important role around closing talent gaps and solving challenges related to the programmatic knowledge base. There is a lot at stake. Brands are expected to spend more than $20 billion on mobile-programmatic this year.
4. Technology drives measurement, verification advances
In 2017, vendors will continue to earn SDK accreditation and major industry working groups will continue to push for new vendor-tag solutions (open-source and otherwise). Additionally, mobile marketing is poised to meet the coming wave of augmented, virtual, IoT, and natural-interface user experiences. And, given the recently refreshed attention to beacon technology, marketers can expect those devices to take a central position in the conversation this year as well.
5. Next-generation creative, video redefine mobile engagements
New ways of approaching the mobile ad unit will drive a focus on key ideas, such as non-intrusive mobile experiences, dynamically animated and adhesive banners, and ad delivery that dovetails even further with consumers' locations and activities. Mobile video ad-spend is projected to exceed $6 billion by the end of 2017, meaning 2017 will be a prime moment for mobile marketing to capture its share of resulting media allocations.
Consumer behavior will transform the ways the industry approaches mobile experiences. Behind the scenes as well, the technological underpinnings of the industry are advancing by leaps and bounds, demanding that marketers learn more, learn faster and reach farther for campaign strategy, tactics and results. Mobile marketing is taking important steps toward a future it will materially and strategically shape, defining the cutting edge of what the industry can achieve not just this year, in 2017, but for years to come.