Engaging the ‘Mobile-first’ Consumer: New Opportunities

Filed in Mobile Engagement, Mobile Marketing by on September 23, 2016 0 Comments

This article originally appeared in Marketing Tech and is republished here with permission.

Mary Meeker’s recently published internet trends report has become a kind of annual event for the tech industry. Meeker’s snapshot of the latest data on the digital economy offers invaluable insight on where the internet and related technologies are now and where they’re going. And, as usual, this year’s report uncovers some compelling opportunities for mobile, especially mobile engagement.

Notably, among the more interesting findings is that there is a huge unmet opportunity for mobile marketing. Mobile ads grew by 66 percent from 2014, compared to just 5 percent for desktop ads, and the mobile ad market in the U.S. is now estimated at $22 billion, based on data that shows people spending 25 percent of their time on mobile devices. However, spending on mobile ads still only accounts for 12 percent of the advertising pie.

This discrepancy points to a tremendous opportunity for mobile marketing and, consequently, mobile engagement. But to be able to seize this opportunity, first we have to understand the rise of a new mindset among mobile consumers.

“Mobile-First”
It’s helpful to take a step back to first consider one broader theme that has been emerging in the Meeker report over the last few years. Specifically, this is the rise of the “mobile-first” mindset – the increasing lifestyle trend in which people turn to their mobile device as their first point of interaction for most of their communication, information and entertainment needs.

The mobile-first mindset is the result of the way that our mobile devices have evolved into true supercomputers that are so valuable that we keep them within reach at all times now, everywhere we go. Our devices have given us amazing power to interact with our favorite people, brands and service providers in personalized ways, and to get what we want, when we want it. We’ve made our device our go-to medium to satisfy our every need – first above all other media – and we’ve become increasingly more savvy and discriminating mobile users as a result.

Ad Blocking
With this mobile-first concept in mind, a critical challenge with the mobile marketing opportunity uncovered in the Meeker report is the rise of ad blocking. Consider that today one in five smartphone users, or almost 420 million people worldwide, block advertising when browsing the web on mobile phones, a 90 percent annual increase, according to PageFair and Priori Data. And in some major markets, ad blocking has a huge potential to take off since, in the U.S. for example, only 4.3 million people, or 2 percent of smartphone owners, currently use ad blocking. In this way, today’s mobile-first consumers have a powerful weapon at hand if they decide that ads directed to them aren’t relevant.

As a result, while the Meeker report reveals a mobile advertising underinvestment, the first step in taking advantage of this opportunity will be delivering more relevant and compelling messages. As my colleague Rob Hammond has written, ad blocking represents “a consumer’s reaction to the ‘spike strips’ that have broken the customer experience,” and it’s therefore vital that marketers create experiences that delight customers by better anticipating the needs on their journey.

Marketing to Engagement
This need to create more relevant experiences ties in to a second component of the ad-blocking challenge – moving from marketing to engagement. A crucial part of acting on the mobile advertising underinvestment from the Meeker report will require marketers to accelerate their evolution from pushing generic mass messages. Instead, marketers must find ways to better engage increasingly discriminating mobile-first consumers with more personalized experiences so that these consumers have less incentive to turn to ad blocking.

One key to this lies in the use of a customer’s actual context information, such as location or purchasing history, to more precisely hone messages and cater to specific customer needs. Mobile context enables this by allowing companies – with the explicit opt-in of mobile users – to gain insight into consumers’ preferences, and then act on this data to personalize services. These preferences can include everything from where they like to go to what kinds of products they like to buy. Retail companies have been early adopters in using mobile context for notifications for special sales, coupons, and loyalty program rewards, but now all mobile marketers must embrace this asset to better connect to mobile-first consumers in an age of ad blocking.

The Meeker Report reveals a sizable gap between the size of the mobile advertising market today and the amount that brands are spending in this area. But to tap this opportunity, mobile marketers must define a strategy for overcoming ad blocking and better engaging with today’s mobile-first consumer.

 

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Mary Clark is a former Chief Corporate Relations Officer and Chief of Staff at Syniverse.

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