Since 2007, my measurable marketing agency, Anvil, has been claiming the ‘Year of Mobile’ is upon us in our annual predictions. While we may have been a bit ambitious in our timing, mobile is now integrated into the marketing mix. Most brands are at least thinking about where mobile plays in the overall marketing mix, if not developing mobile-first campaigns. Here are a few compelling statistics regarding the immense impact mobile is making on the marketing mix:
- By the end of the year, 75 percent of online content consumption will be via mobile device.
- 36 percent of Americans now simultaneously connect via multiple devices.
- 86 percent of respondents say it’s important to create a cohesive customer journey and mobile apps, per the Salesforce Marketing Cloud State of Marketing report.
As I originally outlined in a 2012 article, Mobilizing Your Marketing is now table stakes, but there are a host of new trends that are redefining mobile marketing. I’ve outlined eleven trends in mobile your brand must consider when implementing or refining a mobile-friendly marketing program.
Searches originating from mobile devices continue to grow exponentially. Thanks to rapid adoption of Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, Apple Siri and Google Home, voice search will continue to increase in popularity. Amazon recently announced Alexa now has 15,000 skills. Per recent research, 49 percent of US respondents used their voice assistants on a weekly basis, compared with 31percent of global respondents. Interestingly, 57 percent would use voice search more if it recognized more complex commands. The good news is that each of the platform providers continues to increase the number of voice commands by thousands at a time. More than 20 percent of current searches on Android devices are voice searches. This trend directly impacts search engine optimization and paid search, as both need to create voice-search-related initiatives to maintain a competitive edge. The first step is to optimize your website for long-tail search terms more common with voice-based searches. Similarly, paid search campaigns should target similar terms with mobile-optimized ads. On the web design side, leveraging Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) technology has shown to increase click-through-rates by up to 90 percent. Mobile searchers also spend 35 percent more time with AMP content than dedicated mobile web pages.
Location-based Marketing (LBM)
When Foursquare launched in 2009, the future looked bright for location-based marketing (LBM). For at least a year or two, mobile users were obsessed with “checking in” at local businesses via Foursquare or Facebook. While Foursquare may have gone the way of Groupon (still alive but not exactly an Internet darling), LBM is still a thing. Key components of LBM include near field communications (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), wi-fi, geo-fencing, beaconing and local listings. Last year, beacon messages generated $44 billion in US retail sales. Nearly 80 percent of social media interactions now occur on mobile devices, which include location-based platforms. While most consumers aren’t familiar with NFC technology, it is the missing link between location-based marketing and sales, as Apple Pay, Google Wallet and other payment technologies rely on NFC. With greater support, this year from Apple, expect a much greater adoption of mobile wallet usage. Beyond leveraging RFID and beaconing to target in-store shoppers with unique messages, brands must embrace responsive-design for websites and proactive management of local business directory listings (Google My Business) and social platforms (Yelp!), including associated ratings and reviews, to ensure a holistic view of your customer journey.
2017 is a special year for advertising, as it marks the first time in history that the total digital ad spend will surpass television ad spend. This year also provides a perfect storm of evolving ad options for mobile, with programmatic, video, and native advertising. eMarketer recently reported that video ad spending for mobile will cross $6 billion in 2017, which is a 32 percent increase from 2016, according to another report. Within mobile advertising, programmatic is expected to provide a major opportunity for advertisers. Brands are expected to spend more than $20 billion on mobile-programmatic in 2017. Within mobile, video programmatic marketing will account for 28 percent of total spend by 2019. The third key trend in mobile advertising will be native advertising, which is expected to make up 63 percent of mobile display ad spend by 2020. Mobile advertising has clearly evolved from simple network and in-app display ad options to today’s options across programmatic, video, and native formats. Ensure your mobile advertising factors in these evolving technologies and trends to maximize ROI for your brand.
Oculus Rift recently announced the ability to record real-world content and incorporate it into the virtual reality (VR) experience. Known as mixed reality, the new functionality allows developers to bring video recordings from the real world into the game/VR environment. This is an evolution from the other side of the spectrum, known as augmented reality (AR), where virtual elements are overlaid into the real world environments (ala Google Glass and Spectacles by Snap Inc.). According to Forbes, augmented reality technology will be a $5.7 billion industry by 2021. By comparison, global brands ranging from Coca-Cola and Ocean Spray to IKEA and Volvo have bet big on VR, creating immersive experiences to help sell kitchen remodels, beverages and SUVs. Mobile devices are ground zero for the AR/VR experiences, as they are ubiquitous, powerful and highly personal devices. Google, Facebook, Samsung and Apple have all invested in VR technology, making it more affordable, accessible and engaging than ever. In the next 3 years, brands of all sizes and shapes should have some sort of AR/VR element to their advertising.
Over the past decade, mobile devices have dramatically changed how we consume video. According to HubSpot, video is the most popular content format online. Video is viral as well: 92 percent of mobile video consumers share videos with others. In 2015, Flurry found that U.S. consumers spent more time on apps than watching television. Research also shows that younger consumers are less interested in watching TV, preferring free or low-cost online video-streaming services. Cable and satellite subscribers also tend to multi-task on a second screen when watching TV, usually a mobile device. YouTube and Facebook dominate mobile video consumption currently, which means brands must be actively creating and sponsoring content on those platforms. 360 video is growing in popularity, particularly on Facebook. Investing in 360 video, including live-streaming can be costly and intimidating. For this reason, YouTube recently announced its VR180 initiative. According to recent Google research, 75 percent of 360-degree video users only look at the quadrant in front of them when the video starts. With current 360 video offerings being largely under-utilized, grainy and unintuitive, 180 degree video offers a viable compromise for brands, as the same 4K resolution is condensed into half the viewing space, resulting in a sharper picture. With increased video consumption comes advertising opportunities. Mobile video ad spend is projected to exceed $6 billion by the end of 2017. That means brands can buy into the conversation without committing significant resources to production.
The trend has been clear the past few years: mobile device owners are downloading fewer apps, which creates challenges for brands looking to create their own dedicated mobile experience. Conversely, consumers are spending more time on mobile devices, which means more time on fewer apps. Nearly 80 percent of mobile users globally have downloaded messaging apps (including WhatsApp, TextNow, Facebook Messenger, Line and Viber), and that market continues to expand. Brands that embrace artificial intelligence (AI) based chatbots to connect with consumers are taking a leadership role. The benefit of tapping messaging apps is that they shorten the sales funnel by understanding the context of conversations and feeding relevant information in return. The rise of in-app chatbots from the likes of 1-800-Flowers, Uber and Dominos validates further investment in the sector, particularly for customer service. More importantly, messaging apps are getting closer to commerce. Messaging app Kik, with more than 300 million registered users, recently announced its own digital currency, Kin, which can be used globally to buy and sell goods. The opportunity for brands to create contextually-relevant conversations with a layer of commerce on top of it provides new ways to mitigate otherwise challenging mobile usage trends.
Who doesn’t like shopping? According to multiple sources, not very many US-based digital consumers. In fact, 51 percent of Americans prefer to shop online. According to comScore, mobile ecommerce growth outpaced that of desktop e-commerce in the last quarter of 2016, growing 45 percent year-over-year (to $22.7 billion). 2017 looks to continue the trend, as Internet Retailer reports mobile commerce sales will top 30 percent for the first time. A ReadyCloud report found that 44 percent of retail internet minutes were spent on smartphones. That translates to roughly $2 billion in US mobile commerce, according to Invesp. Mobile devices make shopping a whim, with 20 percent of Americans having purchased from the bathroom or while in the car. Social media plays an important role in mobile commerce, with 30 percent of online shoppers say they would purchase from a social media network. The most influential social platforms include Facebook, accounting for 38 percent of all e-commerce referrals. Pinterest comes in second at 29 percent and Twitter in third place with 22 percent of referrals. The bottom line: mobile devices make shopping as easy as a single click (patented by Amazon) and consumer brands need to adjust marketing and commerce initiatives accordingly.
Big Data Insights
Since Big Data came on the technology scene five years ago, marketers have latched onto the term and its implied potential. The reason is that we know information is power, and we are surrounded by information. There are currently 2.7 Zettabytes of data in the digital universe today, and growing rapidly. More than 5 billion people are calling, texting, tweeting, and browsing on mobile phones worldwide (don’t look for that number to shrink either, as Facebook recently ran a successful test of it’s solar-powered drone designed to stay airborne for years to provide internet access to remote areas of the world). Speaking of Facebook, users upload 100 terabytes of data daily to its platform. To give you a sense of scope, 1.8 Zettabytes of data was created in 2011 alone, which equates to more than 200 billion HD movies, which would take you 47 million years to view. Most alarmingly, the volume of business data worldwide, across all companies, doubles every 1.2 years. These numbers translate into opportunities, and Wikibon estimates that big data will be a $50 billion business this year. With all of the interest in big data, it may come as a surprise that far too many companies are not leveraging the opportunity as of yet. The DMA recently reported that up to 70% of companies are not collecting user content data from social media alone. Thankfully, a host of marketing technology (martech) vendors are providing solutions for big data capture and analysis.
Internet of Things
One area likely to contribute significantly to the big data vortex is the Internet of Things (IoT). Particularly relevant to the mobile marketplace, IoT offers brands an opportunity to gain insights into consumer behavior, as well as gain data-driven insights directly from smart products in and outside the home. Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 8.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2017, up 31 percent from 2016. It’s expected that there will be more than 30 billion connected devices in 2020 and 75 billion by 2025. In 2016, global spending on IoT across markets was $737 billion. IDC predicts that by 2020, this number will reach $1.29 trillion. With unprecedented potential to collect and analyze massive amounts of data from mobile and Internet-connected devices, marketers must be diligent in researching and adopting martech solutions to gain insights into current and potential markets and customers.
Seasoned digital marketers may feel this article provides little more than validation. If you are one of those people, then this trend is for you. Living in the mobile Valhalla that is Portland, I’m sometimes privy to bleeding edge technology and trends. While we’re all familiar with mobile wallets, which provide convenient and secure payment options, you may not be aware of the potential power of mobile wallets for marketing. Mobile wallets can provide “passes” which are non-payment related, but can be transactional content, including loyalty cards, coupons, event tickets and ID cards. Certain types of brands are natural fits for mobile wallet marketing opportunities, including restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, sports teams and venues. Unlike paper or plastic alternatives, mobile wallet passes can be updated remotely and seamlessly. This is particularly powerful for couponing, where promotions expire regularly. A few examples of mobile wallet passes in-action include WeChat’s social gifting, Alipay’s augmented reality coupons and PayPal’s “stores nearby” and “order ahead” functionality, which is designed to drive more traffic to physical retail stores.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on mobile applications, and how they’ve evolved over the past five years. As I mentioned earlier, mobile users are downloading fewer apps but using them more frequently than ever. Research shows that only 6 percent of people use an app after thirty days and five out of ten apps are used only ten times, according to the Adobe Digital Insights Mobile Benchmark Report. The same report indicates that app launches grew 24 percent year-over-year in 2016, but app installs only grew six percent. Despite the challenges, it’s expected that there will be 197 billion mobile app downloads in 2017, and mobile app revenue is predicted to reach $77 billion this year. Perhaps the most intriguing new trend in the world of mobile apps is Android Instant Apps (AIA), which work without installation. Announced at Google I/O in 2016, AIA are now available to developers. AIA offers a way for brands to distribute lightweight versions of Android apps without requiring a visit to the Play Store for a download. Users click on a link in the web browser and are able to get the nearly-full app experience, while circumventing some of the most concerning statistics regarding download and usage rates.
Regardless of your marketing objectives, target audiences, budgets, and available resources, there are at least ten emerging trends to consider when developing a mobile marketing strategy. Ensure you’ve factored in each of the above mobile factors into your mix to ensure your marketing efforts are exponentially more impactful moving forward.
Kent Lewis is President & Founder of Anvil Media, Inc., a digital marketing agency specializing in search engine, social media and mobile marketing for clients worldwide. Based in Portland, Anvil was founded in 2000 and services over 50 clients. For more information, visit www.anvilmediainc.com.