2014 – The Real Year of Mobile

Lorna Gill Posted by Lorna Gill

As we reflect on industry predictions for mobile marketing in 2014, we consider the impact mobile has had so far this year.

The year of mobile. That’s what 2014 was dubbed by a host of businesses and analysts as last year turned into this one.

In April, Scott Schmidt for Mobile Marketing Global referred to the current year as, “a tipping year for brands and agencies to finally, seriously start thinking about mobile in their marketing strategy.”

For those in the know, the timing of this boom should come as no surprise; relatively speaking, mobile marketing is in its infancy. As noted by Brandon Olson at AWeber, two-thirds of businesses are using mobile marketing in some way. Furthermore, most of them have been doing it “for less than a year.”

Mobile marketing is undoubtedly prompting businesses to step into unchartered territory; the three major challenges reported among businesses surveyed towards the end of last year were time, money and know-how. Yet undeniably, it has become a major shaping force across virtually every industry.

Let’s take a look at how mobile marketing is shaping the business world of 2014.

The Basics

Perhaps obviously, the number one form of mobile marketing is a mobile site. Olson offers businesses some sound advice, published alongside the results of AWeber’s survey. If ever involved in a toss-up between launching a site optimised for mobile users or launching an app, always choose the mobile site: “Most users will look for your website before seeing your app.”

Of course, in today’s forward-thinking business world, companies are increasingly reliant on both, depending on how appropriate they are as tools to both the industry and services provided. Olson also advises that business websites and email should be developed to be responsive, which “adjust naturally to a user’s screen size.”

We can see these advances coming into play all around us. Mobile optimisation and apps are in fact so commonplace, that they can no longer be termed ‘trends’.

Gamification

As highlighted by Jennifer Lonoff Schiff for Computer World, Jason Ginsburg, director of Interactive Branding at Brandemix, predicted an increased use of gamification this year in terms of mobile advertising: “more mobile ads, whether in browsers or apps, will use gamification to compel users to click on them.”

This certainly seems to be true as more and more companies are introducing elements of gamification into their advertising. US sandwich chain Quiznos recently launched the “Feed Us, Quiznos!” campaign, whereby hungry office workers could compete via a mobile trivia quiz in order to win a catered lunch.

Mobile games, when paired with rewards, are proving extremely popular. As Ginsburg discerns, people are competitive by nature and can’t get enough of “acquiring points or badges, unlocking content and competing with friends.”

Mobile Ads

In his predictions for Mobile Marketing Global, Schmidt points out that in the past, “Mobile in general has been the little child of desktop in terms of creativity.” He goes on to say, “The rage is all about native units in 2014, which allows brands to simply embed their message into a publisher’s site/app and match the look and feel of a publisher without being intrusive.”

The idea that ads should be looking more organic and part of the site on which they appear is interesting; ads have long been a source of distraction, standing out in stark contrast to the site on which they appear. So how are ads looking so far this year?

Additionally, 2014 has seen the popularity of Mobile PPC campaigns soar. In the first quarter of 2014, mobile PPC campaigns accounted for 28% of the US’s ad spend according to eConsultancy and analysts are predicting that the trend for buying mobile PPC will outstrip that of desktop in the coming years.

Sponsorships

According to Schmidt, businesses are looking more and more at the prospect of getting behind apps as sponsors. His prediction for 2014? That “brands will begin to understand the value of aligning with already established players in the mobile space to increase their likeability.”

Brands which have sponsored a mobile app in the past include Cartier, Marriott and Subway. In terms of positive investment, he uses the example of a sports app.

This football season saw electronic games company EA Sports sponsoring the Premier League Fantasy Football app. Much like social media, users who fall within the right demographic open such apps extremely frequently.

Chantal Tode of Mobile Marketer observes that such brands “hope to associate themselves with the positive app experiences consumers are having as a way to drive brand awareness and purchase intent.” Sponsorship certainly seems to be the next big thing for companies wanting to get their message in front of a targeted audience.

Getting Personal

Last year, Steve Cole, CMO of Gladson (a company concerned with product images and product services) predicted one particular trend expected to develop at a high rate in 2014—increased personalisation and customisation of messages.

This represents the idea that marketers should use mobile platforms to present users with highly personalised offers in order to “convert searchers into buyers”, as explained by Lonoff Schiff.

For businesses and consumers alike this sounds like a convenient dream, but what is the reality at this midway point in 2014?

According to Marketing Charts, A survey carried out by Yahoo in June of 6,000 respondents aged 13-64 found personalised mobile ads to be going from strength to strength in terms of how they are perceived by the public as a marketing strategy, “many consumers find personalised ads to be more engaging (54%), educational (52%), time-saving (49%) and memorable (45%).”

Daniel Knowles for Business News Daily writes that advances in data analysis are allowing retailers more and more to, “predict the buying habits of consumers before the actual purchase is made.” Clearly the market is responding well to personalised ads in 2014 and they are continuing to have a big impact.

Wearables

It is worth mentioning that in 2014, mobile advertising does not refer exclusively to mobile phones. This is proving to be the year where advertising finally finds its way beyond the four usual screens (TV, PC, tablet, smartphone) and out into other areas of our lives.

Advertising can now be found on wearables such as watches and Google Glass, in hotel lifts and even on screens in taxis.

In the company’s “Digital & Media Predictions 2014” Catie Williams for Millward Brown even spoke about “clothing woven with flexible LED thread” and “LED-covered taxis that geo-locate to deliver messages relevant to theneighbourhood it is passing through.”

While such marvels have yet to materialise, the future is undeniably here and wearables are the next big thing in advertising and propelling the customer through their experience. Google Glass has been winning the public over with its heart-warming ads and has already been implemented among Virgin Atlantic staff at Heathrow airports.

Excitingly, the artificial-intelligence style technology behind the device is currently being used in creating autonomous vehicles.

Location, Location, Location

Location-based trends were also a hot topic among analysts in 2013. According to CIO, Stacey Tozer, marketing director for MappedIn, spoke to Lonoff Schiff of an increased need for businesses to target consumers with the products and information relevant to their location.

Indeed, Location-Based Marketing (or Geo-Targeting as it is also known) seemed to be a high priority for analysts last year. Atri Chatterjee, CMO of Act-On Software spoke to her of the increased benefits of real-time marketing as related to GPS location. According to Chatterjee, this would include more micro-location based marketing, meaning that when a potential consumer enters a store they could be targeted with a series of relevant offers.

Other aspects of such developments include increased availability of features such as “find in store” and “check store inventory” buttons. So how are we getting on with Geo-Targeting in 2014?

In June, AXA achieved great success using data obtained from EE on outdoor smartphone usage to micro-target ads at potential consumers, while in July, one of the original players in location-relevant advertising launched the redesign of its “not-so-popular standalone check-in app.”

Swarm, the successor to FourSquare, has been launched as an app which integrates both social media trends and the location based check-ins, offers and leader boards, which originally made FourSquare popular.

So, in conclusion, 2014 has seen mobile continuing to exceed our expectations in marketing in industries because, as Aaron Strout notes for Marketing Land, “It’s hard not to see its fingerprint on anything and everything that we marketers touch.”

(Image credit: Ed Yourdon/ Flickr)

About the author

Lorna Gill
Lorna Gill
Lorna is responsible for acquisition marketing at Adthena, communicating their award-winning product and generating demand. She has developed her career in fast-paced, start-up environments, including two tech track 100 companies and is passionate about translating technical information into stories that excite and delight.