Mobile is not a media platform, it's
a communications device.
It is a means for people to exchange
ideas and build relationships, quite the opposite of a
one-directional content distribution system.
The traditional advertising and media
landscape is, as suggested by Kevin Slavin, MD at Area/code, "a
competition of stories", where the editorial content of one media
channel is forced to compete against the content of others. When a
brand's advertising enters the mix, three, four or five stories can
compete for the same attention. This has led to an enormous focus
on attention strategy, where a lot of the investment goes into
getting noticed. However, for this attention to be worthwhile, it
needs to be earned, not just grabbed.
As C2C and personal devices become
more and more prominent for marketers, it's important to take
notice; as consumers we share information because it's valuable,
not simply because we are aware of it. This is the starting point
from which we need to rethink mobile strategy. But to create
shareable value, how should our strategies change and what should
we be thinking about? We need a new mindset. The following list
suggests twelve ways in which can rethink our approach for future
mobile platforms. Hopefully one or more of them can ignite the
imagination and new ideas.
1. Every day life
The PC is inaccessible in almost all
situations where the brand is relevant. Technology is everywhere;
it has become both ubiquitous and invisible and allows us to place
our marketing initiatives within easy reach of the participants
every hour of the waking day.
But companies often fail to maximise
the opportunities available, using por table devices as tools to
fill the available spaces inside the lives of consumers with
What we really need to understand is
that even though people are technologically available, it doesn't
mean they are behaviourally available. As marketing moves from the
battle of stories (in media) to everyday life, it turns from
thinking about short-sighted attention strategies to long-term
We are moving away from
attention-grabbing and towards value, from time being a cost, to
time being an opportunity, from campaigns to relationships.
The graphical user interface (GUI) has
to be designed to invite people in, and facilitate the activity.
The GUi has to be designed to invite people in and facilitate the
Behavioral Psychologist Donald norman
has been quoted as saying:"Each time a new technology comes along,
new designers make the same horrible mistakes as their
predecessors. Technologists are not noted for learning the errors
of the past. hey look forward, not back, so they repeat the same
problems over and over again."
When it comes to design for
interactive platforms, it seems that the knowledge from existing
design practices has been overlooked in favour of designing
interfaces that ease the technological development budget, rather
than accommodate the human mind.
This is certainly true when it comes
to mobile, with devastating effects when it comes to engaging the
mobile user. Algorithmic logic and robotic rationality seem to
shape the reasoning behind the interfaces trying to engage people
in services, content and marketing.
Luckily there are exceptions.
Companies like TAT from Sweden have been exploring mobile design
for years, and whilst not every project has been a commercial
success, it seems that they are creating valuable insights that
will to lead to more dynamic, desirable and effective solutions.
Design is for humans, not robots, and it should force technology to
adapt and evolve, not the other way around.
Never underestimate the power of
There is a common misconception in
participatory culture that content equals participation. This is
fundamentally wrong. Inviting people in to register and submit
content, gives no reason for return visits, and no reason for
active collaboration over time.
There are clear guidelines and
suggestions as to what creates a liveable, breathable community. it
has little to do with the gathering of content and more to do with
the lubrication of the exchange of ideas through mechanics and
One of the more effective ones is the
application of gaming concepts. not necessarily games themselves,
but embedding mechanics or dynamics from gaming culture into the
functionality of the application in order to enhance exploration
This applies to our instinctive human
curiosity, regarding understanding how things work, and our
competitiveness, which is embedded deep within the human mind.
Adding a bit of the gaming mindset to
an otherwise tedious task can both liven up your existing
audiences, and also open up new models for participation and
collaboration that dramatically increases engagement with the
Mobile is always just one part of a
larger interconnected ecosystem.
Digital is not a silo; it's an
ecosystem of activities. it engages people on a range of platforms;
depending on context and availability, and connects these
interactions into one coherent, synchronous universe. it is only
people building content for platforms who think about platforms.
Customers think about experiences.
Mobile is a trigger, a lead generator,
a remote, a sensor or a recording device. By using its capacity to
be everywhere anytime; you can create relevance for the brand and
value for the participant. But mobile has clear limitations, both
due to limited interaction abilities, limited bandwidth (at
present), and limited processing strength.
As marketing campaigns now utilise
numerous formats and activities, it is clear that one platform
alone cannot do everything. Mobile has clear and definite abilities
that can be rivalled by no other platform. Using mobile for these
specifi c operations puts it to work doing what it does best.
5. Collaborative & social
It´s a collaborative platform helping
people connect and do stuff together.
It is interesting to note that before
we put computers into telephones, they were purely collaborative
devices - it's almost as if, by introducing technology, the
telephone has tuned into an anti-social device.
People belong to networks, and
enabling these groups through the exchange of ideas is one of the
most important abilities of the digital/real world.
The mobile is essential to this, and
has historically been a great socialising device, strengthening our
connections with friends and family.
The mobile platform expands our
present notion of the telephone into something more like a
super-communications device, with strengths in all dimensions of
communication. This means that whereas most applications today are
inherently unsocial and database-driven, we are only at the start
of a new learning curve; soon it will be the exception when
applications or abilities remain individual.
Adding value to the situation where
the product is valuable and the brand meaningful. The difference
between traditional advertising and new marketing can be summarised
in two sentences:
- Traditional advertising is all about
affecting our anticipation of an experience outside of the
experience itself, in order to change or manipulate the evaluation
of the experience after it has happened.
- New marketing is about adding value
inside the experience itself.
Traditional advertising proves to be
complex and costly. This is because our ability to reach out and
talk to people is to a large extent limited to media, consumed in
specific contexts, unrelated to the communicated products or
brands. But technology has changed; it has become ubiquitous and
invisible. This means that people and participants can access our
marketing all the time. But why would they want to access it?
Context is about understanding the
situation where the product is relevant. it is about understanding
that product design is about identifying the features of a
situation and adding value to it through a specifi c product.
Service design is similar. You must understand the context
surrounding the product and then design services that create
additional value inside this context. By doing this you will create
a more unique brand experience, rendering the product
Digital services are now a part of the
product development process as they can offer unique experiences
and value to an otherwise ordinary product.
The mobile is just the thing stuff
Already we are seeing our everyday
objects being upgraded to include some form of 'intelligence', able
to communicate with us and enforcing its utility.
What we as marketers need to
understand is that mobile strategy is not about being accessible
through an application on the phone, it is increasingly about
helping people connect to stuff in the real world.
A quote by kevin Slavin explains it:
"Mobile is just a reference to an ecosystem that phones are a part
In his talk at Webstock in 2009, Matt
Jones, an expert in interaction design, referenced the future of
smart objects: "now, hackers are building sensors, bots and
software into everything around them, bottom up, fast, cheap and
out of control. They are creating environments that react, adapt
and respond to us - and perhaps, more importantly - each
This is a reference to a future
already here, where objects gain a level of intelligence, being
connected and in a dialogue with their surroundings. And in this
world mobile will be the interface, receiving their feedback,
communicating with them and enabling us to control them.
8. Value chain
Tracing participant action from A to
A sale is the result of a chain of
events happening in mostly random order from the time when a
customer first shows interest in a product to its final purchase.
Digital has a clear role in this process but often fails to prove
its direct effect on sales due to black holes, non-digital,
nonrecordable steps in the purchase process.
This is often the case in retail,
where engagement online is parallel to increased awareness
in-store, but where the opportunity to accurately or correctly
measure the related activity is non-existent because of lack of
measurability. Mobile can help remove these black holes so that, to
a more certain degree, we can measure the direct effect of an
online marketing activity to actual in-store purchasing. Mobile can
be the platform connecting online to in-store.
People watch a tv programme once,
maybe twice. But they can play chess a thousand times.
In the words of Kevin Slavin: "people
watch a tv-programme once, maybe twice, but they can play chess a
thousand times." this quote has great implications for how we think
about marketing. We need to stop asking ourselves which platform is
best suited for display advertising, because there is no question:
traditional media far out-trumps the ability of online and mobile.
What we need to ask ourselves is this; is online and mobile a
direct sales medium for our brand? What are the best abilities of
the connected platforms?
It seems we have been blinded by our
eagerness to measure direct sales, the ease of analytics engines
spewing out statistics on click rates and unique visitors at
extremely low costs.
But this has led us into a haze, where
the simplicity of measuring our ability to transport people around
the web has got in the way of us seeing the platform's real
potential: establishing lasting relationships with participants
through fresh content, conversations, ideas and limitless
Online is a relationship platform, not
a direct sales platform. It may be easy to measure, but is also
guilty of creating the illusion that most products can be sold
solely through a display ad.
As the New York Times suggests, more
and more business models are focusing on subscriptions rather than
single sales. As an ever increasing number of products are becoming
inherently similar, the unique offering of one business has to come
through unique experiences offered through its marketing, rather
than the product alone. The question is: where can we grow our most
important customers? This is the single most important future role
of connected platforms.
10. Remote control
When the device interacts with the
surroundings - on the participant's behalf.
A chip implant in the back of the neck
or the retina might be some decades away but mobile is already
offering a lot of the functionality presented in movies as a remote
control to communicate and respond to future connected
The mobile is a sensing device,
connected to a database of knowledge through its access to the
owner's social networks. By combining it with either
geo-positioning or near field technology, it can control the
surrounding environment in order to either accommodate disability
or facilitate tailored real world services.
We are already familiar with conscious
action related to direct payment or ticket registering via mobile.
At the same time geo-apps on the iPhone or Android are tracking our
every move and can react or have our surroundings react to us.
11. Geotility and spimes
Devices responsive to geolocation and
A spime is an abbreviation of the
combination of space and time, referencing an object that combines
temporal awareness with geographic location.
Even though the term was coined by
author Bruce Sterling only some years ago, the idea of spimes have
been on the lips of direct marketers since the dawn of mobile.
The dream has been to have an object
'attached' to a person, pushing coupons, freebies and other
short-sighted intrusive incentives, as one is moving around in
civic surroundings. Passing an IKEA sends you a sms of a free
dinner if you come into the store, Jessops photo laboratory would
offer you a free 20x15 print, and the coffee shop invites your
friends in for a free cup.
Luckily, these ideas became illegal
even before they had the opportunity to intrude on people's lives.
However, some retail chain applications do offer this as an option
to their service today. But spimes have far greater reach, and are
only restricted presently by our own actions. let us look beyond
coupons and augmented reality layered maps, and integrate the
functionality into our services and ecosystem.
The beauty of digital is its ability
to record anything - as it is happening. The mobile becomes a huge
sensing device. This brings with it two opportunities. The first is
as a measuring device, giving us access to knowledge that we didn't
have previously, the second is in regard to the quality of data we
can acquire when technology obtains it without demanding any
conscious participation on our behalf.
Traditionally, we tend to understand
situations by asking people directly or indirectly about to
experiences outside the situation itself. This is a rational
approach to discovering secrets hidden away inside a rather complex
and subconscious brain. Asking people to imagine why they did
something, or how they experienced it, when they might be
completely unaware of why and how they did it creates a huge source
With the mobile set to record, the
experience can be sampled as it is happening. Without the person
acting as a filter between the action and the recording, the mobile
will be able to record an unbiased record of the process providing
unique insights which cannot be collected through interview or
Future digital activities will have to
be built with data collection integrated, as marketers will grow
increasingly aware of the value these recordings will have when it
comes to understanding participants and contexts.