Has the time for a truly integrated mobile marketing effort finally arrived? It depends on how you read the numbers regarding the level of engagement with mobile content. I personally think the time has come, but it requires a very gentle “touch” to ensure mobile is less distraction and more interaction.
Time magazine certainly thinks the opportunity for mobile has arrived. Time is one of my favorite magazines, and when something shows up there I consider it to have achieved mainstream recognition.
According to Time, mobile is core to the daily experience of the average person; though some of the numbers were rather surprising and suggested we still have a ways to go with mobile as a stand-alone medium. On a high level mobile is indeed a personalized marketing opportunity, but that opportunity is in itself very fragmented. Mobile users are multi-tasking and much of their interaction is already considered a distraction, invading into their personal daily lives. If mobile is a secondary vehicle that interrupts other interactions, how effective can mobile marketing be since it is essentially a third-layer of distraction? Simply put, if you are in front of the TV, on your phone, and an ad pops up, that ad is 3 degrees of separation from your attention.
Lets recap some of the most interesting nuggets from the mobile technology overview issue that hit newsstands on August 27:
- In the US, 29% of people start and end their day with their wireless device. This doesn’t seem very high, especially given that we are 15 points below the international average. I would imagine if you broke this number down by age, the younger the audience, the higher this number. In my immediate community I would guess this number is closer to 75%. My guess seems supported by the fact that 68% of people surveyed say they keep their phone next to their bed at night.
- Overall, (similarly) 29% of global respondents feel we place too much emphasis on technology in society. Even though I live and work in this business, I would probably agree with this. I love my technology, but it definitely should play second fiddle to my family. Unfortunately, in the US, 35% of users admit to using their mobile device while playing with their kids. This is disheartening to me.
- Also in the US, only 34% of users think they go a few hours per day without their mobile device. I would have thought this was higher, and in metropolitan areas I would suggest it is twice this level. I have actually witnessed people having panic attacks when they realize they don’t have their phone on them. I try to put my phone down for 2-3 hours each day minimum, but it’s hard. It’s always ringing and distracting me from where I am at that moment.
- 17% say they check their phone at every meal, regardless of who they are eating with. What does this say about our dinner etiquette? How engaging are those dinner conversations if you can nod off and check your phone?
I jest a bit to exaggerate a point – mobile is a difficult media to make effective for marketers because we haven’t yet identified the right way to do so from a delivery perspective. It is a personal medium and yet the marketing efforts are very invasive – more a distraction than a truly effective delivery vehicle.
For mobile to become a truly effective medium, the messaging has to be engaging in and of itself, enough so to gather the full attention of the audience. The message delivery must be intended to drive interaction of some kind, though maybe not a click but at least some kind of measurable response. Attribution models that take into account mobile would be extremely helpful if we can quickly mature to that point. In the interim, creativity should be explored on how to make use of the medium properly.
What are you seeing that would suggest mobile has arrived or where it needs to go?