mobile marketing

Rebecca Lieb's picture

A Mass Audience for Mobile?

What will it take to achieve mass in mobile?

This question has been on my mind a lot lately (in part because I'll be addressing it at Publishing Apps Expo in a keynote tomorrow). There's a lot that stands between mobile, its audience and advertisers: platform incompatibility, development problems, and just plain old lack of a real advertising model. Mobile tends to conflate utility and content into new hybrids we don't intuitively understand yet.

So it was interesting being briefed yesterday on Flipboard's next foray out of the iPad and into the iPhone. As you'd expect from one of the most visually stunning iPad apps, great care was taken to adopt Flipboard to its new and inherently more mobile home on a smaller screen.

Co-founder Evan Doll expained the new app is intended to "fill in the gaps in daily moments," like standing in line at the coffee shop. Browsing is therefore one-handed, flipping is vertical.

What's really compelling is how this new Flipboard aggregates content into just one app. Not just newspapers and magazines, but also social activity from multiple sources including Facebook and Twitter. This indicates the iPhone version of Flipboard could be the go-to app for iPhone owners. It puts a lot of information into one place with one very pleasing and intuitive interface.

Why this matters from a media perspective is that we're a long way - a very long way - from mobile mass media. In fact, we'll likely never get there. But by migrating to the iPhone from the iPad, Flipboard has put itself with reach of millions more users than it's already more-than-respectable 4M user base. And it's built compelling content into a beautiful, intuitive UX.

Exactly the direction mobile needs to take to become attractive to advertisers.

Update: The service has proven so popular that Flipboard services have gone down. See what I mean?

Rebecca Lieb's picture

Why Isn't There More "Immersive" Advertising?

What ever happened to “immersive”?

You know, those campaigns that are so absorbing, so experiential, so deep and rich and mesmerizing that the viewer/audience/consumer is swept up in the experience. Transported, and in some small way, transformed. They’re also compelled to share and pass on campaigns like this. Truly immersive ads are always viral.

Digital was supposed to be more immersive than present reality allows. Arguably, Burger King’s Subservient Chicken was immersive. People spent hours commanding the chicken to do things, and even hacking the chicken to do NSFW things. According to the advertiser, the campaign even sparked a spike in the sales of the chicken sandwich it oh, so subtly promoted.

As digital technology has evolved, you’d think there would be more immersive campaigns, wouldn’t you? We’ve learned and grown, have more tools at our disposal and sophisticated developers who can manipulate them, working in tandem with inspired creatives.

I’m not talking world-class video here. Not to denigrate top-notch video, but even at its best video is engaging, not immersive. I’m making that call because video – even digital video – is so rarely interactive, even when it is beautiful and breathtaking.

What recent campaigns have been genuinely immersive? Not a lot comes to mind. Two are Facebook integrations. First, Intel’s breathtaking Museum of Me,  Intel's visual representation of your social life as a museum installation.  Because the rich, sweeping and breathtaking visuals pull data from the viewer’s Facebook profile,  some critics decried the initiative as creepy.

The Museum of Me wasn’t as creepy by half as its evil twin, Take This Lollipop. This Facebook integration (now offline, with a page cryptically stating “it has begun”) was the fastest-growing Facebook application ever. But it wasn’t a marketing campaign, but rather a side project by Jason Zada who, according to Mashable, created OfficeMax’s Elf Yourself.

Another fairly recent example of a truly immersive execution was the Google Chrome HTML5 experiment, The Wilderness Downtown, an interactive film built on (among other things) Google Maps. It eventually brings the viewer home. Literally.

What do all these immersive campaigns share in common? The oldest, most hackneyed truest truism in digital marketing: it’s about the user. All these executions are, literally, about the user, who is front and center in the action. The viewer is the star of the show, and firmly in the driver’s seat.

So why aren’t we seeing more of this highly creative and utterly interactive immersive stuff?

In many ways, what technology enables, technology taketh away. At least, it does in this still early stage of  digital evolution.

As rapidly as the cool new technologies are being rolled out that enable this stuff, so too are new platforms (especially mobile ones) being introduced every day on which they’re incompatible. Even on PCs, they require updated browsers and installed plug-ins.

Making an app? Is it for iOS, Android, Kindle Fire or Blackberry? Digitally, we still live in an era many of us have experienced before. Bet you remember some of these: 8-track or cassette? Betamax or VHS? Regular DVD or Blu-ray flavor?

The point? To be immersive, a campaign has to be really, really interactive. But it also has to provide an utterly flawless user experience. Otherwise, it’s immersive in all the wrong ways.

It’s hard to conceive how, with a proliferation of new technologies and new platforms, many of which have not yet figured out how to meet in the middle, campaigns can be truly immersive – and reach everyone.

We’re just not there yet.                  

Rebecca Lieb's picture

CMOs Want Technology and Content

I spent this afternoon immersed in a briefing on IBM's most recent research effort, perhaps the most exhaustive survey of CMOs ever conducted. In a four month period, the company interviewed over 1,700 CMOs in 64 countries to learn more about their priorities and their pain points. The full report is available for download (registration required).

There are many fascinating insights in the report, as well as much information that's validating, if unsurprising (CMOs feel they need to better understand social media, data, and technology in general, for example). Two tables are of particular interest given the rise of content marketing and social media.

When asked in which areas they plan to increase the use of technology, responses are overwhelmingly geared toward content-oriented initiatives. Social media, content management, tablet applications - all these are heavily oriented toward the creation of content, not advertising and not direct marketing. SEO made the list, but search advertising didn't. Less than half plan to invest in more email technology - unthinkable a mere five years ago.

Of course, this naturally doesn't mean CMOs plan to abandon email marketing (or any of the aforementioned channels). But these planned investments indicate that worldwide, companies want to create content, interest and dialogue with customers and prospects.

This indication is borne out in their plans for partnerships. In the chart on the left, red indicates near-term, yellow longer-term plans. Call and service centers, community development, and new media strategy outweigh more traditional agency considerations for either traditional or digital advertising.

These are all themes I'll be digging into shortly in a research project: how organizations are reallocating both internal and external marketing resources to balance their need for advertising with the demands of content, social media and conversational marketing  

Rebecca Lieb's picture

What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Mobile?

What do we talk about when we talk about mobile? Increasingly, the landscape is muddled. Having spent Advertising Week in session after session on mobile media and advertising, both at MIXX and the Mobile Media Summit, not once did a speaker say specifically what they were talking about when using the term "mobile."

To contextualize any discussion of mobile marketing or media these days, the entire arena must be addressed with a much greater level of specificity. Raise this point with people who live and breathe mobile and the first reaction is, "Oh! I get it. You mean whether it's iPad or smartphone, right?"

Only sort of right. Because defining device is just the tip of the mobile iceberg. And let's get one thing straight - straight off: mobile is not as simple as tablet vs. phone. Mobile can encompass laptop computers. Mobile gaming devices. Kindles and other e-readers. Non-smart (dumb?) mobile phones are mobile devices, and so are a panoply of digitally connected gizmos, such as Bluetooth headsets and those NFC-enabled car keys BMW is developing to do stuff in the real world other than unlock your car door (the internet of things - that's a whole other discussion).

While all the above are mobile, they're mobile in extraordinarily different ways. Plenty of mobile advertising is highly geo- or location specific. So do devices such as laptops, without GPS or other location functionality, now qualify as "mobile" within this context? Not for many ads, apps or media. Can the device handle a QR code? That's pretty essential to many of these discussions. Barcode scanners are part of the standard Android deck, but optional add-ons in the iOS environment. Flash works on some of these things, but not on others.

So now that we've narrowed our discussion of mobile media and marketing to a specific device or two, can just we move on? Not so fast. Media and ad formats vary by device, by size, and by carrier. Apps are robust on some platforms, while not available on others. Consumer behavior varies radically not only between devices, but as research is beginning to indicate, on and app-by-app basis even when the device in question remains the same.

Perhaps this inability to reach any level of granularity or specificity is why that elusive "year of mobile" is yet to arrive (unless it's already come and gone?). How will we know it when we see it if the terms aren't defined? It's easy to understand why mobile advocates shy away from fine distinctions. Mobile marketing and media are still nascent - even more so than the rest of digital. Only in a landscape developing this quickly, and with new devices with new levels of functionality coming onto the market seemingly every month, delineations and definitions become only more critical.

Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca Lieb is a strategic advisor, consultant, research analyst, keynote speaker, author, and columnist.


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