The future is calling. Mobile’s day in the sun is coming … for both consumers and advertisers clever enough to harness it. 3G is soon to become a thing of the past when 4G (call it LTE or WiMax it’s all the same) becomes available. And yes, it’s blazing fast compared to 3G. I hear it’s going to bring significant changes to mobile – an exciting proposition. Faster mobile broadband access means less waiting time, more video, gaming, and more apps … well let’s just say that when the technology meets the smartphone, mobile is really going to come into it’s own.
The smartphone designers have learned a thing from the iPhone, so we can expect slicker design, better functionality and lots of touch screen technology … meaning more apps than you can shake a stick at. Will it fragment the market? Probably short term. But competition is usually a good thing.
Mobile challenges everything we thought we knew about advertising. People need brands and brands need people. Advertising traditionally is an interruptus message, and that goes against the personal nature of the mobile experience. Looking thru someone’s mobile is almost like peeking into someone’s medicine cabinet. As one survey put it, lost wallets take an average of 26 hours to be reported. But lost mobile phones – a mere 68 minutes.
Once upon a time we accepted the one way conversation – the brand message. But people started to realize they could say no. And marketers lost control of the message. But with the coming of 4G, we have this fantastic opportunity. But we have to do it right. We can’t think in terms of how we used to advertise. Mobile is a unique platform. And it won’t tolerate a one-way conversation. It also won’t tolerate old school direct marketing thinking. Texting, when used in conjunction with voting say, leaves a digital trail, but woe betide you if you, as the marketer, uses that digital trail to send junk mail back to a mobile user (the mobile equivalent of the email blast). The more personal you can make the experience, the better. Personal is relevant. It’s wrong to send random advertising messages, it’s wrong for marketers to try to force their way onto mobile. What’s right are ideas. Personally relevant ideas that allow the mobile user to interact with your brand. Ideas that are cool and unexpected. Ideas that are targeted and respect the user and the user experience. That’s our in. And I find that pretty exciting … and scary.
The mobile Web is complicated with so many different operating systems, screen sizes, browsers, etc. And now the application landscape seems to be adding complexity rather than making it simple. But this 4G thing is huge. And there are all kinds of mobile developments from technology giants like Apple to social media upstarts.
If you’re a creative thinker in the ad business, now’s the time to really get to know mobile. If you’re like me … my phone is not my lifeline, it’s a business tool and isn’t really personal, so you’re going to have to work harder to really understand the user experience. But I have sons who live and die by their mobile devices – so at least I have an “in” into that world.
But I’m sure that most of you are super users of mobile technology and are completely on the bandwagon … hopefully it will be easier for you to “get”. But get it now. Because mobile’s time is coming. And I hear it’s going to be a revolution.