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Mobile Is Eating Everything

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Like this summer’s blockbuster monster Godzilla, mobile is crushing it in media and mobile ads are crushing it hard. Last week Kleiner Perkins’ Mary Meeker presented data at the re/code conference showing that mobile ads are up 47 percent over 2013, and should continue going through the roof. There’s still a massive gap between time spent on mobile and ad dollars spent – but it’s only a matter of time. Add to that the fact that there are 6.8+ billion cell phones on the planet today (1.75 billion of those are smart phones) and it’s easy to see why mobile will soon dominate in every way possible.

Mobile is how consumers connect to the Internet. Mobile is where the search inquiries begin. Mobile is how business transactions are being done. Mobile will soon be how we pay for things. Everything’s gone mobile and it can no longer be a separate ad category for brands - it’s racing to the center of good campaign strategies.

Consumers’ habits have shifted to mobile-first. Whether it’s buying a car, planning a diet, shopping for clothes, or downloading music – everything starts with getting information mobile first. The migration of ad dollars to the mobile space is no surprise. It’s all about meeting the consumer where they ‘live’ and right now it’s heads-down on the mobile screen.

Brands and their agencies will find a mixed bag in terms of acceptance of mobile ads. In some cases, users seem to welcome native ads in mobile as a new experience, with click-throughs that are higher than traditional ads. Conversion rates are higher too. Consumer brands are realizing they can influence point of sale with the right mobile messaging and this opens up a whole new set of opportunities.

In other cases, users might find mobile ads annoying and intrusive – but it turns out the trick is going to be engagement. Today’s mobile user wants an experience not a campaign.

Understandably, Instagram ads are garnering huge instant recall in early tests with Taco Bell and Ben & Jerry’s. Makes sense, because after all, Instagram is mobile personified, right?

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But often brands completely miss the mark with mobile, and especially mobile millennials. Moosylvania recently completed a study of 1,000 millennials and asked them about their favorite brands. Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors spent $1 billion in marketing last year, but neither brand received a single seal of approval from millennials interviewed in the study. The study found this is because the beer brands advertise versus drumming up a conversation with consumers. Again, engagement and conversation must be central for successful mobile campaigns.

Success can also come in providing useful information at the right time to the right target. The automotive industry is jumping on the information side of this. Car buyers increasingly start their buying process on mobile. Automotive brands like BMW and Volkswagen are launching clever mobile campaigns that start with raising brand awareness but then move quickly on to signing up for test drives or providing trade-in promotions to current owners.

If mobile ads are hot, mobile video is on fire. Brands are realizing that when you’re home at night couch shopping, video engagement might be best. Tomorrow, they can engage with you differently when you’re out and about, two miles from the grocery store.

French couture house Chanel thinks mobile video (including Vine) shows great promise. They’ve built an in-depth video story called “The Colors” about the inspiration behind color. “Chanel is speaking to those who are fans of the brand, those who wear the brand and those that are fashion lovers in general,” the agency Accessory2 says. “The videos serve as a manifesto to the house as well as a mantra in fashion.”

This concept of engagement and experience is everything going forward as Ted Schadler, Vice President & Principal Analyst of Forrester Research says. “Building and delivering great mobile experiences will be the beating heart of your customer engagement strategy for the next 10 years.”

In other words, it’s a great time to embrace mobile fearlessly – or get eaten alive.

Beverly Macy is author, educator, and thought leader in social and digital business and a frequent contributor to Say Daily. She is also the author of The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing and a host of Social Media Radio.

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