'Advertising on mobile like advertising in people's diaries' - psychologist urges marketers to change mobile thinking

Advertising on mobile should be considered by marketers as the equivalent of advertising in someone’s personal diary, psychologist Dr Simon Hampton told the IAB Mobile Engage conference in London.

Psychology: Dr Hampton spoke at the IAB Mobile Engage event

The psychologist told delegates that advertisers must change the way they think about the channel and develop more understanding about the deeper connection people have with their mobile devices than previous online technology.

“Our physical state drives our emotional state,” he said. “The hand is especially important in this. This pattern of movement itself generates emotional states.

“We can draw a useful analogy between a smartphone and a diary. Both are a record, auto-biographical, sources of amusement, entertainment. What would you do if you could advertise in someone’s diary?

“Dear diary, few people persist with, but everybody has a mobile phone. What if you knew as it was being written you could cross reference with what was written last month? What would you say?”

Hampton, a psychology lecturer at the University of East Anglia, went on to explain that the notion multi-screening was unnatural was a myth, and argued that human interaction with screens was more closely aligned with their natural state than reading, which he said required “thousands of hours” to train people to do.

“No instruction is required to get a three year old to paint with their fingers,” he said. “Mobile devices and touch are deeply intuitive.

“I think this is key in touch. The amount of the brain devoted to the hands to touch and feel, the amount of information that hands can deliver to the human brain is only matched by the mouth.

“The key is that those gestures for movements that touch and feel might be why some brands of mobile devices are genuinely sensual,” he added, using Google Glass as an example.

However, Hampton acknowledged a “resistance” in the advertising industry to embrace mobile advertising, but said that the key to overcome that was for those marketers still in the minority of championing mobile to keep repeating the message.

“The thing about industrial interia is there’s a personal element to it,” he said. “Telling people who are in screen and radio advertising that mobile is the way to go isn’t just threatening to their job. I do think there is an existential issue. I see it in academia all the time.

“Tell a man my age that my job is redundant, you’re now telling that the way I feed my family and my mortgage is untrue, it’s based on a lie of some sort. I think there is a genuine challenge.

“People are influential when they’re relentlessly consistent; in an organisation, deciding what the message is and sticking to it repetitively, over and over. People may not like what you’re saying, but they’re sure you’re confident in it.”

Freshly released figures from the IAB show that nearly half of the top 50 FMCG brands in the UK don’t have a mobile-friendly site, while nearly a third have no mobile presence at all.

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