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Happy 40th birthday mobile: Blippar, IAB, Mojiva and more discuss how mobile has changed marketing

By Ishbel Macleod, PR and social media consultant

Deep Focus London



April 3, 2013 | 6 min read

Today marks the 40th birthday of the mobile phone. It’s gone from massive ‘brick’ models to sleek smartphones that allow you to access the interview, watch films and, oh yeah, send texts and make calls.

The Drum asked various agencies, companies and networks with an interest in mobile how the growth of mobile has changed the marketing industry.

Jessica Butcher, CMO, Blippar

Mobile is the most pervasive new marketing channel re-writing many of the rules and in particular, driving new trends around location-based services - but it is of course also the most personal of channels, meaning you cannot push messages to the phone owner without permission or in an un-engaging manner. Proactively requested marketing experiences (as seen with mobile sensory technologies like Blippar, audio-recognition or NFC-activated experiences) can only work if there is a story to tell that rewards the customer for their effort in engaging. It must offer entertainment, utility, or value... Age old marketing rules that should be applied to all messages, but never more so than within this medium. Aligned to this (but shockingly frequently forgotten) remember the limited screen size! Ensure messages are mobile optimised and striking or valuable within this small-screen size.

Dave Gwozdz, CEO, Mojiva Inc

It’s fascinating to think that roughly 40 years ago the processing power now found on these mobile devices put a man on the moon. In 40 short years, what began as the untethering of a voice-only device has literally transformed the way the human race communicates, shares, learns, protests, plays, revolts and shops. And only with the recent explosion in adoption of the mobile web have marketers begun to realize how vital it is to integrate mobile as the core around which all other forms of brand advertising need to be weaved. We are just now seeing major brands think and act "mobile-first.” The next 40 years will be super exciting.

Alex Kozloff, head of mobile, IAB

When I picture the engineers working in labs on the first mobile phone 40 years ago, I imagine they might have had an inkling this device would fundamentally change the way people communicate forever. However, just like many others, I’m not so sure they would have foreseen the massive effect mobile phones would have on marketing and advertising four decades on, in 2013. The speed of consumer uptake of highly advanced mobile devices has made mobile into a medium that marketers need to know about, and with forecasts predicting mobile advertising spend to be over ₤500m in the UK for 2012 - they can’t afford not to!

Dan Beasley, head of mobile, Jam

Forty years ago the mobile phone was born. Now, flash forward, we're at the point now where more people own a mobile phone than own a toothbrush. That's huge - and it means that brands and advertisers can't just treat mobile like a standalone channel, a box tick, anymore. Mobile needs to be at the core of an advertiser's agenda. At Jam, we look at mobile as the connective tissue between all manner of communications. At every point where customers see advertising - be it out of home, point of sale, on TV, online or in-store - they have their mobile to hand. That little device is the bridge to engagement. Mobile is the ultimate, always-on connected channel which allows advertisers to have constant presence and dialogue in their customers lives. Now they just need to start taking advantage of that.

Phil Gault, director of strategy, Sponge

At the most fundamental level, mobile is about individual empowerment; both because it provides friction-free access to information and because it allows us to understand our immediate environment better and exploit it more productively. This is already having a profound impact on people’s expectations – and thus on the nature of the relationship we have with brands. Increasingly, our focus is shifting from what brands do to what they enable us to do. In turn, this means marketers need to learn a new set of behaviours; most particularly in terms of understanding their customers as individuals (rather than segments), and then delivering content that is high in both personal relevance and contextual value.

Gavin Stirrat, managing director EMEA, Millennial Media

No trend has been as personal and powerful as mobile in changing our everyday lives. When Martin Cooper made the first mobile phone call 40 years ago, his vision was “to create something that would represent an individual”. It is this facet that has enabled mobile to become the most powerful marketing channel available. Consumers now use their mobile devices as the primary and first choice device to control their communication, their work, their socialisation, their entertainment, and their time. This paradigm shift has provided marketers with a huge opportunity, to aggregate and interpret the wide range of data-points now available – from social and interest signals, to device data and location – to deliver marketing messages with far greater relevance. Mobile is a unique medium. By taking advantage of interaction, like swipe and shake, insight like location, and proximity to physical points of sale, marketers can now reach and engage their target audience at the precise moments that matter. Mobile has not changed marketing fundamentals. What it has done is provide new tools to enable marketers to more precisely reach, engage and delight their target audience with a more immersive, personal brand experience. As mobile continues to drive new consumer behavior, it will be interesting to see how much further we have progressed in 2053 and beyond.

John Stoneman, GM Brand, UK, France and D-A-CH, InMobi

Mobile devices have transformed marketing because they have a fundamental impact on the daily lives of consumers. Internet access via mobile is no longer a niche activity – our latest Mobile Media Consumption Report found that 50% of global mobile web users are now using mobile as either their primary or exclusive means of going online. Yet the real innovative feature of mobile is that this change hasn’t occurred in one fell swoop, but has continued to evolve and surprise with endless opportunities over a number of years. "The introduction of the smartphone has meant consumers have the opportunity to connect with a brand within an intimate setting and the always-on character of smartphones provides marketers with unprecedented access to their consumers. What is clear is that mobile will continue to revolutionise the marketing landscape and marketers will continue to unlock the potential mobile brings.

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