A mobile retrospective: The growth of beacons, mobile video and the internet of things in 2014

Mobile has continued to shake up the marketing mix more than ever before in 2014. The Drum takes a look at some of the notable mobile trends having the biggest impact on advertisers.

Shining stars: Retailers embrace beacons

The ramping up of beacon technology has been well documented this year, with retailers trialling the technology in-store to bridge the gap between online and offline, targeting shoppers with personalised offers and discounts.

As well as proximity based offers, beacons are being used to aid consumers’ in-store navigation, including, in the US, Target’s Christmas app, which enables customers to navigate the store.

House of Fraser was one of the UK retailers to take the leap into beacons this year, launching beacon-enabled mannequins in the summer.

In its Aberdeen store, where the beacons are live, there has been an uplift in footfall, an “increase in staff and customer engagement,” as well as increased sales of the mannequin products according to a spokesperson for the brand. So how does House of Fraser see its use of this technology developing?

“We are looking at using beacons for customers to request in-store services such as let the store know they have arrived to collect their buy and collect purchase. We want to ensure the beacons are used to provide positive operational benefits to customers rather than spamming them with messages in-store."

Internet of things: Still nascent but growing

A huge buzzword throughout the last couple of years, the chatter about the internet of things (IoT) has become overwhelming while the technology itself is still nascent.

Yet recent developments in the space suggest that it could really be about to take off. Big moves from the major telecoms players into the space have been telling, and may indicate that this backing is needed for the internet of things to get the boost it needs to become mainstream. Telefónica, for instance, launched a modular IoT platform called Thinking Things in October.

The company’s global advertising chief, Daniel Rosen, told The Drum that Telefónica is helping to ‘power’ the IoT and wearable device ecosystem, but added that consolidation in the wearable space is inevitable.

Vodafone also bought into the IoT this year with the acquisition of machine-to-machine company Cobra.

Nick King, director of platform solutions at Yahoo, tells The Drum: “As a result of the internet of things we will increasingly see richer streams of data based on user behaviour.

Everything from watches to fridges will become internet enabled, meaning marketers will be able to understand users’ behaviour more than ever and deliver targeted advertising at scale.”

Video: Mobile game changer?

Mobile video continued its trajectory in 2014, with increased volumes of video consumption on mobile and increased spend in the space signalling its influence. According the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB)/PwC study into digital ad spend published in October, mobile video advertising spend grew 196 per cent to £63.9m – making it the fastest growing digital ad format.

“Video is a natural medium for mobile advertising. It allows creative expression without paying for complex formats like touchable or shakeable mobile ads, and is perfect for brand building,” says Julian Smith, head of strategy and innovation at Fetch.

Is mobile coming of age?

While mobile spend has rocketed (figures released by the IAB in April found that mobile ad spend almost doubled in 2013 to take the figure over £1bn), there is still a lag in understanding of its role in the marketing mix.

Optimising for mobile is still not being prioritised by enough advertisers; in a recent IAB study, 69 per cent of people said visiting a non-optimised site was a frustrating experience, with 73 per cent saying they did not turn to an alternative device.

Meanwhile, Google introduced ‘mobile-friendly’ tags to guide consumers towards mobile optimised sites in search results, which may prompt more brands to think more strategically about mobile.

This feature was first published as part of a mobile focus in The Drum's 10 December issue, available today.

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