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Sports and Shopping Shape Mobile Behavior in 2012

  |  March 8, 2012   |  Comments

The more sports-related mobile features marketers can produce for fans, the more they will engage - pre-game, mid-game, and beyond.

Sports and shopping are an integral part of American culture, so it's little wonder they're responsible for engendering some of the biggest changes in mobile usage we've seen. So far, this year is proving to be pivotal as consumers show increased interest in leveraging their smartphones to inform retail purchases and enhance sporting events.

Mobile Madness: Sports Fans Sport Smartphones

Prior to the Super Bowl, mobile marketing experts were abuzz. It wasn't the winning team that was up for conjecture, but the degree to which smartphone users would employ mobile media during the Big Game. Among them was global mobile marketing and ad technology provider Velti, which conducted a survey on the topic in conjunction with Harris Interactive.

The results seemed to suggest that, for football fans, smartphones would be important to the experience of watching the game. Eighty-three percent of mobile users expected to use their phone this year as much as they did during last year's game, while 30 percent under the age of 45 planned to watch the game with phone in hand. Nearly half of those aged 18 and older predicted they would check or use their device up to 10 times.

As it turned out, mobile usage was indeed heavy this year. AT&T and Verizon both reported above average data usage during the game. Mobile app analytics company Flurry, meanwhile, found that nearly one-third of the U.S. population used an app during the Super Bowl, with this number increasing exponentially over the first three quarters.

There's no question that mobile media is important to sports fans. Just consider the fact that Turner Sports and CBS Sports are implementing "pay walls" for mobile viewing of college basketball's March Madness games this year, and that the Ultimate Fighting Championship organization enlisted the help of CommerceTel to deliver voting capabilities, texts, special offers, and HD-quality graphics to mobile subscribers. The more sports-related mobile features marketers can produce for fans, the more they will engage - pre-game, mid-game, and beyond.

The Mobile Shopper: Active and Interactive

It's 6 p.m. and a busy mom is rushing through the grocery store, urging her two young children forward as she grabs the makings of a quick dinner. She whips around the corner and there, to her dismay, stand three other shoppers blocking the way with their carts. Their eyes are on their smartphones, their hands on the products they're in the midst of considering for a purchase. They hold a box of rice, a can of soup, but still they consult the consumer reviews and compare pricing online.

Enter the world of the mobile consumer - a world where this kind of behavior is commonplace, and where busy moms just like this one are increasingly among the shoppers referring to their phones. According to comScore's 2012 "Mobile Future in Focus," this may be the year that mobile makes its mark on shopping in earnest. Forty-two percent of U.S. mobile subscribers now use smartphones, while over half of U.S. smartphone users performed "retail research" inside a store last year. One in eight compared pricing using a smartphone while in-store, and one in five scanned a barcode.

Although only 8 percent of Internet traffic can be attributed to mobile and connected devices (including tablets and e-readers), this number is on the rise. Not only are consumers extending their Internet activities beyond the computer, but their behavior, particularly in-store, demonstrates a real appreciation for what apps and the mobile web can do.

Mobile subscribers are sophisticated, savvy, and ready to accept mobile marketing efforts that stand to improve their lives. By making it easy for them to find what they're looking for in a pinch - whether it be pricing information, product reviews, recipes, or apps that provide all of the above - brands can infiltrate their daily lives and become the go-to mobile resources they crave.

Mobile marketing in 2012 should be about two things: opening the lines of communication, and providing value. Do this, and sports fans and shoppers alike will flock to what your brand has to offer.

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Tessa Wegert

Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.

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