As more and more online traffic is coming from mobile devices, marketers are scrambling trying to find ways to better expose people to their brands and messages in a natural way. Obviously there are limitations with limited screen size as well as the nature in which people leverage mobile devices in very quick, bite-size, utilitarian ways.
Facebook has struggled to monetize the immense mobile traffic it has from consumers. The company has made some progress, but admits it has a long way to go to truly take advantage of all those eyeballs. Whether it is ads embedded within the feed, promotions around check-ins, or other methods of getting those ad impressions in front of its audience, Facebook knows it needs to do it. I would guess even more on Facebook's mind is how to do that in a targeted, natural way that is going to lead to impact for its advertisers.
Facebook isn't alone; LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, and many others are trying to harness the power. They know that the information about where people can have a significant influence on their state of mind, what their interests are, and how they may be willing to engage is important. Think about the different states of mind while in an airport, while at a mall, while at school, or a sporting event.
When you do see mobile advertising it is often related to a restaurant or retail location near you and some form of special or promotion. While that has value it still is only a very small percentage of the overall advertising dollars.
To be successful and to truly engage customers the big-brand advertisers are going to need to solve for how to play in this new world. Often this is forced and just doesn't make sense; it can feel that the brand is being rammed down your throat.
But that is starting to change a bit. When done successfully brands are finding ways to insert the brand into things that are happening for consumers at the moment based on where they are.
One recent example that I encountered was checking in on Foursquare at an airport. The check-in page told me the airport was swarming, but more interestingly it showed me an add for Oreo that said, "Wonder if you gave an OREO to the ticket agent. Would you get a wink and a smile?" and you could click to learn more. The ad wasn't pushing me to walk in a store and grab Oreos off the shelf, rather it was positioning itself for the next time I am looking for a treat or snack. Oreo did it in a fun way that made sense based on where I was. I was scrambling through an airport, stressed out, and tired. It was a lightweight message that was fun and spot-on for the brand. It literally brought a smile to my face based on how I was feeling in that moment.
I believe more brands are going to find ways to inject their story into consumers' lives in this natural and authentic way. As more and more time is spent away from TV and traditional print and more time is spent in these bite-size consumables while people are on the go, this will become even more important.
As you think about your marketing budget and how to reach consumers, think about how to connect with them naturally where they are, based on what they are doing, and most importantly on their terms. It isn't easy and will require creativity outside of what many media groups are considering today, but the opportunity is there.
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As president of the Americas regions for the digital agency POSSIBLE, Jason is responsible for leading the long-term stability and growth of the region. Jason has 20-plus years experience in digital strategy. He is a long-time advocate of using data to inform digital strategies to help clients attract, convert, and retain customers. Jason supports our clients and employees in driving new engagements and delivering great work that works.
Jason speaks frequently about helping marketers take advantage of data to make smarter business decisions and improve the success of their organizations. He is the co-author of Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions.
Follow him on Twitter @JasonBurby.
March 19, 2014