Email is eating mobile, part 2

With such a short time since my July 16th ClickZ article on the topic of email eating mobile, you wouldn’t expect much to have changed.

The singularity did not take a summer vacation.

Email – or more precisely, the hash of the email address – has continued on its relentless march toward its ultimate destiny as the logical successor to the tracking cookie. It is clearly now the best way to market to known consumers, regardless and especially because of the proliferation of mobile devices.

The latest evidence of the coming revolution in marketing – what I like to call Programmatic Id or PID for short – came during September 2015’s Advertising Week in New York. One recently-dominant topic of interest to not only email marketers, but all marketers – ad blocking – continued its free sponsorship tour of the major media conferences.

For those who have not kept up with ad blocking’s meteoric rise on the conference circuit, it’s really quite astounding. While only 20 percent of the people (and email marketing’s audience is overwhelmingly people, not bots) open the email you send them, that 20 percent does so happily. They click and convert enough to make your tiny and underfunded email marketing department punch way above its weight. So when publishers complain about 40 percent ad blocking rates, you merely scoff.

The 80 percent of your list that didn’t open the last email you sent them also doesn’t bother you, Mister or Miss Email Marketing Professional. That is because you know that while your audience may only open 10 emails from you each year, when they do actually open them, they drive so much revenue that you can forgive them for ignoring you so often.

This laissez-faire attitude is fine in your department, but amongst your colleagues down in the hall in the Web display ad marketing team, there is some Flaming Lips stuff going. Your friend Yoshimi, who is in charge of buying media for your brand, is fighting an army of pink robots who are seeking to trick her into buying traffic that consists only of ad dollar-eating robots.

Apparently, all of this fraud is causing mobile browsing to slow down so much that people are starting to install ad blockers on their mobile phones.

Between ad blocking and ad fraud, one big story came out that underscored the importance of email to the future of not only advertising and marketing, but also to mobile. Google announced Customer Match, a technique that enables marketers to upload their email lists into AdWords and reach their customers when they are watching YouTube and checking Gmail. Coming late on the heels of competitor, Facebook’s Custom Audiences, Google finally announced something that had been rumored earlier in the year.

What does this have to do with email eating mobile?

It’s simple: email addresses are naturally cross-device and cross-application. By using email addresses in addition to cookies, marketers are able to more reliably match customers whose browsing and device habits frustrate probabilistic matching technologies.

Google already understands that the email address is at the heart of identity, and that mobile devices are proxies for identity. You can’t reliably share a mobile device like you can a desktop computer. In order to reach audiences, Google realizes it will have to leverage the valuable customer data it has been managing. The iframe, javascript/flash third-party cookie industrial complex that has ruled online marketing for the last decade is crumbling in the face of new consumer habits and technologies, and the lowly email address is coming to the rescue.

That login data you’ve been using just to send first-party newsletters is all grown up now and wants its own mobile phone. And thanks to your careful stewardship of your brand’s customer data, you are at the center of the biggest shift in marketing since the invention of the third-party tracking cookie. Everyone will be better off and happier for it, especially consumers tired of receiving poorly targeted ads from brands they don’t care about.

Article images via Flickr

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