Looking past mobile: Four trends to watch out for

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Mobile has proven itself to be a permanent fixture that “the year of mobile” no longer applies. Here are four less-established, emerging trends to look out for.

Forget all that “this is the year of mobile” nonsense. Mobile has more than arrived. From time spent to ad dollar growth, mobile is dominating; it’s a rocket ship that’s already in orbit.

Over the past few weeks, I attended two different conferences – the Modern Marketing Summit Upfront and Eniac’s M1 (“Mobile-First”) Summit – where that was discussed a lot by thought leaders and mobile gurus from across today’s leading agencies, brands, vendors and investors. No doubt, it was an impressive group of speakers to learn from.

So what was all the buzz and excitement around? Here are four key predictions from the experts looking at the future of modern marketing from an investment, career, and marketing lens.

1. Location data will feed analytics

Geo and proximity data will help brands better understand conversion and attribution. They’ll also play a growing role in predictive analytics and machine learning, as brands look to sense and respond to customer needs in the mobile moment.

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2. Messaging apps will blow up

Over the last six months, there has been a lot of talk about messaging apps. Users around the world are flocking to them – the most popular, WhatsApp, is used in 109 countries – in droves to chat with friends, connect with brands, watch content, and even browse and purchase merchandise.

Messaging apps and mobile chat are just beginning.  The emergence of messaging apps offers exciting opportunities for new startups and marketers alike, and here’s why:

  • Size. The four largest messaging apps now have more users than the four largest social networks.
  • Retention. Users are addicted to chat. Falling data costs, cheaper devices and more robust features and functionality will continue to fuel growth for years to come.
  • Demographics. Messaging and chat app have a large and attractive user base of young people who see messaging/chat apps as their primary means of communication.
  • Effectiveness. Texting is up to 40 times more effective than email when it comes to reaching millennials, according to one panelist at the M1Summit.

3. Conversational commerce will go mainstream

Messaging apps are evolving as companies build out services such as bots and conversational commerce. Bots are a text-based service – either located within a messaging app like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, or inside a brand’s app – that allows a user to interact with a business via artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing.

Bots offer marketers the opportunity to engage with users, and sell goods and services, facilitating faster, more efficient customer experiences and ultimately saving time and money. At the conferences, bots were widely heralded to be the future of mobile interactions, but AI and natural language processing are far from perfect.

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Many are predicting brands will migrate from apps to bots over time as AI/NL processing advances allow for more interactivity and features and functionality become increasingly more visual.

4. Robotics will create a whole new platform category

One panelist predicted that any repetitive task that can be automated, will be automated through robotics and machine learning. The success of Siri and Amazon’s Echo and Alexa highlights the importance of voice, leading many to predicting that it will be the new user interface of the future.

There you have it: the collective wisdom from leading mobile marketers, agencies, start-ups and investors on the future of mobile. They left with one final note: don’t underestimate the relationship consumers have with their phones. While the opportunity is great, the responsibility we all have to honor the medium and the consumer,  including his or her privacy, is paramount.

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