Emerging TechnologyMobileThe Mobile Magic Wand

The Mobile Magic Wand

A look at the portable game system, the portable video player, and the new remote control, and how they will impact mobile marketing.

We know mobile is the bridge between the physical and digital world – through mobile commerce, augmented reality, visual search, and the many location-based services popping up everywhere. It brings the digital world to us no matter where we are in the real world. What’s amazing is the speed at which the mobile device has also become a true functional tool in our daily lives. It has become the “magic wand” for a variety of daily functions for millions of users, and even more exciting to marketers is the fact that each of these areas present significant opportunities to reach users with a deeper marketing experience.

The Portable Game System

Mobile gaming has been a popular concept since the late 1980s when Nintendo released the Game Boy, but it has generally been the domain of serious gamers until recently. The increase in mainstream interest in gaming, combined with the ability to play games on smartphones and tablets has begun an explosion in mobile gaming.

Last year, Angry Birds broke into the mainstream and saw over 50 million downloads across mobile platforms. This represented one of the first huge casual gaming successes in the mobile market, and few of us have been able to deny the addictive simplicity of Cut the Rope, Hungry Shark, and a variety of other casual games.

Social game developer Zynga released FarmVille Mobile, allowing players to take their virtual farming obsession on the go. Given the skyrocketing popularity of social games, the combination of this style of game play with the ability to play on mobile devices will likely accelerate the growth of both genres.

How will this impact mobile marketing?

Overall, mobile gaming revenue is expected to rise from $5.4 billion in 2008 to over $10 billion in 2013. Also, 33.6 percent of mobile users say they have played a game in the last month and 50 percent of those say the amount of time they spend playing has increased in the last year. Additionally, the user demographics are more desirable from a marketing perspective than traditional gaming – the average age of mobile gamers is 28, with 53 percent being female as compared to an audience that significantly skews male, with an average age of 34 for traditional gaming.

Additionally, game play is a more immersive experience than other forms of entertainment, and brand integration can enrich that experience by making the in-game world mimic the real world. Cascadian Farms launched a program with FarmVille where, upon going to shop for blueberry seeds, players would be offered the option of buying premium Cascadian Farms seeds, thus tightly integrating the brand in the experience.

The Portable Video Player

While mobile video consumption has been on a rapid rise, several improvements should drive massive expansion of mobile video consumption. The rapid adoption of tablets is a major factor, especially with the next round of tablets hitting the market with the iPad 2 and Xoom, the first real Android push in this market. With Android’s Honeycomb being specifically designed for the tablet experience, we expect to see a rapid push increase in tablet offerings with Android supported by major hardware manufacturers in the near term.

In addition to the sheer volume of sales, the devices are getting more powerful hardware and better screen resolutions, thus driving more HD demand. Combine these factors with the ongoing rollout of 4G in major markets, and it drives both higher quality and higher volume video consumption.

How will this impact mobile marketing?

Mobile video audiences continue to grow significantly, up 43 percent year-over-year, and amount to 10 percent of the estimated 220.5 million U.S. mobile users. These mobile video watchers are an active group, with an average three hours and 37 minutes spent per month watching mobile videos. According to eMarketer, mobile video revenues are estimated to grow from $548 million in 2010 to $1.3 billion in 2014. These revenues are broken into three groups: subscription-based, pay-per view, and ad-supported video, with the fastest growing group being ad-supported video (nearly a 60 percent annual growth).

The New Remote Control

Not all mobile functionality has to happen while you’re out and about – some can happen right in the living room of your home. The mobile device has become both a remote control and a TV companion to augment the TV experience.

Many apps can now control your TV. Several cable and satellite providers have published apps that can control the cable boxes and DVRs both at home or remotely. Other examples enhance the viewing experience. Using the iPad’s built-in microphone, the My Generation Sync app syncs with the TV show to provide information about what’s happening at that very moment in the show. In many cases, mobile devices are now the companion for watching TV where users are seeking information ranging from what other shows the cast has been in with a sitcom to detailed real-time sports stats during a game.

How will this impact mobile marketing?

This particular area is prime for innovative marketing ideas. Users are already deeply engaged in content of their choosing, thus presenting the chance to deeply integrate the marketing with the overall user experience. As with the other areas, the rapid growth of tablets will have a considerable impact and present the opportunity for heavy creative and experience-based campaigns.

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