Mobile Matters

Posted April 25, 2014 by Jerry Shereshewsky (@shereshewsky)

Two big questions:  Does mobile really matter and to whom does it matter.  The answers to these are not the same.

Let’s start with the basics:  does mobile matter?  I spend a lot of time watching normal people.  I commute by train and subway.  I work in NYC which means I’m on the street a lot.  So I see people.  And they’re almost all always doing something with their phone.  It’s amazing.  Stand on the street and count them as they walk buy.  Look at the people on the subway car.  How many of them are engrossed with their phone?  So, at the very least, mobile matters to them.

  • It’s a tool that connects them to their networks.  48% of daily users of Facebook are now mobile-only!  And now about the same percentage of Facebook’s advertising revenue comes from mobile ads! 
  • It’s their camera.  And, unlike what we understand as cameras, these are connected to those same networks by Facebook and lots of other tools. 
  • It’s their radio; whether iTunes, Pandora, Spotify or whatever, it’s how lots of people connect to their music of choice.
  • It’s their 1:1 communications device.  Whether phone, email or SMS, it is how we are are ‘talking’ to our friends individually. 

Frankly my only reason for a desktop computer at all is that the screen is bigger (and I have two of them) and the mouse makes things like spreadsheets easier to use.  And my laptop is history.  It’s now an iPad.

So, yes, mobile matters because it has become, very quickly after the introduction of the iPhone, an indispensable part of our lives.

But aside from the users themselves, why should we, as marketers, pay special attention to mobility?

First there’s the arbitrage.  Way more time (and media consumption) is happening on mobile devices than the percentage of marketing and ad dollars allocated to these media.  This means the environment is significantly less cluttered and your ad is more likely to be seen and noticed (and acted upon). 

That’s good news, but mobile matters for some other less felicitous reasons.  We, as an industry, really don’t know how to take advantage of this medium.  Back in the mid 1990’s, as the internet was just becoming ‘real’ we had absolutely no idea how to exploit the medium.  There were bandwidth constraints.  There was need for additional utilities (Java, as an example).  And, because the internet was a personal, lean forward, medium we didn’t know how to make ads that didn’t turn off our audience.  The same is absolutely true about mobile today.

Pay attention to the ubiquity of mobile.  And pay special attention to what works…for you.  Both will be excellent lessons.