Many end-of-year or dawn-of pieces open with the obligatory “My, hasn’t time has flown by?” or a “What a year it’s been!” statement. I will skip both, but go on record to say that 2012 was the year where mobile finally got top billing, a year where experts predicted that by 2017, more than 4% of all ads will appear on mobile phone screens and where the mobile mindset matured.
More than the technology itself, was how consumers used that technology and how brands capitalized on those uses.
No longer are consumers tethered to one place. And the type of engagement that users gain from their mobile experiences differs depending on location, whether it’s the beach, kitchen, office, train, or elsewhere.
For marketers, this means an unmatched opportunity to tailor their messages to these places of use while at the same time capitalizing on the four E’s – enhance, engage, experience and enjoy.
Now on to the technology itself and some of the trends we will see in the year ahead.
Setting off the proximity alarm: Geo-marketing is gaining traction
At times, I am shocked by how much farther this technology needs to advance. Of course, smart digital signage still lit up screens as it did minds in 2012, but I did not feel as though its “future had arrived.”
Take foursquare, a location-based social networking service. It has “only” reached 25 million users in the last three years. Compare that to Facebook, whose membership now exceeds 1 billion, or one-seventh of the human population.
With more people using more mobile more often, it is only natural marketers tap this resource.
Of course, there have been some encouraging 2012 examples ranging from KLM Airlines and its Meat and Seat social media program that allowed travelers to choose who they’d like to sit next to based on the sharing of personal information via social media, to a California-based organic foods company that launched a successful Twitter campaign.
Considering these successes, (and others) perhaps 2013 will see the growth of “hyper fencing,” or proximity-based offers and deals within a single shopping outlet or mall or airport?
Mobile payments and wallets usage will grow, but not prosper – yet
Mobile payments became a hot topic among industry experts and consumers in 2012, with 66% of the latter believing that mobile payments will eventually overshadow card payments.
Perhaps no better example of this trend emerged than with Apple’s Passbook, the loyalty program and gift card aggregator. The app has seen more than 20 companies join its ranks and the latest upgrade rumors hint at the possibility of NFC.
But Passbook is not mobile payments, and technologies such as Near Field Communication – NFC, or radio frequency contactless payments – that herald a new age of mobile wallets, doing away with paper cash and plastic card, have yet to mature.
The limited number of NFC-enabled devices – only 12 attendees at an NFC conference had the NFC enabled phones (ironic, no?) – as well as nagging security risks, namely third-party digital eavesdropping and the theft of personal data, will tend to keep NFC and the mobile wallet game a spectator sport – even if Passbook performs some kind of NFL-style NFC punt.
Augmented reality will augment the face of mobile
What used to be considered a fad that would eventually disappear has undergone a significant turnaround.
Recent Juniper research already predicts AR smartphone apps will generate $300 million in global revenue this year.
One company, Layar, began its AR focus on real estate in The Netherlands but has since moved on to print publications, banking the technology will prove most entertaining for consumers and revenue generating for marketers there.
Of course, to its detractors, AR might cause one to yell, “AAAARRRRR!!!!!” as it is not where prognosticators predicted it would be. But continued media interest reaffirms AR will augment the face of mobile – eventually.
Enhance, engage, experience and enjoy
Ultimately the four E’s are what matters most. Not just for consumers, but marketers as well.
When Motorola’s brick phone started us on our mobile path more than 30 years ago, few could have predicted how far and fast technological miniaturization would evolve.
The first mobile phones were not envisioned as enjoyable, engaging experiences but utilitarian devices performing tasks.
For marketers, though, that is the furthest thing from a successful product.
LIKE THOSE EARLY mobile models, many of the trends highlighted in this article – proximity, mobile payments and augmented reality – have yet to fully hit their stride.
But that is what prediction and prognostication is all about.
I, for one, am betting on mobile’s continued success – in the mindset and the handset.
This article originally appeared in Mobile Marketer on January 4, 2012. To read the entire article, please click here.