Today, with over 2 billion smartphones in use, the ways in which consumers experience brands is fundamentally different. This is no fad – it is projected that by 2020, 80% of adults on Earth will have a smart phone. The way we think of the “internet” as a place for brands must fundamentally change to reflect the rise of mobile.
In the internet of a decade ago, users experienced brands primarily through web browsers. Content was differentiated purely within the browser and had little ability to leave that medium. The reality of “that” internet is tied to the desktop and laptop computer, and the specific conventions with which they followed. Now, the experience of the internet is tied more and more to mobile devices. It is a totally different display experience on mobile. Content on a smartphone or tablet is not restricted to the window of a specific app; it is free to take the form of push notifications, in-app displays, and apps themselves. In this way, mobile devices themselves are free-game for brands to get themselves out there.
In the PR and marketing space, we hear a lot of talk about how mobile devices change the “brandscape” as we know it. There’s weight to this – brands with clever means of reaching users through mobile devices are rewarded handsomely with conversions. It’s no longer a matter of brands considering strong mobile adaptation. It is now a necessity.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways brands jump the border between browser and device – and how others can emulate them.
Every phone’s built-in GPS provides an interesting opportunity for app and content creators to deliver a tailored experience in real time. Ever wonder how Google Maps can tell you when there’s traffic on the road? It certainly is convenient that nearly everyone carries a mobile device with built-in GPS, devices that are constantly communicating that location data to outside parties.
Marketers and advertisers pay attention to this. For example, the MLB used Bluetooth Beacons in its ballparks to direct customers to their seats. It also shows customers the shortest path to snacks and refreshments, taking full advantage of a consumer’s momentary willingness to pay huge sums of money for a cold soda.
Push notifications are a another example of brands using an entire mobile device as a canvas for its message. Literally appearing on a screen with the same primacy as a text message or call, push notifications inform users of “important” events from apps. This could be a simple re-marketing message to get a dormant user back into a branded app, or a notification letting a user know of a timely thing they may be interested (such as a sale or live event).
Here’s an example of an app that uses push notifications: Refresh, an app which creates digital dossiers to use during meetings.
In-app messages allow users to experience a brand in a way they never could in-browser. A browser cannot allow content to jump the fence of its designated space within the application. However, mobile apps do not bear this same restriction, and can allow a wide range of messages. This is a great place for an upsell-type message, where a user can be encouraged to make an in-app purchase they wouldn’t usually make. For example, the music app Beats provides an opt-in message for users to enjoy a personalized playlist.
No longer is brand exposure characterized by “the internet” experience through a desktop or laptop. The rise of mobile changed the way we consume information, with huge impacts for brands. Now, brands have two options: adapt or go the way of the desktop. Clever brands will choose the first option, and likely gain an advantage over those who cling to older, non-mobile conventions.