Many watchers of the interactive marketing industry say “The Future is Mobile.”
That’s a big tenet of Twitter’s recent IPO filing. And it may have been a factor in Salesforce.com’s recent monumental move into Marketing Automation with its acquisition of ExactTarget and its mobile marketing platforms earlier this summer.
A recent NY Times article speaks to this in the context of hyper-targeted ads. While “cookies” today are a valuable tool for tracking and targeting – even at a household level – they don’t work on many mobile devices.
This, combined with privacy concerns and consumers slowly-but-surely learning how to delete their cookies, makes the time right for alternative technologies. One example is Google’s recent announcement of its early-stage exploration of an alternative to cookies – an anonymous identifier in its Chrome browser – to track and target users based their online behavior.
In another example, the tech start-up Drawbridge has figured out how to follow people without cookies. They use behavioral algorithms to determine that a cellphone, work computer, home computer and tablet all belong to the same person, even if the devices are in no way connected.
Yet another company tracks and targets consumers based on the usage and profile data they capture from mobile apps – with its software already imbedded in 350,000 apps on 1.2 billion devices.
Mobile also has the benefit of location-targeting, e.g., serving a Starbuck’s coupon to someone who’s a block away from one of their shops. Or device-targeting – where a wireless company can use a phone’s unique identifier to infer how close the user is to the end of their service contract – and offer them an appropriate deal to switch or upgrade.
But the “Mobile Future” tends to dominate certain product categories (e.g., movies, travel), and not others. And it varies by locale and culture. For example, Europeans used their smartphones to book travel and lodging for many years before their U.S. counterparts.
And ad serving is only one step in the sales process. What about conversion?
Interestingly, while Mobile is a preferred platform for browsing, reading, and quickly getting information – the vast majority of conversions happen on desktops. Desktop conversions lead Mobile by 3:1.
So we’ll need to watch this “Mobile Future” evolve – likely at different rates for marketers of different product/service categories. In any case, it brings to mind the quote by novelist William Gibson,
“The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”