The Year of Mobile has passed… enter The Age of Mobile!

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65% of Australian adults are smartphone users[1]. 62% of Australians use three or more devices to access the internet[2]. 81% use multiple screens sequentially to accomplish a task over time[3]. We have all heard the stats before; mobile devices have dramatically transformed the way we connect as well as gather information. We are a hyper-connected society rarely without our mobile phones within walking distance. The mobile phone has become a human appendage. The year of mobile has passed, this is the age of mobile.

The great divide of mobile advertising spend and mobile usage is quite staggering. But this isn’t necessarily due to clients not understanding the power of the medium. Considering what we all know about mobile, why is the medium not being effectively harnessed?

The power of digital is in its targeting and measurement capabilities. The ability to target to an audience then optimise accordingly from campaign data is the backbone of all successful digital campaigns. The issue with mobile however is the current limited amount of measurement available. How can agencies effectively track mobile campaigns? How can agencies effectively optimise mobile campaigns from more than just clicks? Once these concerns are elevated, how will the frequency of mobile advertising be controlled from a cross device perspective? These questions will all determine when mobile advertising will begin to have a dominant presence on media plans.

But let’s forget about mobile from a traditional digital advertising perspective. Mobile has enabled screens to be in locations and contexts they have never been in before. This is an area where advertisers can create memorable executions that play to the strength of connected device mobility. Late last year when Sydney Trains announced an overhaul of their advertising policy, it was announced that digital screens would be installed at various train stations as well as on trains themselves. Imagine how mobile and digital screens could complement each other in this context; a context where everyone is usually already glued to their phones.

The mobile revolution is not something that just affects digital planning. Mobile can complement any form of traditional advertising. Ideas that utilise the flexibility of mobile with outdoor, TV and print will create more engaging experiences, rather than taking a siloed media approach. If you look at the 2013 Cannes mobile winners, most have the common denominator of utilising mobile with other media (World Wide Maze Japan, Back to Vinyl Germany, Window Shopping Finland). The lines between traditional advertising and digital advertising will continue to blur.

As advertisers, we can better harness the flexibility of mobile through combining mobile and traditional media. Although this type of advertising is not a safe option, it taps into the flexibility of mobile whilst getting people to actively engage with a brand in an innovative way. The behavioural differences between desktop, mobile and even tablets all impact on campaign planning. More than ever it is the context behind each device that shapes how advertisers will effectively connect.

Are we going to see an explosion in mobile advertising this year? Probably not. However, expenditure will continue to grow. Advertisers and brands will be forced to create broader mobile strategies, whether this be focused on traditional mobile display, working on providing better mobile brand experiences or harnessing the flexibility of mobile with traditional media. The intimacy of the mobile device will demand an increase in native ads that slide seamlessly into the personal experience.

Although measurement will continue to be the elephant in the room, advertisers must ensure that brands don’t develop an agnostic approach to mobile and instead proactively use the medium. Because if they don’t, their competitors will.

James Graff is our OMD Renegade Writer of the Month

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