Let Audience Drive Emerging Platform Strategy

Digital health has received a tremendous amount of attention over the last year with the mobile adoption driving a more fragmented ecosystem for publishers, users and marketers. No longer is one screen, or even two, a consumer’s resource for information and services. The linchpin for successfully engaging in this splintered environment is focusing first on user experience. 

Disruption coming from smartphones and tablets has forced many companies to focus first on technology — advertisers are rushing to create mobile-only/mobile-first strategies — instead of understanding how consumers demand, access and consume digital media across devices on a typical day. It explains why one in four mobile apps downloaded is never opened again. This technology-focused approach ignores an essential piece of audience behavior: the desire of consumers to seek knowledge at a specific time.

To ensure the information seeker’s digital world is frictionless, publishers and advertisers must examine audiences and their devices to find trends and behaviors that map to particular audience connectedness across different screens. Once that user journey is identified, the trick is to marry elegant utility with contextually relevant content. 

Take, for example, the expectant mother. Even before she embarks on her pregnancy journey, she diligently tracks her fertility and ovulation from her smartphone while still searching for in-depth information on her laptop. However, she is often on-the-go so she requires access to that same comprehensive content on her phone but in a format that is easily viewable. Imagine she just left her OBGYN appointment with a slew of recommendations from her doctor.

Her first instinct, in the elevator, is to do a search for those topics on her phone. By providing a clean, mobile-optimized version of that website, the publisher ensures that information reaches her at the point of need. The next morning before leaving work she checks her email on her laptop while she eats breakfast. In her inbox, she finds a newsletter that piques her interest about breastfeeding. And once the baby is born, she is using her phone again with an app to track the feeding schedule and her baby’s milestones to share with family and friends. 

By creating a point of engagement to help the new mom keep track of not only her health information, but also questions she wants to ask her friends, family and her physician on any device, the publisher creates stickiness for that ongoing behavior. It isn’t just helping her do one activity, but helping her participate better in her child’s care. Understanding this continuum means we can create a cross-platform strategy that speaks to her needs and natural behavior, giving her access to content and tools whenever and wherever she wants it.

It’s just not enough to have mobile programs in place to target one audience on only one platform. Instead, marketers must continually learn from their audience’s behavior and responsiveness in each channel. It’s important to understand that as mobile technology and adoption evolves, so does the device’s influence over the user’s decision making, buying habits and consequently a brand’s reputation. This means that all mobile initiatives need to be fluid, derive intrinsic value, and connect the dots from screen to screen.

Focusing less on creating individual apps for individual devices and more on creating personalized services across multiple platforms can move companies to an audience-platform strategy and away from a device-specific strategy. Consider mobile as less of a channel. Apps, SMS, mobile web, and even QR codes are the channels. Each one presents unique advantages, so take time to find the appropriate use for the technologies you should leverage. The daily journey your audience takes and how they access, value and consume digital media will define your strategy.

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