2010, The Year Of Mobile -- Finally

This post in 140 characters or less: 2010 will be the year mobile marketing finally realizes its potential according to @joemarchese

Almost three years ago (wow, that sounds like ages ago) I wrote a column titled "2007 Mobile Advertisers Ask: Can You See Me Now?" It was fun to go back and read the 2007 piece again, and I am proud to say, I believe I was right on target predicting that despite all the promise, mobile marketing would continue to fall short of the hype. I felt pretty good about all of the reasons I listed in the 2007 column -- that, like every year before, and every year after, mobile would continue to give marketers fits.

But this year, I am ready to call it. This is it. 2010 will be the year mobile marketing begins to realize the promise marketers have imagined for so long.

What's different in 2010? The phones are smarter, the networks are faster, an open development ecosystem is leading to faster innovation, and specialty mobile agencies have built up a solid knowledge base of what works. Other than that, I guess everything is the same.



The phones are not just faster with bigger screens -- which would help all by itself -- they are more and more commonly location-aware. Even more important, phones users are aware that their phones are aware of their location.

Location awareness and faster network speeds are a huge part of why mobile is moving forward, but both would be meaningless without the third ingredient: the opening up of mobile platforms.

It's hard not to sound like just another Apple fanboy, but the iTunes App Store has already had a massive impact on the way consumers use their mobile devices. Creating an open platform for development allowed developers to create mobile experiences that add significant value to people's lives, changing the way they use their mobile devices. This opens the door to marketers to offer a value exchange, one that didn't exist for people before. This was the issue I had in 2007: sure, marketers would love to get on people's phones, but what did people get out of the deal?

There might not be a better example of the saying that any significant leap in technology is indistinguishable from magic. Yelp, Pandora, Foursquare and Google Maps apps on my phone all qualify as magic to me. For a great summary of this innovation, see "Future Of Geo-targeted Marketing, Now" by Razorfish's Garrick Schmitt.

Now, let me hedge just a little. 2010 will be the year mobile begins to realize its potential for marketers. Mobile as a platform is in the middle hyper-evolution. The ability to utilize mobile for marketing now exists, but it is evolving so fast it's hard to create best practices that are repeatable. That's what 2010 will be all about. There will be some huge success in mobile that will point everyone in the right direction.

As an aside, I am currently on the BlackBerry Storm and have been considering switching to the Droid. Any Droid users out there with thoughts? What apps are magic to you? Find me on Twitter @joemarchese (, where I'll keep up from my mobile, and/or leave a comment on the Spin board.

5 comments about "2010, The Year Of Mobile -- Finally".
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  1. John Berard from Credible Context, December 15, 2009 at 4:47 p.m.

    Count me as voting in favor of mobile in 2010, but the platform's capability will shine a light on features that could be a drag on marketing -- privacy and permission.

    Just because someone downloaded an app doesn't mean they knew all it did and weeks or months down the road will likely remember even less. Just look at the recent Sears settlement.

    And being aware that our devices know where we are is not the same as permission to tell people. I mean, we grant Google the right to read our email, but getting an ad tied too tightly to the conversation can be creepy.

    The reign of "notice and choice" has given online consumers little of either. Advertisers are looking at notice in context and choice at the point of real decision.

    There is a chance, though, in 2010 for this last hurdle to be cleared. Our "persisten contact" with our smart phones, the speed of their browsers and advertisers use of short codes and 2-D barcodes stands to remake privacy and permission in real-time.

    That would be cool.

  2. Thom Kennon from Free Radicals, December 15, 2009 at 7:02 p.m.

    Hat's off to you Joe - it takes noive to hollah "it's finally here!".

    Altho you could argue it's been "here" for at least two years - at least for much of the still select consuming public that will partake in the raft of evolving goodies you litanize here that are getting better, faster etc..

    But there's a problem--- as long as the vast majority of consumers are still paying precious dollars for precious wireless minutes the carriers themselves will keep a lid on the "year of mobile" for many of the poor guys whose noses are still pressed against the glass watching us switched on mobi-rati play with our company-paid-for devices and services.

    That's why it's interesting to watch moves like Google buying 'white spaces' and other smartphone brands like Nokia eyeing Skype users in key urban patches.

    To paraphrase an old political wag - "it's the carriers stupid". As long as they continue to wring every usurious cent out of their networks and helpless customers - and/or the Googles, Nokias or god help us Apples of the world set them free of their toll road tethers - true democratic, ubiquitous "years of mobile" will be hard to hollah backatcha...

  3. Jeff Bach from Quietwater Media, December 16, 2009 at 11:22 a.m.

    TV, also known as "bumpers around ads" (as one of my camera guys likes to say), from the get-go has been an advertising medium. The entire ecosystem of TV is more or less built around making it as easy as possible for people to consumer more of it, without charge. After all, the more "bumpers" are consumed, the more ads are seen, thus making those underwriting CPG companies happy. An advertiser-supported ecosystem (somewhat anyway). You might think of TV as a commodity, available in huge supply for very low cost.

    In comparison, phones are communication devices.
    We talk or listen in response to a stimulus. We either need to say something to someone or vice versa. We don't leave it on for hours to provide background noise. The whole ecosystem around a phone has grown up around communication. NOT advertising. Relative to the TV ecosystem, the phone infrastructure has been built up without any advertising underwriters in mind, with talkers and listeners paying monthly for the privilege to use what is still mostly someone else's private property. A member supported ecosystem (somewhat anyway). You might think of a phone as a specialty, available in limited supply for significant cost.

    I find Joe's premise to be well written but not completely true. Yet. The part I agree with is that change is happening. The mobi-rati, many of whom have their bill paid by someone else, are starting to see their phone as entertainment. The usage is changing over to a TV-styled commodity.

    But for the seething hordes of digital unwashed (about 375 million of us), who pay their own bills and remain aware of their minutes, the phone is still a specialty. Available in limited supply. Use only when needed.

    I did go to the AT&T store last night. First time ever to a phone "store" of any kind. That iphone is really calling my name......

  4. Jeff Bach from Quietwater Media, December 16, 2009 at 12:06 p.m.

    Thom from Wunderman should get credit for "mobi-rati" and the very astute observation that many in the mobile space are not paying their own bills. His words were a light bulb moment for me.

  5. Marcia Noyes from Healthagen, December 27, 2009 at 10:41 a.m.

    Joe is "spot on" with his comment that "[mobile] is evolving so fast it's hard to create best practices that are repeatable".

    The company I work for, Healthagen, is doing that with the iTriage mobile software. <a href=""></a>. Staying on top of this evolution isn't easy. Seems like every month, we're looking at yet another up and coming mobile phone that needs a different application.

    Being an iPhone-only application is no longer enough to satisfy the growing numbers of mobile users or the companies that want to reach those users.

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