Get Smart About Smartphone Users

The dominance of so-called "feature phones" is dwindling fast as consumers flip off their flip phones and migrate like lemmings to the world of smartphones -- mightily dominated by Androids and iPhones.

According to research from Pew Internet, more than 40% of U.S. consumers aged 15 and older has a smartphone. More important, digitally minded consumers are establishing real emotional bonds with their devices, making the smartphone much more than just a pocket-sized computer. This evolving bond between consumers and their phones presents new challenges and opportunities for marketers.

Although the phones function like computers, we don't interact with them the way we interact with our larger-screened computing devices. We are intimate with our smartphones. We touch them to our ears, hold them close to our faces and stare at them. We take them everywhere we go. We pay attention to them in ways our human partners only dream we'd pay attention to them. Thus, connecting with consumers on this platform can have a far more lasting impact than any display ad.



Even display ads, when leveraging the unique capabilities of the smartphone, can become much more than display ads. Ads that leverage rich media, make phone calls, integrate with social networks, are personalized with location relevance, utilize touch in clever ways or present mobile content, all give mobile ads a functional edge to encourage the opportunity for a higher level of engagement.

Marketers need to take advantage of both apps and the mobile web, and the two are deeply intertwined. Many mobile apps are continuously and seamlessly connected to the Internet, and in-app ads can be highly creative and engaging. They use -- to great effect -- both the dynamic interactivity of the web and the dynamic capabilities of the smartphone hardware--from accelerometers, to sound, video, vibration and more. Apps can also provide reliable targeting opportunities beyond what may be readily available on the mobile web.

Here's what marketers should consider when using smartphones to reach target consumers:

1) Consider the medium for creative. Assets should be conceived from scratch with mobile in mind. Simply tweaking existing creative assets to repurpose them for mobile is usually the wrong answer. Creative assets for smartphone ads should be built from the ground up taking into consideration how, when and where the user is likely to see them.

2) Get rich rewards from rich media. Smartphones can handle sound, animation and video, and they have a pervasive network connection. Rich media can creatively and very effectively leverage all these capabilities to turn an ad into an experience.

3) Leverage great mobile landing pages. You have someone's attention, now what? They are on a smartphone, so have your ad take them to a smartphone optimized landing page. Don't hope your website will look okay on a smartphone browser. Know that your ad will lead to a well designed, purpose driven, mobile landing page.

4) Make mobile content king. Images, video and music all look and sound great on today's smartphones. Consider offering branded mobile content (including ringtones, wallpaper images and videos) that consumers can save on their phones and share with their friends to proudly show their affinity for your brand long after the ad impression is over.

5) Tap into apps. You don't have to create apps to benefit from their popularity and functionality. In-app ads provide a platform for access to a highly targeted, captive and engaged audience. According to Compete's Q1 Smartphone Intelligence survey, 52% of smartphone owners remember ads they see in mobile apps while 40% said they recall ads from mobile websites they visit.

Chances are you have a smartphone yourself. When thinking about mobile marketing, look at your own behavior and your own "relationship" with your phone. What gets your attention? It might be smart to think about that too.

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