For Mobile, Context Is The Differentiator

The mobile sector continues to show real and rapid growth in almost every metric relevant to an emerging business -- penetration of smart phones; time spent with mobile devices and with different functions; ad revenues etc.

The promise of the newest generations of mobile technology -- ranging from screen resolution and size to network speeds, connectivity etc. -- all combine to suggest that the sector itself is poised to deliver content, functionality and the kind of user experience that makes for a real uplift in the fortunes of providers and users alike.

Add to this the impact of the experiences delivered by tablet devices and one would be forgiven for thinking that we are on the cusp of a bright new dawn of mobile advertising revenues.

To a large extent, that seems a perfectly reasonable assumption.  Enhance what can be delivered, how it can be delivered and how it can be consumed, and the money will follow.  It makes intuitive sense and will turn out to be broadly true.

But the technology itself will only get us so far in the pursuit of increased revenues.  Perhaps the single factor that could benefit the mobile industry more than any other is not technology, but the effective leveraging of a characteristic far more fundamental to the medium -- mobility.

After all, part of the promise of mobile media is the “anywhere, anytime” promise that was part of the collective mantra a few years ago.  Mobile media -- probably more than any other -- gives marketers access to consumers throughout the day, wherever they are and whatever they are doing.

This provides the opportunity to deliver contextually relevant messages and to reach audiences when they are most receptive to the message, be it in the hours before they are most likely to visit the shops, when they are watching TV, when they’re commuting, etc.

It’s this ability to target audiences not simply on the basis of demographics and reach, that is the strongest point of difference mobile can leverage.

In effect, it makes mobile a contextually-driven medium -- arguably to a greater extent than any other -- and this provides possibly its strongest point of difference in the media mix.

While absolute numbers (reach and frequency) will never become irrelevant, the increase in contextually-influenced media planning practices means that mobile’s ability to reach audiences in contexts relevant to different marketers is likely to make the medium disproportionately valuable -- if properly leveraged.

Perhaps for mobile media at least, we should look at a “Reach & Frequency In Context” formula to determine media value -- with the context being defined by the marketers’ objectives.

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