“What are you trying to achieve?” is a common question that publishers and marketing solutions providers ask their clients in order to craft campaigns. But according to new research from BBDO and AOL, it is the key question we should be asking of consumers on devices. In recent months, many in the industry have been talking less about extending media as we know it onto the portable screen and more about capturing people at various stages of their day, in different moods and modes. The comprehensive study of BBDO and AOL just conducted on over 1,000 users’ responses and behaviors suggests that targeting on mobile requires a deeper look into motives as well.
These researchers argue that the mobile moments they have observed usually are being driven by seven discrete “mobile motivations” that help define the nature of the usage and the nature of the opportunity for marketers. Foremost, they reiterate an understanding that other researchers have underscored of late: the overwhelming majority of mobile phone use (68%) is happening in the home, not “on the go.” I think most people who have been watching the metrics over the last year have come to see, if not appreciate, this fundamental reality: that mobile as we have been calling it is more “portable” media than anything else.
But once you establish that place is not necessarily the key indicator of use case, it opens your mind to deeper understandings of what is driving the many different kinds of device use that occur in the same place -- home. AOL/BBDO boil it down to these motives, which are of course general and abstract, because motive is by definition a vague sort of force that drives all sorts of specific actions.
Accomplish: using the device to manage information or life to gain some sense of accomplishment
Socialize: self-explanatory, but characterized by direct engagement with others over the device
Prepare: planning for upcoming activity
Me Time: relaxation, time-passing
Discover: actively seeking information
Shop: looking for a product or service
Express Myself: participating in a passion
Obviously, there is a lot of crossover among these general categories. After all, isn’t game-playing motivated both by me time and achievement? Isn’t expression a social function usually aimed at specific people? But like all constructs of behavior, these must be regarded as contingent and more useful than absolute.
But they are useful in that they help marketers think about and target (or avoid) states of mind where they really are not welcome. For instance, according to the researchers, Me Time constitutes the biggest share of mobile time (46%), and much of that time is spent in lean-back media consumption mode. The study found that mobile advertising actually performs most poorly when the user is me time-motivated because the messaging easily feels irrelevant to the user’s state of mind or is more readily regarded as interruptive and irritating.
By the way, the other motives have a much lower share of mobile time spent: socialize (19%), shop (12%), accomplish (11%), prepare (7%), discover (4%) and Express myself (2%).
In order to get at these behaviors, the research group InsightsNow combined multiple styles of investigation, ranging from video diaries by users to interviews and surveys and actual clickstream analysis. The combination of methods may be as important as the initial findings. They suggest the ways in which we need to get beyond some of the traditional and easy research methods to understand the complexity of our relationship to these devices.
But directionally, I like how this research moves beyond our own rhetoric about “mobile moments” or even my recent focus on “moods” and “modes.” While the idea of human “motive” is related to all of these ways of conceptualizing mobile uses, “motive” is sharper because it identifies not only the nature of an activity on the devices, but what is driving the activity. If ultimately, much of mobile marketing is aimed at eliciting an action of some kind, then understanding the “why” behind someone’s “mobile moment” is as critical as understanding “what” they are doing.