Commentary

Mobile Is More Than An App - It's An Ecosystem

In a very short amount of time, the mobile device -- whether used as a primary or secondary screen -- has become consumers' platform of choice for digital engagement and is now vital to interactive brand experiences. This unprecedented growth -- from tablets, to phablets and smartphones -- has caused PC sales to decline for the first time. Now that consumers are using mobile devices more than ever before to access information, videos and other content, it's imperative for brands to stop approaching mobile as a platform for apps, and to begin thinking of mobile as an ecosystem. The mobile ecosystem encompasses all of the platforms, technologies and techniques used to make digital content accessible on any device. Now more than ever, marketers need to think holistically to take advantage of all of the opportunities that mobile provides.

Mobile is the Primary Screen

According to recent research from The Pew Research Center, nearly half of consumers in the Millennial age group, 18-29, use mobile devices as their primary device for accessing the Internet -- demonstrating that mobile is integral to reaching this demographic. Also, with M-commerce and 49% of video viewing happening on mobile, brands must ensure more than ever before that their mobile experiences are seamless and provide a consistent user experience and message. 

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Take the recent redesign of Audi USA. In the past, producing a seamless experience that includes the high-end design, video, and interactivity that the luxury car market demands would likely have involved sacrifices on design or functionality depending on the target screen -- especially as the majority of car Web sites in the past decade have been based on Flash. With this redesign, using responsive principles, Audi did not have to compromise on any of these factors. Mobile and tablet users have identical experiences as desktop users, decreasing the likelihood of viewership drop off on mobile.

Go Where Your Consumers Are

Marketers should be investing their marketing dollars where consumers are already playing, versus creating new places (apps) for them to go. The App Annie Index recently noted that Vine was the top-downloaded non-game app in June, while Instagram users uploaded 5 million videos in the first 24 hours of the launch. 

For example, for a campaign for a major telecomm corporation, the Web site was built using the popular Vine app as the platform for the video content. Using responsive design techniques, it was built to work universally on various mobile devices, as well as desktops making the brand a seamless part of the Vine experience.

Invest in Creating the Right Mobile Infrastructures

Mobile is a complex landscape that is constantly evolving, making marketers hesitate to invest too deeply. To create rich immersive experiences, at the beginning of the process for each project, brands and agencies must evaluate the project holistically to determine the best practices for best execution. User experience has always been key to any successful app, and it's even more important when planning multiplatform applications. Before any technology or design is defined, you should develop wireframes detailing the optimal architecture for every possible platform.

Some additional considerations to consider include where and when to use responsive design, how to integrate Vine, Instagram and other apps, and whether to allow user-generated content that is created and uploaded by the user.

So do you actually need to create that app, or do you need to be smarter about how you use mobile? This ecosystem has a bright and promising future, and it's up to marketers and agencies to embrace and invest in it, rather than react to what is already happening. There's more than an app for that.

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