All research suggests that people are spending more and more time on their mobile devices — searching, shopping, communicating, sharing, and gaming. But most take for granted the superior hardware inside our devices that enables us to perform these daily tasks in a seamless, fluid manner.
A significant piece of hardware will be the key that unlocks more utility from both a consumer and advertising perspective — namely, sensors. Why? Read on.
Emergence of Device Sensors
Over the past 12 months, we have witnessed a revolution as more sensors are embedded into our favorite handheld devices, empowering apps to become helpful and powerful tools in daily life. What you probably don’t realize is that if you bought a smartphone within the last year or two, you likely have more than ten different sensors inside your device.
For example, the most popular smartphones over the past year — Galaxy S5 and iPhone 5S — have fingerprint sensors that unlock phones, making it easier to keep our most personal device exclusive to us, while also making it simpler to quickly open our phone for access. They also both have 3-axis accelerometers, gyroscopes, proximity, and light sensors. And with the recent introduction of the iPhone 6 and announcement of the Apple Watch, new sensors like barometers and heart rate monitors are rapidly making their debut to the Apple product line.
In the coming months, there’s no doubt that we will see even more sensors added into our mobility devices, and the processors for our devices will become more sophisticated, enabling our smartphones to become the digital nerve center for our lives. By way of smartphone “senses,” if you will, our devices will hear (via microphones), see (via cameras), touch (via multi-touch screen), and locate (GPS + Magnetometer), becoming even more specific to individual consumers.
Mobile Advertising Today
The majority of mobile advertising today is primarily focused on app install efforts, and a great many ads are simple banners running across gaming apps. But we’re starting to see savvy brands incorporate rich media into their mobile advertising and exploit the interactivity available on these multi-touch devices.
For years we have talked about how mobile advertising should always drive consumer interaction and take advantage of the native device features. Elements like tapping, swiping, and even shaking have become mainstream interactive features in rich mobile advertising. And this has created an environment for brands to come to life in a way that has not been possible across desktops.
But this is just the beginning.
Tomorrow’s Mobility Advertising
The future of mobile advertising relies on how brands can and should tap into these device sensors.
Imagine presenting your target audience with an ad that prompts the consumer to ‘like’ your brand by 'drawing' a heart in the air with one’s phone, taking advantage of the accelerometer and gyroscope. Or what if your ad utilized the compass sensor and had the creative dynamically adjust to point in the direction of the nearest retail establishment where that brand’s products are sold?
The possibilities for brands to utilize device sensors are boundless and simple to enable — just by asking the consumer to move, twist, or tilt a device! Creating these moments of brand engagement not only develops memorable experiences, but they also make it fun and rewarding for the consumer.
And with more wearable devices on the way, we're about to embark on a new era of mobility advertising. Agencies, brands, and media providers need to unite to explore the various sensors available in an effort to extract creativity in a completely new way — a way that is unique to portable, sensor-laid devices.
This is the way that mobility advertising will be most successful moving forward. It’s about creating harmony between consumer and brand, allowing consumers to enjoy and appreciate brand messaging on their most coveted devices.
This is certainly a step in the right direction, but unfortunately for Apple, there isn't much about iAd that is nearly as cutting edge as the hardware on iPhone 6, iPad Air 2, etc. That's why the industry is beginning to see Android as where the big boys in mobile advertising -- real innovators like Airpush, Opera Mediaworks, etc. -- are doing the most sophisticated work. The team behind iAd could learn from them.