Maybe You Should Stop Calling It 'Mobile'?

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time you stop referring to the mobile industry as “mobile," because you’re simply perpetuating a silo of thought that no longer applies.

Think about it. This is the year mobile time spent and ad spending surpassed what we have lovingly referred to as “desktop” for so many years (that data according to numerous sources, including eMarketer).

We live in a truly wireless, truly connected world.  What was referred to as mobile has now become the foundation for all things digital.  As we progress to the connected home, the connected car and the Internet of things, the ways mobile platforms have been established are now the bedrock by which we connect everything together.

Cookies are still functioning even though many people prognosticated their demise over the last few years, and increasingly there are new ways to identify users through both deterministic as well as probabilistic methods.  Each of these new methods was created because of mobile and its reliance on other forms of identification beyond cookies.  Those various methods are now being used to underpin the cookie landscape and provide overlap to connect the single, unified view of the consumer in an anonymized, consumer-safe manner.   If the methodologies are being used universally, why should we still delineate between “mobile” and the rest of the digital landscape?



Facebook marked its first ever 1-billion-visitor day earlier this year.  We all know a huge portion of those visitors accessed Facebook via mobile, and Facebook is leading the way to make sure it identifies the audience regardless of how they come in.  This results in what many call a “mobile-first” approach, where you don’t delineate between mobile and other platforms, but you do plan for mobile audience first, with all other platforms falling in line behind it.  This is a unified approach that I think makes sense given that so much of the business is going to continue in this direction.  

What’s also important is that if you look at how the money is spent in “mobile” advertising, over 70% of the spending happens on nine companies, and these are not “mobile” companies, they are digital companies (according to eMarketer, these include Facebook, Google, Twitter, Apple, Pandora, etc.).  

Mobile becomes a device that functions as a proxy for who who someone is because of the association with the individual — more so than any computer ever has done.  Mobile can be used as a proxy for understanding audience in television, and even outdoor media.  Mobile can connect different media formats together and provide a platform for transactions.  It’s a powerful media format, but we do it a disservice when we look at it as a silo.

I know I’m not proposing anything radical in terms of thought, but I’m a marketer — and perception is reality, in my eyes.  If you keep talking about mobile as a separate silo, it will remain one in the eyes of those that matter: those with the budgets. 

Stop talking about mobile separately and start speaking about it as a connector and the foundation for everything digitally going forward.  Once that happens, your options open up dramatically and some extremely impressive things are bound to happen.  And they will happen quickly -- I promise.

5 comments about "Maybe You Should Stop Calling It 'Mobile'?".
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  1. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., October 21, 2015 at 3:30 p.m.

    Right on, Cory. I almost always agree with you, but I definitely agree about this. It amazes me so much of the industry has organized around the notion that mobile is a medium, not a way of connecting to media.

  2. David Baker from Cordial, October 21, 2015 at 3:58 p.m.

    Very nice post Cory!  As the world of IoT matures, we believe its not only mobile first, but how we look at the utility of devices and how we use them interchangeably to manage our lives, its more than a platform or channel or consumer behavior, its a complete shift in thinking around in-home, out-of-home (time and place shifting) and I think will fundamentally shift how we think about apps and advertising.   Keep Plugging!

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, October 21, 2015 at 5:38 p.m.

    Reminds me of a house of cards. One goes and it all falls down. Separate.

  4. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, October 24, 2015 at 6:41 p.m.

    Mobile is one useful way to communicate that audiences are not tethered to living rooms and especially not to linear networks. Viewers start shows at their desktop and finish them on mobile screens. How else can you describe the new way that media content is consumed? (And who said advertising even matters anymore? Netflix is how I watch most of my media content, when I'm not skipping broadcast ads on TiVo or ad-blocking my web browser.)

  5. Alfonse D'Amato from NYC Gov, November 3, 2015 at 4:04 p.m.

    Not "calling it mobile" may be a reasonable buy-side distinction, but it doesn't work sell-side.  The driver for categorizing/identifying is the different infrastructure that is often required to support the model and a need to justify the investments required.  

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