The Future of Mobile Advertising (Unless We Screw It Up)

Recently, I got in the car and my phone alerted me that it would take 20 minutes to drive to the office and that traffic was normal. A new feature of iOS9 is the ability for Apple Maps to detect when you enter your car by syncing with Bluetooth.

I didn’t find it an invasion.  In fact, living in one of the most gridlocked-plagued cities in the country, I welcomed the information.

Now that I’ve had a taste of IoT and “things connecting to things,” I wanted more -- and it has given me a glimpse of what the future of mobile advertising might look like. Ads will go from being disruptive to being useful, perhaps even helpful.

Mobile devices will become our digital doppelgänger signaling to other devices our presence, preferences and patterns.

For example, I’m on my way to LA for a meeting. My United app holds my flight itinerary, terminal and gate. Google/Apple Maps knows my current location, and my Starbucks app knows my buying behavior. My phone holds my intent, location and past purchasing history, which could trigger opportunities for promotional messages as I journey to my gate.

Given the early morning departure, I’m in desperate need of coffee.

On the “people mover,” the wall-mounted screens could flash me an offer as I pass, inviting me to stop at a convenient store location near my gate. In this new world, my order will be ready and waiting for me when I arrive. Being between two locations, and missing the closest one, I would appreciate this information, as I have no time to backtrack.

Here’s the point: We are quickly moving toward the ultimate marketing goal of getting the right message, to the right person, at the right time, and in the right place. But to enable this future, it must be data-driven and permission based.

So the challenge for marketers now is, how do we enable it and/or keep from screwing it up?

Here are four things to consider:

  • Retargeting – We have to stop being “creepy” by being better at targeting and knowing when to flick the “off switch.” Enough said on this topic; we all know the issues. Trying to be “personal” without having a relationship will get you into trouble.
  • Overemphasizing Acquisition – IAB reported that digital advertising increased by 20% and mobile by 66% in 2015. Yes, there are certain elements of digital that deserve the investment, but attribution issues still exist. Don’t play a nuclear arms race with digital and mobile investments. Take a hard look at your revenue mix and understand the most productive lead sources. Place your bets on improving conversion metrics, not just increasing volume. Don’t create a bunch of unnecessary noise at the top of the funnel.
  • Undervaluing Upsell, Cross Sell and Renewal – With a future built on permissions, and what you know about your audience, existing relationships are the perfect starting point. Invest in helping customers become better consumers by thinking for them. Reposition marketing activities from being interruptive to being helpful, innovative and informative. Proactively reach out to them with offers based on their behaviors by focusing on how it will help them in their role, and not necessarily how it directly benefits your organization. Trust me, it will come back to you.
  • Scrutinize Technology Investments – ChiefMarTech estimates that there are now over 3,500 MarTech providers. We’ve now reached a point that Larry Ellison once described as a “killing field.” Over the next few years, companies will either 1) run out of money, 2) merge or 3) be acquired. Carefully consider and select the partners to help build new mobile platforms, capabilities and tracking/measurement. Invest the time to get to know their business/funding model, existing customer base, and your account team. 

In the near future, highly personalized ads will spawn in real time based on consumers’ intent and location, and they won’t just appear on devices. Let’s hope that point arrives soon.

1 comment about "The Future of Mobile Advertising (Unless We Screw It Up)".
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  1. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, May 17, 2016 at 3:02 p.m.

    There are No Rules of the Road.

    The integrity of People's privacy and data must be maintained.

    Google and Facebook have Trust issues.


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