The Mobile Medium Is Not The Message: It's Much, Much More

I know this will sound like heresy to readers of Mobile Insider, but I don’t believe mobile is a medium, per se. And yes, I understand that people look at and/or listen to content on their mobile devices.

But if you ask me, it’s really just place-shifting and/or time-shifting media experiences they would have rendered in other ways at other times.

Like the internet before it, mobile actually is an enabling technology that unlocks media experiences that might not otherwise be possible. Increasingly, the experience it's enabling is one that helps advertisers understand what consumers are doing, where they are, and what they may or may not have done in the past.

As I wrote in a news story breaking this morning, the ubiquitous distribution of individuals’ mobile devices has created the ability to enable marketing experiences in many other media, especially out-of-home ones, because now marketers, research and data companies have the ability to ping and triangulate what people are doing and where they are doing it.



I’m not going to go into the consumer privacy and/or opt-in issues associated with this ability, because that’s a Mobile Insider for another day. I’m just talking about the reality of the fact that mobile devices have become something of a location-based census for marketers trying to understand the who/what/when/where/why of consumer behavior.

I was reminded of this when I was getting briefed by the teams at consumer data giant Catalina and out-of-home media-buying platform AdQuick, which have come up with a means of measuring consumer behavior in front of out-of-home ads -- both static and digital -- by leveraging consumer device IDs to associate them with Catalina’s humongous real-time database, as well as its panel.

The system isn’t perfect, because a significant percentage of consumers may or may not be in those databases, but Catalina can still factor those “unknown” users into other “probabilistic” buckets, and model consumer behavior -- pre- and post-ad exposures -- based on it.

The universe isn’t perfect, and privacy policies, regulation and laws will likely create more and more friction over time, but barring some major event, mobile is basically enabling the marketing and media experiences well beyond the principle of ads and/or content placed on mobile phone screens.

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