Phygital Phantoms, Aliens And Other Mobile Mysteries Of The Week

Penning “Mobile Insider” every other week is either a feast or a famine in terms of relevant news about mobile media and marketing worth weighing in on. This past week was a feast, most likely because it coincided with the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which ends today.

So if you don’t mind, I’m going to treat this week’s edition as a round-up of some important nuggets -- mostly trends and insights, but also at least one bit of surprising news, at least for Google Pixel users like me.

Let’s start by getting phygital -- the overused and overwrought, but arguably increasingly appropriate, term to describe the convergence of the physical and digital worlds of media, marketing and commerce.

First up is a study I received from S&P Global Market Intelligence, timed for release at this week’s mobile congress, which benchmarks consumer intent for the rollout of 5G networks. Interestingly, it’s not for better mobile bandwidth as much as the kind they use in the comfort of their homes.

The analysis sources a Kagan study of mobile network executives, who believe boosting connectivity and bandwidth within the home is actually the No. 1 draw.

Specifically, 82% cited “connected homes” as the top reason motivating consumers to adopt 5G, while the No. 2 reason is residential wireline broadband replacement (68%).

No. 3 was ultra high-definition streams in and out-of-the-home (63%), No. 4 was gamers seeking low latency internet connections (51%), and No. 5 was cloud gaming (40%).

And while much of those applications could be happening on a mobile device, the important insight is, it’s mostly about things transpiring inside the home.

On the other side of the phygital spectrum, independent agency SCS this week released a comprehensive ecommerce study indicating that technology, as well as cultural shifts (like the COVID-19 pandemic) have accelerated the shift toward “brick & mobile” retail purchasing.

Brick & mobile, of course is a mashup combining so-called brick-and-mortar (physical retail) with mobile technology, including applications like “showrooming” people using their phones to research and buy, but shopping for physical products in an actual store.

SCS’s report dubs this phenomenon “phygital phantoms,” and suggests this is a new consumer “archetype” retail and brand marketers need to understand, because it seamlessly blurs the lines between physical, digital and mobile shopping experiences.

Or as the report explains, they are “ ‘everywhere shoppers’ using their smartphones to enhance their shopping experience.

“They’ve returned to retail stores, but blur the lines between online and offline, simultaneously using their mobile devices to gather information, compare prices, and seek reviews and opinions while in-store.” (See findings in chart above.)

Another blurring of the lines of -- well, mobility, if not explicitly mobile devices -- was a sponsored content pitch I got pushed to me this week by Campaign magazine and WazeAds, the location-based, in-car ad sales operation of Google's Waze navigation service.

"Cars are no longer digital blind spots," the un-bylined native content (ie, ad) article published by Campaign touts, adding: "The outside world has entered the in-car world."

But perhaps the most perplexing convergence of mobile and another media technology was a report I read from The Verge that people using Google Pixel phones who watch a clip from the classic Ridley Scott horror film "Alien" on YouTube crash their phones.

The article doesn't explain why, whether it's a technical glitch, some ingenious movie marketing hype, or something paranormal, but here it is below. Just don't play on a Pixel phone.

But most of you are probably safe, because my own informal survey of advertising and media execs indicates that 101% of you use iPhones.

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