The mobile revolution: what does it mean for your brand?

As part of my personal "refresh" program for this year I'm doing a digital marketing course sponored by Google, called We are Squared. Over 6 months there is roughly one class per week, that you attend remotely on your PC.

This is the first of a series of posts I'll do with some highlights from the course. The post is about the revolutionary changes being brought about by the explosive growth in mobile connectivity. If you're highly techno-literate, then you may want to skip this post. If you are, like me, in need of improving your knowledge about digital technology, read on.

Mind blowing data: highlights

Through the course I've exposed to some mind blowing data from various consultancies. Here are a few highlights.

– Mobile internet traffic: first up, what % of global internet traffic do you think is mobile, and what is it forecast to be at the end of this year? Bear in mind in 2010 the figure was 5%. 

The figures for now/end 2014 are 15% and 25%. The absolute figure is pretty amazing, but what's most impressive is the rate of growth – see below.

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– Mobile advertising "gap": we have only started to see the impact of mobile on advertising, with a huge potential for growth. In the USA, TV takes up 42% of peoples' time spent on media, and accounts for  43% of ad spend (below). You could say that TV has its "fair share" of ad spend. But look at mobile, the far right columns. It takes up 12% of peoples' time spent on media, but accounts for only 3% of ad spend, suggesting a big growth opportunity. Now look at the figures for press (far left columns) and you can see why magazine or newspaper owners are worried. Press still accounts for 23% of ad spend, but only 6% of time!

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– Growth in iPad vs. iPhone: 
the mobile revolution has been amplified by the explosive growth in iPads and other tablets. Remember, the iPad has only just celebrated its 4th birthday. To see how fast the iPad has grown, check out the data below for quarterly shipments since launch (blue) vs the iPhone (brown) and iPod (green).

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What could it mean for you?

Start learning: Firstly, whatever category you are in, you need to be experimenting with mobile as a communication channel, if you are not already. The data above suggests that mobile internet usage will continue to grow quickly, and that at some point mobile's share advertising should get closer to its share of media consumption. Search is also important to consider, as mobile search has grown by 5 times in the last couple of years. For example, if you're a food brand, how could you capitalise on the thousands or even millions of people on the way home from work typing "What shall I eat tonight?" into their mobile?

Time and location based marketing:  The biggest opportunities for mobile marketing are of course linked to the ability to respond to consumer needs based on time and location. Is there are an opportunity for your brand to tap into this potential? For example, the Magnum brand is looking at mobile marketing based on temperature and location. If its a hot day and you're near an ice cream vendor, "ping", you can get a coupon to buy a Magnum. 

Understand the total impact of mobile:  When costing out the impact of mobile marketing on your brand, you need to take into account not only the immediate mobile response, but also the impact on other channels. For example, 17% of people using mobile search go on to visit a physical store and of the 18% who spread word of mouth, most of these do this in person.

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Be mobile friendly:  
Initial mobile marketing simply translated PC based design onto mobile phones, creating a disappointing user experience. However, the most effective brands have now figured how to design specifically for mobile, with suggestions from Google below.

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In conclusion, the explosive growth in mobile technology is likely to impact all brands, and its time to start looking at this and experimenting, if you haven't already.