Mobile, mobile, mobile. It’s all marketers want to talk about anymore. And with good reason: In light of recent, dramatic behavioral shifts to tablets and smartphones, brands are grasping for ways to reach customers who are spending less time at a desktop or laptop and more time on the go.
But after a teaser video from Google’s Project Glass made the rounds recently, giving a glimpse at life, with the company’s reality-augmenting glasses, it became clear that mobile is just the tip of the wireless iceberg.
The ship is sailing into the unchartered waters toward a post-mobile world where we’ll all be connected, all the time. The boundaries will blur between what is and isn't a device, and with everything mobile, labels like “wired” and “wireless” will become meaningless. Consumers will start looking to technologies and brands to simplify how we engage with the world and information around us.
So how can brands ensure they’re prepared for the changes taking shape before our very eyes? By paying close attention to these five trends that I’m betting will define our collective post-mobile future:
- Smart Everything: The reason Google glasses really capture the imagination is that they seem to make the stuff of sci-fi a reality. And they’re just one of the ways in which technology’s moving in on previously analog parts of our lives. For instance, our homes. Check out this futuristic mirror from Cybertecture that’s doing things George Jetson would recognize. Like this mirror, new screens -- “fifth screen,” anyone? – from watches, to kitchen appliances, to goggles, will put us at the center of a wall of intelligent data, that Adam Ferrier of Naked Communications says, “represents a paradigm shift in advertising as much as it represents a change in the way we use computers on the move. It means ads everywhere, and different kinds of ads too…”
- Tech Gets Physical: We are witnessing advancements in biotech - and I don’t mean cloning or genetic modification, but the introduction of technology to our very bodies. Data comes from everywhere these days, including our cells. Companies like FitBit are finding new ways to record and leverage that data. For now, they seem to be focused on helping athletes (and wannabes) build better workouts, but it’s only a matter of time before brands begin to look more closely at how such data might be used to develop new customer relationships.
- User-Centrism: One of the most interesting trends we’ve seen in the world of media is the fragmentation of ownership – technology has empowered the masses, and they’re leveraging their power in new ways every week. This is nothing new, but it is something to keep an eye on. Because if brands want to remain relevant to their audiences, they’re going to have to engage in a media landscape where the traditional publishing model no longer exists. Pinterest, Flipboard, and other curation tools are where it’s at right now, enabling content to be remixed, repurposed, and shared by consumers, and not media owners.
- Multi-Multi-Platform Marketing: Prepare your brand to work with the marketing organization of the future by thinking broadly about consumer perceptions of your product, and communicating about them in a holistic way. Be aware of all of the new contexts in our lives, how and when we want to interact with brands, how are lives are changing, and the new possibilities to bring us value and not just marketing noise.
- New Horizons in Innovation: Until recently, most brands, products, marketing, and media were local, and barely traveled; today they’re frequent flyers. The question now is, can innovation in marketing make the leap across borders? When you want inspiration for your campaigns, be sure to look beyond your usual competitor set to find the most compelling and innovative initiatives in your sector, wherever they may be. Big brands are tapping local innovation more and more, testing new approaches and then repurposing them them elsewhere. Coca-Cola took the best approaches of gamification, Shazam, and the second-screen experience and ran with it in China. Tesco is testing out mobile, interactive shopping experiences in Seoul that the U.S. is not quite ready for, technologically and socially.
So what’s the bottom line? Media devices like smartphones and tablets have changed our lives permanently. And as we spend more time in the resulting new media environments, they’ll define how we spend more of our money, too. As brands and marketers explore the new opportunities presented by life in this new techno-data-sphere, we must remain mindful of how consumers are evolving. If we can do that, we’ll be well on our way to a post-mobile future that makes sense for consumers, marketers, and brands.