It seems that every year around this time, the same message is heard: “This year was the year of mobile!” We heard it in 2007, when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone. We heard it in 2008, when Google launched the Android Market (now Google Play). We heard it in 2010, when the iPad arrived. These were all important years for mobile, and every year since we’ve seen new and impressive innovations introduced, not just in the gadgets but in the technology that supports them. All this growth and change is indicative of a healthy, evolving ecosystem, and it’s only going to get better. So, what do we have to look forward to? Looking back at 2013 and its many happenings, I have two predictions that I see surfacing in the coming year.
First, I expect to see a major transition toward the unification of mobile Web and mobile apps. Just this week, AdTruth’s parent company, 41st Parameter, issued data on the growth of mobile commerce for the Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday stretch. Between 2012 and 2013 there was a 35 percent spike in orders placed on mobile devices. This substantial growth in mobile activity and commerce transactions means more targeting obstacles for marketers, but also tremendous opportunity. The wall dividing mobile app and mobile Web will have to be brought down to support a more unified view of audiences, providing a more efficient and level-set landscape for targeting.
Bridging solutions, like AdTruth, are already in market and are making it possible for seamless cross-channel targeting. I anticipate more players in the ecosystem will be looking for ways to deliver consistent messaging to their consumers, regardless of whether they are using a app or browsing the mobile web.
The second issue I expect to see addressed in 2014 is fragmentation. This has long been a challenge in the mobile market – whether it was OS versioning, app vs. Web or understanding that the same person may have multiple devices – and one that has made life difficult for marketers. Tactical options continue to pop up and are tested to see if they can get to the root of this problem, but it’s unclear if there’s a single approach that will provide a complete, overarching solution
One possible solution to the “fragmentation dilemma” would be to stop looking for devices, operating systems and browsers to make up your target consumer – with new devices and ways for consumers to connect expanding rapidly and the number of devices on average per user increasing each year, we fail to recognize that fragmentation may not be a by-product of this new connected world we live in, but may actually be intended by the user themselves. People utilize their devices in many different ways – from work to gaming and from fitness to social – a consumer interacts with these various devices in multiple ways and in multiple states of mind. So rather than fragmentation being look upon as an obstacle, it perhaps should be looked at as a guide for best messaging to your target consumer in a manner in which triggers their interest, invokes action or initiates a purchase. These “fragments” could very well be the blue print to effective audience targeting as has been used successfully in traditional media (such as TV, print, billboard and radio). To place so much focus on a single consumer might lead to losing out on exposing your product or service to many more consumers with similar interests and buying habits.
In the last few years, we’ve made significant strides in the mobile market and I agree, it’s easy to tag every passing year as “the year of mobile.” Mobile is at an exciting point in its evolution, and it’s easy to get excited about something that only gets better and better with time – just like that good bottle of whiskey you’ll sip at Christmas dinner. But we’re only scratching the surface of what mobile has to offer and my hopes for unification in mobile and a solution to fragmentation is just a glimpse of what’s to come in 2014.