Mobile: The last ‘game changer’?

It’s been more than eight years since Apple released the first iPhone, and in that time the marketing landscape has changed dramatically. Mobile has changed everything, just as the internet, PCs and the wheel did before it. 

This is undoubtedly mobile’s heyday. The years since the birth of the iPhone have seen the demise of fax machines, VHS, pagers, CDs, corded phones, FM radio and analogue television. Even the personal computer – the dominant machine of the modern age – is in a state of rapid decline with sales in Q2 2015 falling 11% on last year. 

Everyone likes to talk about the ‘next big thing’. Indeed, some people’s livelihoods depend on it. Many tech industry analysts are already looking ahead to the rise of biotech and wearable technologies as the next big game changers, waiting in the wings to usurp mobile at the earliest opportunity. But what actually is the next step on from mobile? Is there one?

There will no doubt be huge changes in the way we work, consume media and interact with the world, but so far, mobile has proven itself to be capable of adapting seamlessly to all the demands we place on it. Replace my wallet? No problem. Remote control my home? You got it. Throughout all these changes, the principle of mobile technology has remained broadly the same. 

In a world where nothing is more constant than change, why is mobile so enduring compared to its technological predecessors? The main reason is its versatility. Mobile has the ability to constantly upgrade both its hardware and software features and to become even more integrated with the world. It can and does stay at the forefront of our needs, and helps us discover new frontiers, new habits and new ways of doing things that are bigger, better and faster than ever before. 

Perhaps the best example of its continuing relevance is found in its recent bucking of the trend towards ever-smaller technologies. The expansion of the screen size on the most popular Apple and Samsung smartphones differentiates them in a way that smaller, wearable devices cannot match. The commensurate growth in video consumption alongside mobile usage and the desire to live our normal lives – working and personal – on the go demands this variety and endurance. 

For businesses, getting to grips with a mobile-first approach is a must. It is a necessary investment in order to tap into these capabilities and reach clients, and that’s no more true anywhere else than in advertising. Whether you’re a small business looking to reach a hyper relevant, local audience or a big brand trying to accomplish the holy grail of cross-device advertising, a change in mind-set is a challenging but necessary first step towards becoming truly mobile, followed by making sure your company has the right strategy and skill set in place. 

The advantage for digital marketers is that, once learned, the skills that can build and sustain powerful mobile marketing campaigns will evolve in line with the technology, rather than simply expiring with the demise of their medium. 

One of the reasons that mobile has achieved its current dominance is its responsive, connected nature, and it is this that makes it such an effective tool for marketers. The concept of real-time is still a relatively new idea, and one that many are yet to achieve. But mobile is now realising capabilities that would have been mind-boggling ten or even five years ago. The ability now exists to not only deliver programmatic mobile advertising in real-time, but also real-time campaign optimisation, where feedback on the most effective creative, locations or strategies can be received in seconds, and budgets re-allocated there and then for maximum cut-through. 

Taking this to the next level, mobile then offers the ability to scale up the campaign almost exponentially, continually using up-to-the-second data to target the most relevant audience as the business grows. The journey from small-scale customer insights to widespread strategies can take place within the blink of an eye.

Making the most of the digital opportunities available means being equipped to utilise the channels that clients are most engaged with, using the tools that can provide the best return on investment. Now, and in the foreseeable future, the channel that brings all of this together is mobile.