The Internet has profoundly affected the advertising industry. Whether through social media, banner ads or search, it has presented new opportunities for marketers to reach their target audience. The widespread adoption of mobile technology has created yet another opportunity.
Mobile is the newest development in communications technology which has led to the further erosion of time and space between individuals by facilitating communication at almost any time and anywhere. Now days people have become accustomed to accessing information and communicating with others whenever they want. As Rich Ling asserts in The Mobile Connection, mobiles/tablets have already achieved the status of an essential social mediation technology, like the clock or car. Indeed, mobile technology has fundamentally changed the way in which we communicate and has altered our expectations of receiving information. We now expect information to be short, digestible and instant.
A hyper-connected world presents a new challenge for marketers, as the media landscape and consumer behaviour have changed profoundly. It also presents a number of opportunities. Before the Internet, the gap between influencing consumers to the point of purchase was far greater. With online shopping and Paypal, the time between influencing a consumer and a sale has diminished significantly. Indeed, in as little as several seconds an advertisement can potentially lead to a sale. The same effect applies to mobile advertising, only the consumer can be anywhere at any time. The use of QR codes on many billboard and poster advertisements also means consumers can view an advertisement while out and purchase instantly.
Statistics from last year on mobile use and habits.
Data obtained from Google and major social media networks such as Facebook, also allow marketers to obtain details about consumers’ preferences. By advertising through these sites, marketers can accurately target their desired demographics worldwide. Hence, marketing on the Internet has allowed for more targeted advertising and on a global scale.
Mobile advertising is even more targeted. Most mobiles now-a-days have GPS capabilities, allowing businesses within close range to advertise to consumers. For example, lunch deals and coupons from restaurants can be sent that are right next to the consumer.
So what has Internet and mobile advertising meant for the industry in a broader sense? Many of the consequences for advertising stem from two main factors: consumers are now bombarded with more advertisements than ever and they can now be more easily targeted. These are my beliefs on how mobile has and will affect the way marketers advertise:
- Tailor content to suit the audience
Since Internet and mobile advertising can be highly targeted, consumers have come to expect advertising that speaks directly to them and their preferences. With advertising everywhere they look, they have become more desensitised than ever to marketing messages, especially if it is irrelevant. They want content that means something to them and connects with them on some level.
- Produce high quality, sharable and interactive content
Following on from the last point, the messaging and content aimed at the consumers must not only be relevant but also of a high standard. Of course this is an easy and somewhat vague statement to make, but is a very difficult to execute. Nevertheless, given the abundance of advertising on different mediums these days, content must be of high quality to cut through the clutter.
Producing high quality content will lead to a number of favourable outcomes. First, it will make the content more likely to be shared via social media, e-mail or SMS. This will give the content free exposure to relevant consumers and have a positive effect on brand awareness. Second, it will give the company positive brand association. By creating great content which people are inclined to share, consumers will naturally view the brand in a positive light. Further, if they are willing to share the content then they will be more willing to listen to what the company has to say, making the dissemination of key messages far easier.
The interactivity of the web has also forced advertising and public relations professionals to adapt. Previously, there was the one-way model of communication, where companies would trumpet their messages to the public without any reply. Now, if a company produces a TVC for example, they will receive instant feedback from consumers via Youtube or social media. This has led numerous companies to involve consumers in their campaigns. For example, last year American telecommunications company AT&T launched the #BeTheFan campaign, which involved weekly challenges where consumers were required to upload their effort to social media. By the end of the campaign they had engaged 200 million consumers worldwide across all platforms.
- Choose the right channel/s
With limited resources, you have to be smart about choosing which channels you choose to employ. Again, this relates to targeting: how can you best reach your target demographic? Is it through banner ads? Search? Social media? These new channels have led marketers to question traditional channels such as television and radio, especially when tasked with reaching younger and tech savvy demographics.
A relatively new and popular form of advertising is native advertising. It involves placing advertising content that seems organic to the news source in which it is published. With increasingly desensitised and cynical consumers, it is unsurprising this type of advertising has become popular. Done effectively, it allows companies to advertise without appearing to blatantly promote their product or service. Done poorly, however, and it will appear as a pathetic attempt to dupe the public, which is never good for brand equity. Comedian John Oliver recently criticized this type of advertising for its duplicitous nature. It’s very funny:
Mobile advertising is now featuring in many companies’ overall integrated communication strategies. It represents the newest channel through which marketers can use, and may prove to be the most important. Nearly everyone has at least one mobile device now, whether it be a mobile or tablet, which can connect to the Internet at any time. Thus, marketers have the potential to connect to them too – a challenging but potentially very lucrative proposition.