For the first time in many years, a device didn’t appear on the Creighton Christmas note to Santa. In fact, I’m already blocking out some time over the festive period to understand the potential of the mobile phone and tablet I’ve had for over a year.
2014 will be the year when mobile will begin to mean a whole lot more to people. Not because a whole range of new smartphones will emerge – they most certainly will – but the reasons to unlock the power of the device in your pocket or bag, will become more relevant and the infrastructure these experiences rely upon, more seamless.
For the geek inside all of us, it won’t just be about a rectangular box in our hands, it will be on our wrists, in front of our eyes, maybe attached to relevant parts of our body (make of that what you will). Currently, the global number of wearable smart devices stands at 8.3 million, driven largely by fitness-related products such as Jawbone and Fitbit. By 2018, this is predicted to increase by almost 180 million with a much broader functionality.
These developments should make our marketing conversation less about mobile as a device or channel, and instead will be about the future of mobility as a whole.
The power of mobility
The power of mobility – whether it’s in terms of our location, our motion, our senses, or our direction – will be the key driver of this consumer experience and in turn, the opportunity for advertisers. By connecting digital and physical experiences together via mobility, we will make customer journeys from “virtual” research to purchasing within store, on the forecourt or in venue more fluid.
Mobility will define the new ecosystems and integration of devices – one device will not be the answer to all our needs. Increasingly, consumers are relying on several different devices connecting and working together.
This is not only an opportunity for hardware and software developers, but also creates new opportunities for content development and curation. Increasingly, 2014 will be about content creators acknowledging the breadth of platforms on which their content is being consumed, rather than simply seeking the single device that is the predominant choice of the largest audience.
Content development and curation
This is particularly true in television, where for some time, the viewer experience has not just been about the box in the corner of the living room. Consumption, delivery and the curation of our TV viewing will evolve apace throughout 2014 and the challenge for advertisers will be to determine where to engage with a range of new players, new content and new data.
2014 will see a greater application of new data to both the targeting and measurement of TV advertising, the delivery of more niche professionally produced content in environments such as YouTube, and a better understanding of the connection between linear TV viewing and powerful social conversations.
The opportunity to harness this potential comes down to a change in attitude across the TV industry about what “television” is and can be. Rudimentary delineations that ghettoize “video”, (read not traditional broadcast) from “TV” content, fail to acknowledge that for many viewers these forms of content co-exist and neither one is superior to the other.
It is important that as an industry we celebrate television in all its forms, test and refine the data that powers it, but ensure we do not lose sight of the powerful relationship that the viewer has with great content, irrelevant of its originator or delivery mechanism.
In the increasingly connected landscape, TV has been one of the most active partners in harnessing the power of the social space. Twitter Amplify can now be used to share branded in-tweet video clips and has signed up Viacom and the BBC to provide content. Meanwhile, over in the US, NBC have included a new “See it” button on their posts, which will allows users to watch or record programmes with the single click of a button on Twitter.
Manifestations of this trend can be seen across a whole range of other media channels. The cinema industry for example, is filling empty seats with a social cinema initiative, where consumers can set up their own private screening of any film, and use Facebook or Twitter to promote it their friends.
Connecting media experiences
This more collaborative approach to using social begins to provide a clearer definition amongst advertisers of the role it can play in connecting media experiences together, as much as being an isolated advertising channel in its own right. As large players like Facebook and Twitter seek to deliver their new shareholders’ commercial expectations, this broader role as a “connector” across an advertiser’s activity could be extremely powerful.
2014 will be about harnessing the potential of these connected experiences in media through a better understanding of new consumer behaviours, the real potential of technology and the power of great content. This will require a more collaborative attitude to the way that different media work together to deliver holistic advertising experiences, rather than simplistic channel hierarchies.
Mark Creighton is chief executive of WPP’s Mindshare