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How marketers must respond to mobile

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Marketers need to take think when engaging with consumers as they interact with brands from a range of devices with differing capabilities. Yet many marketers are failing to consider how user behaviour has changed, thanks to mobile phones and tablets, writes JOHAN WALTERS.

In today’s digital world, your customer is more likely to be engaging with your content using a mobile device than from a traditional PC.

This means that marketers need to take a thoughtful approach to engaging with consumers as they interact with brands from a range of devices with differing capabilities. Yet many marketers are failing to consider how user behaviour has changed, thanks to mobile phones and tablets, and still treat mobile as an after-thought.

Consider the youth market, where the smartphone is at the centre of the consumer’s life. For generation Y, the mobile phone is the primary place where they communicate with others and entertain themselves: soon it will be the place where they do most of their living, learning, working and buying.

They might use other digital devices and even analogue channels in their day to day life – often watching two or more screens at once – but the mobile screen is the one that matters. They are leading the trend towards the mobile phone becoming the primary screen, while the PC and TV are complementary.

Youth brands lead the way

For this reason, youth-focused brands will lead the field in providing a seamless multi-screen experience across devices to retain attention and drive brand consumption among their audiences. Other brands should learn from their practices and experiences because the trend is part of a long term shift in consumer behaviour.

Our experience bears out these trends, and highlights the importance of an integrated marketing mix that treats mobile as theconsumer’s lifestyle companion. In our campaigns for major South African consumer brands, we have found that mobile plays a key role in the engagement and conversion cycle.

Mobile consumers are more accepting of ads and are also remarkably open to watching short videos.

What’s more, they rely on mobile web and apps for research and comparisons when shopping, and have a major influence on purchase behaviour. Consumers tend to use mobile as they watch TV and read print media, underscoring the importance of taking an multi-channel approach to marketing.

In our engagements with our clients:

Blurred lines

Against this backdrop, let’s consider the reality that mobile advertising has slowly increased its share of overall digital spend, but the technology remains as complex as ever. There’s a confusing selection of tools and the lines between them are blurring. In-app ads, ad networks, exchanges, and real-time bidding platforms seem to offer everything to everyone, including the most varied targeting methodologies and access to premium content and application platforms.

So what should brands do? One important element is to look at budgets with fresh eyes, especially allocations between print, TV, radio, web, social and mobile. Remember that it should be ROI rather than the size of the screen that determines how much money and effort is invested in a channel.

The goal should be to ensure that the brand secures a competitive share of all screens. The first screen is the one the consumer chooses, and it is constantly changing. But mobile has an especially important role to play as a medium that leverages geo-location, purchase and browser behaviour data that gives brands insights into the optimal ways to reach, engage and measure the impact of campaigns.

Optimised experiences

Brands must also optimise their user experiences – mailers, websites, conversion processes – for smaller screens. Responsive design has an invaluable role to play here, delivering the best and consistent experience of a website on any device of the user’s choice. It also means brands need not build different versions of their website for every device.

What’s more, open, cross-platform technologies such as HTML5 are opening the way to make ads a little more attractive and engaging using rich media. Videos are interactive, engaging and now more easily accessible on mobile devices, thanks to the growing prevalence of smartphones with HTML5 browsers in the market.

* Johan Walters from 25AM

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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