I was lucky enough to attend two highly informative events this week and in both cases (no surprise) the key themes were around mobile. The first was the Google Think Performance UK (#ThinkPerf13 ) which featured various presenters and panellists. The second was an IAB round table discussion which I took part in just last night.
“Media convergence” is the big buzz phrase around iProspect and Aegis Media. In the context of our business I describe this simply as “people using their mobile devices and desktop devices interchangeably and in any order and are accessing content, sharing and reviewing in any order.” In fact at Think Performance an interesting statistic given was that consumers switch between devices 27 times per day on average.
This is exciting and scary at the same time. Exciting because commerce businesses that sell online are already growing three times as fast as traditional business and now with the explosion of smart phones, there is rarely a time that you can’t reach your audience and the opportunities are immense. Also, the growth of dual screening (TV and mobile device) provides fantastic opportunities to interrupt a purchase process and leverage competitors’ communications investment.
However, this device hopping is scary because there has never been so much multi-tasking and distraction. This means that we need a new way of tracking consumer behaviour and ensuring that consumers attention is not lost when they switch.
First and foremost, Irish businesses need to have mobile friendly websites. Approximately 6% of Irish sites are mobile optimised versus 25% in the UK. Although this is a worrying statistic, there may be a second mover advantage possibility here. There is significant research pointing to the fact that what users do on smart phones is often completely different to their behaviour on a larger screen. For example, as a user is looking at a product in store and conducting a quick price comparison or product review on their phone, they do not want to see the website of the store optimised for a small screen. What they want to do is to extend their current shopping experience and become more informed. In fact, 20% of users change their minds about a product as a result of researching on their mobile phones whilst in store.
A hugely worrying trend is that although Ireland is at the top of the pile when it comes to online shopping, 70% of this spend is going to savvy UK and US retailers. In fact, it is very easy for UK retailers to extend their reach into Ireland. This trend is only going to continue, as consumers spend more and more money online and international online retailers before more sophisticated and powerful. However, at the IAB round table event, we discussed the notion of mobile being a great way to reverse this trend. If savvy marketers can use locally targeted offers in conjunction with the confidence that a local presence can bring, then this can be a real benefit. When users get used to buying from Irish retailers online, they will inevitably look to them again and investigate the fuller online shopping experience assuming that the price, variety and conditions of sale are as strong.
We need to get smarter with mobile advertising as an industry. Generally people don’t like their experience interrupted by ads and this is amplified on mobile. Relevance and context is even more important on mobile as mobile is considered ‘personal space’. However, location-based targeting, near field communications technology and other mobile features provide significant personalisation capabilities.
Developments in media convergence, smart phone adoption and mobile technology all bring tremendous opportunities to pioneering and savvy marketers. However, there are also changing the status quo. The opportunities to deliver real time, targeted message to the 24/7 always on consumer are greater than ever. However, marketers who stand still are going to lose out to their competitors in Ireland and overseas.
Looking at the Irish market place, we are losing the majority of online spend to overseas businesses. Most Irish businesses have not developed complete commerce solutions to offer consumers an alternative. Worse still, only a tiny percentage of Irish websites are mobile optimised. Now is the time to act and the great news is that opportunities to innovate and get ahead with mobile led strategies have never been greater. Looking forward to exciting times ahead in mobile.