Do Consumers Control the Future of Mobile?

Becky Doles

In 2007, Ad Age named the “Consumer” the agency of the year. One year prior, TIME named “You” person of the year. Both publications cited consumers’ newfound ability to help facilitate viral messaging as one of the core reasons that the consumer was more important than any brand or business that could do the same. Interestingly, these observations predate consumers adopting smartphones en masse.

During a session at ad:tech in San Francisco yesterday, Joe Depreta of Pearl Media argued that as mobile adoption has increased so rapidly since 2007, the consumer should be named agency of the year yet again. Not only are consumers using smartphones, they are using them to capture and share brand messages that are delivered via other digital methods. Depreta discussed how Pearl creates “cutting edge technology with high impact inventory to make lasting impressions with consumers” using 3D visual experiences, which consumers then capture and share with their smartphones. After one particular “show”, Pearl Media was able to drive 2.5 million impressions in one week, with 29% of this content shared via mobile. As Depreta said, “consumers are awestruck by these experiences and their natural reactions are to pull out their smartphone and start sharing, consumer to consumer.”

One of the key points Depreta made was that mobile devices don’t necessarily need to be the means by which advertising is delivered, but instead a platform by which brands can leverage fans to become evangelists to share messaging and drive an increase in brand awareness. During the same session, Erik Muendel of Brightline Interactive said he too believes this messaging will be delivered off the smartphone screen, as brands will turn to new digital environments such as screens, floors and hallways; all of which will awe consumers, in turn motivating them to capture the experience to share with friends and family.

Of course, this places the ultimate control of a brand’s messaging in the hands of the consumer, and it will be up to the consumer to decide how they will want to use not just mobile phones, but mobile computing in general. Paul Capriolo of Social Growth Technology outlined how brands who choose to leverage mobile devices will need to decide how “C.R.E.E.P.Y” they want it to be; i.e. how much “Context”, “Response”, “Emotion”, “Environment”, “Purpose” and “You” the brand will consider in creating messaging. These components – such as the need to consider who the consumer is with, how the message is targeting the user’s routing, the consumer’s feelings, how it impacts the consumer’s needs, considerations for location, and whether or not the message understands the consumer – are critical to creating advertising and targeting marketing that generates a message that both resonates with the consumer and returns on a company’s investment. Capriolo explained, however, that the technology that can enable this kind of messaging will ultimately rest on operating systems that power this type of targeting – operating systems like Google Glass – which consumers must first adopt. Capriolo also warned, however, that this choice will likely be akin to the convenience, as well as stigma, of a bluetooth headset.

Ultimately, the future of mobile devices largely rests in the power of how brands can leverage mobile computing to promote messaging. But the power to control this messaging is really in the consumer’s control, and may be what actually shapes the future of mobile.

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.

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