Pause for a moment and think about how many times per day you use your smartphone. If you’re anything like the standard American (we didn’t use the word “average” because postconsumers are far from average and many don’t have a smartphone!), then you not only use your smartphone in the high end of the double digits per day, but the types of activities that you do on it vary widely. You may be getting directions, checking email, using an app or browsing the web. Chances are extremely good that you’re on Facebook or Twitter for at least part of that time! In fact, mobile usage on a global scale grew 25% in 2014. From an ecommerce perspective, mobile transactions saw a 16% growth in 2014. Those statistics mean a lot of things, but mostly they mean that the marketers are coming for you on your mobile device.
Marketers care about many things, but one of the most important things in their books is that they want to be able to make sure that their marketing messages appear in a channel where you will actually see them and be exposed to them. If the general population is shifting not only from physical locations to online destinations but beyond that to specialized mobile online destinations, then marketers are shifting there, too. While many of the marketing traps you need to be aware of aren’t any different than the ones we regularly advise you on anyway, there are some unique “benefits” to mobile marketing that the wise consumer will want to know about. Because knowledge is power, and you can only combat the consumer media machine if you understand their battle plan as revealed by our very own Postconsumers marketers.
Your Smartphone Tracks Your Location, and Marketers Love That
Your smartphone is so handy when it’s tracking you step-by-step while you navigate to a new location that you’re not familiar with. Or when it’s logging how many steps you take during a day so that you can maximize your fitness and/or weight loss efforts. But that geographical tracking is doing something else as well. It’s helping marketers identify what the most relevant ads are to serve to you. That can mean anything from making sure that you see ads for local stores or retail outlets when you do a web search to making sure that you get ads for umbrellas when the weather in your location is rainy. Of all of the data that marketers collect and use, your physical location can be among the most important. After all, what good does it do to know your gender and age if you’re being marketed a parka when you live in the desert or a Starbucks location that’s on the other side of the country from you?
What Can You Do? There are two things that you can do to help mitigate the impact of mobile location tracking. The first is that many sites that use mobile location tracking will give you a permissions request when you load the mobile version of the site. It will say something like “So-and-so site wants permission to use your location.” Just click “no.” The second is that many phones (but not all) allow you to turn the location tracking off altogether. If you have this option and you are particularly sensitive about data, you may want to consider using it.
Regardless of Location, Mobile Advertising is Going Up. Way Up.
In 2014, mobile ecommerce took over desktop ecommerce and accounted for 22% of all sales. That’s a big deal if you live in marketing world. It obviously also means that more mobile websites and mobile apps will be using advertising as a way to generate revenue. Yes, despite all appearances, eventually a mobile app or website does need to generate revenue or run out of venture funding! As an added bonus, most of these advertising purchases on mobile technologies will be made using a process called “programatic buying.” That means that the advertiser uses a type of software or technology to buy the ads rather than hiring individuals to negotiate, purchase and place the ads. So in addition to more ads, Skynet is beginning to gain awareness. And it’s gaining awareness via advertising, which may tell it more about us than we realize.
What Can You Do? Unfortunately, not much unless you want to stay off of mobile technology altogether. In this case, the best way to combat the pervasiveness of advertising is simply to be aware of it, teach yourself to go “ad blind” and ignore it.
The Data Gets Bigger. And Wearables Are a Part of That Equation.
What, you didn’t rush out for your $10,000 Apple Watch? Unfortunately many people did! Wearable mobile technology is the next big frontier. The Star Trek wrist communicator is for real. Between the granular data collected by a wearable and the data your smartphone is already collecting, big data just keeps getting bigger. The more that an advertiser can narrow and pinpoint you into a very, very, very specific niche, the more likely he or she is to be able to convert you to a sale, action or sign-up. Your computer could only essentially identify you as an IP address (or if you were logged into an account on a site). Your smartphone could do more, but there were still limitations. But wearables are becoming true extensions of people. Scary? Sure. But advertisers love it.
What Can You Do? Fight the wearables tide as long as you can!
Mobile technology is becoming a way of life, and that means that it’s becoming a space that marketers want (or need) to be in. While we always support using less technology or limiting screen time or exposure, there’s only so much we can all do to avoid it. In the meantime, our best defense is to be aware of the ways in which the consumer media machine is communicating to us via our mobile technology pieces.
Did we miss a way that mobile marketing is impacting the consumer machine? Tell us about it on the social media channels below.
Photo Credit: miniyo73 via Flickr