In my last post on Crisp Voices I was talking about the inclusion of mobile components in superbowl advertising, which seems to have only further cemented the need for a mobile solution as part of a complete offering for advertisers and publishers, and kicked off a banner year for the industry. Despite the global economic downturn, things here at Crisp have been busier than ever. In general mobile has faired much better than other industries in these hard times. A lot of this is due to the overwhelming success of new platforms and the popularity of more direct channels for users to get content.
Obviously iPhone is the golden child, in just one year, they have seen over 1.5 billion downloads and 65,000 apps are now available to users. While that seems insurmountable, Android has been steadily growing and is now up to 5000 apps. Pre, Nokia and Blackberry all recently launched their stores so it will be interesting to see how much traction they are able to gain, not to mention Windows Mobile which is still waiting in the wings.
The proliferation of all these app stores (all with different requirements and approvals) only succeeds in further fragmenting the development landscape. The whole appeal of the iPhone from the developer’s point of view was that it was a single platform for which you could write one application and reach a huge install base. Apple managed to one up the carriers by offering a bigger piece of the pie (70% of revenue versus the 50% or lower) and actually spend some money on marketing the apps thus helping to inform the user base about the products. But the real draw was the ease of development. Why deal with the hassle of trying to develop apps for all the phones a carrier supports (which they mandated you must to do to get on their deck) when you can spend less effort on the iPhone and make more money.
The iPhone has been a runaway success , but it’s store is getting saturated with apps and soon content providers will turn their attention to other less crowded platforms. Rather than try and build (or contract) an app for each device in each store, why not consider a mobile web presence instead?
Take it from a project manager whose whole focus is on delivering as efficiently as possible, mobile web is significantly easier to support than a plethora of apps. Just to make one change for an app (assuming you did it all in-house) requires you to recompile all builds. Then you need to get it recertified and hope your end users all upgrade. If these weren’t in-house, you have to contact the contractor(s) and coordinate this whole process with them. Alternatively with web, you can fix the issue once, roll it out to all devices at the same and since you do your own quality control, this can all be done much quicker. Not to mention with the web, the user is presented with the latest version every time they visit, so there’s no need to upgrade.
Reasons to consider mobile sites:
- Portability – easier to develop for all devices (even ones that aren’t out yet)
- Upgradability – you control when and how often, and aren’t encumbered by store approval
- Scalability – You can make use of you existing advertising/reporting/streaming/hosting solutions for PC web on your mobile web site.
- Cost effectiveness – the reasons above equate to significant cost savings and an easier, more manageable pipeline.
- Cross linking – the ability to link from one site to another. This is a big issue when it comes to sending the content from a PC user to a mobile user, or sharing links with your friends, or taking advantage of social media.
- SEO – we have mentioned it here before, but I will reiterate. Search is going to be huge. The content on an app is not searchable. How will your users find your content?
- Getting better every day – mobile web browsers are gaining new features all the time, some of which are users only associate with downloadable apps (we’ll be highlighting just how Crisp is using these in future posts).
Alternatively for Apps
- Hot - They are currently what users are gravitating towards. Not necessarily what they want.
- Best performance – of course on device apps do have direct access to the processor and can push the limits of the hardware, but assuming you aren’t building a 3D game, chances are your app doesn’t need this anyway. Pretty soon even 3D games will be in browsers
As you recall, mobile web apps were all the rage until Apple stopped hyping them and instead focused on the downloadable apps. You can’t really blame them considering they do get additional revenue from the downloads (vs. nothing for web apps). Had they given equal billing to each, I assure you things would look considerably different. All it will take is one of the big guys to stop supporting apps, and start pumping some marketing into mobile web and this will begin to gain traction with consumers. Considering that even Google is now saying they don’t have enough money to do apps on all devices, maybe the time is now for you to evaluate your long term mobile strategy and weigh the options.
Each year for the Superbowl, the media tries to convince us this will be biggest and best game of the year, only to leave us disappointed more often than not. This year I decided to take things into my own hands and find something to engage me for the 3+ hours. Like most of you I wasn't too interested in either team, having watched my favorite team be eliminated weeks ago. So of course I had to go to my backup plan of watching to see which Superbowl ad would be my favorite. To make it a little more interesting I decided to pay close attention to which ads were leveraging mobile components. If this truly is the year of mobile for Superbowl advertising, then surely we would see an increase over last year's numbers. I am happy to report that things are definitely looking up for mobile in 2009. The Usual Suspects First and foremost, I suspected most of the major wireless carriers to have placements during the game. So it was no surprise to see Sprint, which partners with the NFL, Verizon and Nextel each trying to sway customers to their unique offerings. Not too much in the way of new and exciting, these ads did the job of getting the names out there to help build further brand awareness. Next up I figured I would probably see a few commercials urging viewers to opt-in to text message campaigns or services. More than last year, 2009 saw several spots like this, including monster.com's "Director of Fandemonium" and the MVP vote sponsored by Cadillac at the end of the game. In addition to these there were several others that that ran mobile marketing campaigns outside of actual television ads. In this group were Burger King, Emerald Nuts, Anheuser-Busch, Degree, Johnsonville Sausage and Sprint. As it turns out I had signed up for the Anheuser-Busch campaign via the new site we launched for Tampabay.com. What was nice about this was that it encouraged me to watch their commercials and then directed me to a mobile site to vote for my favorite one (which I thought were among the best anyway.) With the plethora of advertisers above it definitely seems that both the awareness and complexity of these channels are increasing. I definitely see these services continuing to grow in the months to come. The Next Mobile Experience With my preconceived notions about how mobile advertising would work its way into TV commercials already met, I wanted to see what other sort of ways mobile could be integrated into an ad for our viewing entertainment, while still being relevant to our everyday lives. Specifically I wanted to see if any advertisers would actually try and tap into the mindset of a mobile user and reinforce the innate urge to pull out our phone when presented with a question, or problem.
Thankfully, this was filled very nicely by the cars.com ad. Clearly comical in nature, the "user" David Abernathy was confident about everything in life, except for one thing, his ability to find a good car. So what does David do? He pulls out his mobile device and navigates to the cars.com mobile site. I mention this not only because they are a client of ours, but because I think this it is the best example to date of showing the public of how they can use their mobile device to obtain specific information on-demand. What better example of how mobile advertising can be used in conjunction with other advertising medium to create a instant response, and the ultimate benefit of mobile. Conclusion All in all this year's Superbowl was a very successful event for mobile advertising (not to mention the game wasn't too bad either.) Viewers were engaged in new and more meaningful ways and I was really surprised by how many different ways in which mobile was used to further this goal. Moving away from the passive advertising of years past, mobile is on the forefront of a new more active method of involving consumers, one in which they have more agency over how, when, and what they interact with. This is something we should embrace and foster, as it matures into its own advertising experience. I am excited to see where this leads us and expect other new channels for engaging consumers to emerge in the near future.