What’s mobile? It is a very vague term encompassing a ton of portable marketing possibilities, or does it?
When we who work in marketing use the word mobile, what we really mean is the mobile web. However even today we are exposed to presentations that flaunt impressive stats and figures about mobile, which have NOTHING to do with marketing, not really.
What am I talking about?
Many presentations about mobile still present penetration of mobile phones, the share of devices by device manufacturer and operating system – all of which I argue have nothing to do with marketing, communicating and advertising. These figures are all distractions.
No really what am I talking about?
Alright, let’s break this down a little. The mobile web is relevant to marketing as it represents a channel with vehicles with which marketers can communicate brand messages to consumers, at the right time and the right place. These marketing opportunities include, among others, email delivered to mobile devices, mobile web browsing and mobile apps of all kinds.
If you have stats and figures that are relevant to use of email on mobile devices, the types of mobile sites, whether they are built for mobile, responsive or adaptive, mobile directory listings, mobile paid search ads and organic results, mobile applications of any kind, then these numbers may have interest and value to marketers in better understanding how to properly reach consumers through these devices.
If you have insights into how consumers use their devices, how long and when they use them, what they use them for and what mind set they are in for various uses, that too would have outstanding value to marketers.
What do I not want to talk about?
False penetration numbers
What I really do not care for is seeing stats about the penetration of mobile devices. These numbers are never comparable and rarely mean what we summarily think they do. Often mobile penetration actually only counts the number of mobile subscribers which includes much duplication. Just look around you and count how many people have 2 cell phones – probably one in three or four – so the real penetration in terms of human users as opposed to the number of active devices out there is very different and much lower.
Irrelevant devices included in that penetration
I further do not care for the penetration of mobile phones, let us assume for a moment that the number would in fact be accurate penetration among consumers, because that number does not matter in terms of marketing. The number that does matter for marketing is the number of consumers how have a smartphone, or web connected device, because these offer real possibility of communicating brand messages to them. Feature phones only matter to marketing where marketing text messaging is concerned. In the US, Europe and Asia, that is a significant marketing opportunity, but it IS NOT so in Canada where most consumers do not accept text messaging from any brand whatsoever beyond those they have no choice about (their Telco). Chose Canadians who do receive branded text messaging do so only punctually or with one brand, sometimes two… Mobile text messaging is not a significant marketing opportunity in Canada and as such, feature phones do not count. It is similar to counting Canadians with a computer, regardless if they have internet access, or a television set but no cable subscription – it does not matter or count.
Device manufacturers or OS
I really do not care for a breakdown of handset manufacturers or operating systems. These numbers do not matter, no more so than the share of LG to Sony television sets matters to TV advertisers. These numbers are used regularly because we can easily track and count them, but they are irrelevant.
What matters is whether the device owners actually use their device to connect to the web in some way through which a marketer can communicate with them. If they don’t (which is largely the case for BlackBerry users) then they do not matter. A breakdown of devices shows a larger share of BlackBerry owners than there are actual web users. Similarly in the US and likely now in Canada too, Android devices are the predominant ones, however Apple users use their device more than Android owners do.
The time spent, the pages viewed and consumer interactions that really matter, not if they have any particular device.
Mobile doesn’t matter – the mobile Web does!
As any good marketer should always do, when he or she isn’t too distracted by too many possibilities, is asking the almighty question “why” at all times. Why does this number matter? Why does this behavior matter to my brand? Why does this point of view matter to my communications?
This should further be followed up by “what else” could that mean, and “how else” could this be interpreted to ensure we are all understanding the same thing, the same meaning and the same implications.
Authored by Samuel Parent.