How The Purpose Of Mobile Will Change In 2016

Research firm Millward Brown predicts that 2016 will see brands being both more inventive and more practically-minded when using mobile to engage with consumers in real-time.

How The Purpose Of Mobile Will Change In 2016

Mobile could be the glue that links all of a brand’s different assets directly to the consumer and merges brand messaging with consumer utility. It shouldn’t simply be another vehicle for adverts.

One of Millward Brown’s digital predictions for 2016 is that mobile innovations that are as useful for consumers as regular apps will become more widespread. This year will see brands being both more inventive and more practically-minded when using mobile to engage with consumers in real-time. But only brands that are willing to make the investment will be able to take advantage of all the opportunities to reach consumers in the new and exciting ways. L’Oréal, Heineken, and Lowe’s are some of the brands that have demonstrated what others should aspire to with mobile this year.

Be Useful And Relevant

It may have been a massive buzzword for years, but mobile is an even bigger opportunity for marketers than many realise. The key to realising its potential, however, is to embrace mobile’s unique features instead of serving consumers more of what they already get through other channels.

Even though the money brands spend on mobile advertising will increase this year, they should also look beyond video and display ads for mobile. Receptivity is a key issue for mobile marketing and cutting through the noise is a challenge that has to be met with increased creativity in ads and beyond. The mobile is also more personal for consumers than anywhere else they meet marketing messages, and it should be treated accordingly. Making sure mobile marketing is interesting and useful will be the absolute priority this year.

L’Oréal’s Makeup Genius is an absolutely brilliant example of how one of the mobile’s most popular functions, the selfie, can be made useful for consumers. By letting consumers experiment with different types of makeup and effortlessly change the style of their own face, L’Oréal has created an app that is first and foremost about helping its audience.

L’Oréal has recognised that this kind of utility is the reason someone both downloads and—essentially—uses an app. Other brands tempt consumers with rewards for downloading apps, which can be effective to a limited degree, but rewards will never be the main reason someone continues to use an app.

Brands should, however, be wary about embracing new tech innovations that are not directly relevant to their brand. That L’Oréal has managed to merge usefulness so directly with its own products is a testament to how well created the app is, with the value for consumers and the relevance for the brand both being paramount in its design. Such a happy marriage won’t be possible for all brands; it requires both a significant budget and a product that can fit into a simple user experience. But L’Oréal’s strategy should still be an ideal for those brands looking to change the purpose of their mobile marketing.

Offer Real-Time Gratification

A different brand that has succeeded with useful mobile content and instant gratification is Heineken. Heineken’s product can’t be as intimately integrated to an app as L’Oréal. But Heineken has realised that the product doesn’t have to take centre stage for the company to create a convenient tool for consumers that also promotes the brand.

With the Twitter handle @wherenext and the @wherenext app, Heineken has created a useful service for precisely those consumers who are likely to engage with its product: partygoers. The @wherenext service is a Twitter bot that consumers can tweet their location to and immediately receive an answer about what’s happening around them on a night out.

Notice that the Twitter handle doesn’t even contain the brand name. @wherenext works so well because its primary purpose is to supply a customer need, not to send a brand message. However, being integrated to the broader Heineken campaign “Open Your City” it still manages to preserve an intimate connection to the product.

Another reason @wherenext works so well is that it delivers real-time gratification. Just as the L’Oréal makeup app can be used while shopping for makeup or sitting at home in front of the mirror, Heineken’s @wherenext solves a “right now” problem many can relate to: walking out of a friend’s house or a bar, maybe in a big group, and not quite knowing where to go next.

Merging usefulness and real-time gratification for consumers like this means that L’Oréal’s and Heineken’s mobile marketing will cut through the noise and actually be engaged with repeatedly. A banner ad or video would be even more on-message than such apps, but the less intensive brand message is vindicated manifold by the increased exposure time. This insistence on receptivity above all else will be an important part of the evolution of mobile in 2016.

More Platforms For Owned And Paid-For Content

Mobile successes can also be owned content or adverts, however, if they are genuinely useful for consumers and, crucially, specifically adapted to a channel. The U.S. home improvement retailer Lowe’s, for example, uses its “Fix it in six” Vines to show consumers how to solve simple household problems. No brand messages are necessary; the content is all about solving a simple problem. Even without text, the content is perfectly aligned with the brand’s tagline: “Never stop improving”.

Creating content that is as specifically adapted to one platform like this, however, is a greater creative challenge than making other types of adverts.

Marketers will have to think very carefully about which channels work for their brand and how to produce content so that it fits that channel specifically—including going into the specifics of, for instance, vertical videos and micro-videos.

Beyond owned content many mobile platforms like Instagram and Snapchat also allow for paid-for advertising. The paid-for mobile opportunity could be huge for marketers, but the issue of receptivity still lurks in the background.

The receptivity challenge will require a significant investment in proven creative quality of the marketing team. As with both L’Oréal’s and Heinken’s mobile offerings, budget will always be a concern for those that want to be at the forefront of the innovations of mobile usefulness.

Intimate And Important

Even if all brands are not able to replicate these successes, they are still useful guiding lights for what mobile should and shouldn’t be. Making mobile the most intimate and important part of a marketing strategy could pay dividends for building relationships with consumers.

Mobiles give marketers the opportunity to reach consumers at all times, but it also gives consumers the power to choose exactly which content they want to consume. Only by offering something consumers genuinely want to engage with will brands be able to cut through the noise. This year, more brands than ever will recognise that mobiles can and should be used for so much more than advertising.