The air around us is thick with data. The mobile internet has arrived. The phones and portable devices of the mass market consumer buzz with incoming messages and updates as we enter a new era of hyper-connectivity. The power and potential of this new channel has yet to be realised, but from a marketing and advertising perspective, the promise of sophisticated and meaningful mobile marketing is finally reaching a point of credibility. As teens tout Blackberrys and middle aged parents cradle iPhones, real people and real money are starting to flow through apps and mobile retail sites.
For clients and their customers, the streets of our towns and cities now exist in a new dimension. The virtual. From the data cloud to the handset, through geo-location and customer profiling, switched on consumers and companies can now communicate in a new world of augmented reality and context driven interaction.
Last year we delivered location based vouchers, interactive posters and image recognition, but the possibilities are still being explored. A mobile search can now return results based on where the user is, what music is playing, or what new car is on the street. It means being able to direct consumers to a shop via GPS with an on-screen voucher to spend in the next 15 minutes. It means being able listen to a song and buy the album through a single click. It means bringing static objects to life and delivering marketing that is a hundred years away from leaflets stuffed into letterboxes. A return visitor can be welcomed and rewarded; a passing interest turns into an impulse purchase, on-screen or in real life. The real and the digital merged, and the time between thought and expression, from enquiry to purchase, reduced to seconds.
No longer will we wait to get home to book tickets, nor will we grab a pen and paper to add to the shopping list. The mobile world is no longer invasive spam; it stems from our new web reality, a part of our socially networked existence, rootless, omnipresent and inevitable.
This piece was originally published in the Media Guardian in association with the Direct Marketing Association in January 2011 entitled ‘The Heavy Air Revolution – How context aware wireless marketing is bringing thought closer to expression’.