From the moment we wake until we hit the pillow for some post-Netflix shut-eye, our smartphones are within reach.

From gaming or reading on the commute, to ordering the weekly shop or tonight’s Deliveroo dinner, we (i.e. consumers) rely on our mobiles to provide relevant content and services exactly when we need them.

This is not news: This is 2016, and brand marketers have read the UK mobile stats.

But whether or not brands are embracing the full opportunity offered by mobile technology is another matter.

Optimising your brand’s desktop presence for mobile is just the tip of the stylus.

The use of ever-increasing mobile functionality in the creation of meaningful experiences for consumers as they go about their daily lives needs to be the ambition.

Inherent mobility

As a content director, I’m obsessed with the creation and delivery of brilliant branded content to target audiences – but even I can appreciate that context is key, and content for content’s sake is a waste of time.

Sure, geo-targeted, weather-specific ice cream content based on my location in sunny Cornwall is more likely to send me to the Tesco freezer section than if I received a generic brand message in rainy Romford or windy Wiltshire. 

But with the technology now available to us, we should be aiming higher.

Instead of sending a picture of a generic ice cream, why not send me content relating to something that your system tells me is definitely in stock, guide me there using Google Maps, then use an iBeacon to confirm and reward my presence by delivering augmented reality content (like this Coke effort) or sending a discount barcode via Snapchat? 

It’s down to brands – not the hardware manufacturers – to leverage this technology and capitalise on it.

The so-called disrupters, such as Uber, have done exactly that: Building their entire business around that embrace of mobility – the embrace of the fact that everyone has a connected computer with them pretty much 24/7 and sees it as a way of making their lives better. 

My point is that it shouldn’t just be about services; content creators should be thinking more about where they can use the inherent power of mobile devices to push the envelope when it comes to utility.

There have been some brilliant examples in recent years of work on mobile that haven’t just been about producing innovative creative to surprise and delight, but to serve a purpose. 

Painting by photos...

One of the most recent brand offerings to successfully embrace mobile utility is the colour matching app from Dulux.

A practical and functional tie that plays on the brand’s perceived market expertise, the app allows users to take a photograph of colour with their phone’s camera, and have that colour matched to the appropriate paint.

An alternative function allows you to ‘visualise’ different colours in different settings, i.e. interior vs. exterior.

 

Shopping smarter...

The Australian supermarket chain Woolworths is pioneering the use of iBeacon technology to enhance its customers’ click and collect experience.

Instead of having to arrive at the store at an appointed time, or having to wait for their order to be pulled together, customers are asked to download an app.

When they are within a set radius of the store a notification is sent to the picking systems, prompting staff to complete the order and have it ready to hand over to the customer when they arrive. 

Literally saving lives...

It might not be based on innovative technology, but the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust’s Next Photo campaign was another excellent example of how to utilise the fact everyone now has a camera in their pocket.

One of the quickest ways to detect retinoblastoma (eye cancer) in young children is to look at a flash photograph – a developing tumour will often reflect back as white.

A series of four posters of children – with the retinas treated to reflect back white – were used to challenge passers-by to take out their phone and take a flash photo, thus spreading awareness of the condition and this easy method of early detection.

That’s the kind of utility I’m talking about in terms of mobility.

It’s about marketers finding ways of using the inherent capabilities of smart devices beyond delivering branded information. That, you can do with print, simple (non-innovative) display advertising or a website.

But actually offering something that your customers find genuinely useful? That’s where mobile, and mobility, lead the way.

Gina Roughan

Published 6 July, 2016 by Gina Roughan

Gina Roughan is editorial director at digital agency Zone. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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