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How the Mobile Tech Trend Will Change Branding

This is Part 3 in a web series on mobile marketing. Read Part 1 & Part 2 here.

Highlights:
-Mobile’s always-on characteristic will foster software tools to prevent this access from becoming overwhelming.
-Potential customers unfamiliar with your brand will have new powerful tools to actively hide from your advertising.
-Building trust will be a vital prerequisite to any kind of customer access.

Last week I attended an internet conference where they proclaimed three tech juggernauts for the coming decade: social networking, cloud computing, and mobile. You can now buy an Apple iPad at Walmart, and by 2014 more people will connect to the Internet through mobile devices than desktop computers. Tablet computers are now 1% of computer sales but are expected to grow to 23% by 2015.

The Big Workflow Change
The nature of mobile computing demands a change in the most deeply ingrained workflow practices. Most software and hardware is built around the concept of an intermittent internet experience. We sit down at the computer, surf a bit, then terminate our connectivity by getting up and walking away. Today, most people spend long portions of their day unconnected from the net.

Mobile changes all that. That internet device in your purse or on you hip can always be with you. Microsoft’s “Really?” ad did a fine job showing the humorous side of how always-on connectivity can take over our lives. Look for ultimately customizable interface and notification systems to come on strong. Beep my device with a custom notification if my trusted friends contact me. Transfer everyone else to oblivion. Imagine the clamor when everyone is on the net, all the time, and has instant access to you at any moment. That much accessibility could easily take over your life.

I notice this in my own life. I have too much availability and I am increasingly reliant on software to help me stay focused on what’s important. I have an email filter that automatically moves important people to the top of my inbox. I have custom ringtones for my most trusted confidants. After watching my correspondence for years, Facebook and Google know the products I don’t use, and their ads have taken on a refreshing relevancy.

The Software Personal Assistant
Surfing and exploring the world is more difficult on a small screen than on big desktop computers, so we will look to technology to make it easier. Software agents will highlight the choices and report back to us with the best picks. More of these productivity tools are coming online all the time. Eventually, all of us will have our own virtual assistant to bolster productivity and find fascinating stuff we love. The mobile future is about managing our attention, narrowing access to chosen groups, and protecting ourselves from the ever-more sophisticated ad tools used by those who want to waste our time.

Privacy concerns will continue to be there, but as the tools get safer and more functional, most of us will succumb to the trade-off of efficiency versus privacy. What we see on our mobile device will be gleaned from a computer analysis of our always-on behavior. That will include tracking our every step through GPS, indexing our every utterance, and cross tabbing every purchase we make.

The Young Know Best
As we all become more reliant on mobile internet, there will be big implications for marketers. Custom software tools will allow all of us to construct an electronic bunker around our lives and carefully manage who gets even a moment of our attention. Brands that operate on the interruption paradigm will be banished. Only brands that foster a true reciprocal relationship will be granted the honor of a moment of the customer’s attention.

This trend is most evident with many of the younger generation who have all but abandoned e-mail. A lot of the young people in my life no longer participate in e-mail. My nephew asked me, “Why would you subject yourself to all that crap from everybody in the world?” The only way that I can communicate with him is through Facebook and his mobile device.

He carefully guards both of these connections, never allowing access to anyone he does not trust. While my generation has a desire to “just know what’s going on,” he carefully manages and sequesters his attention to include only those things that truly fascinate. Finding cool stuff is important to him, but he doesn’t do that by stepping out into the public square of the general internet. He finds cool through communication with a small and trusted group of uber social agents, and purveyors of style.

He is not advertising phobic. His Facebook page is filled with fan connections to the products and services that exemplify his life. He boldly proclaims his love of these products with a swagger in his step and a smile on his face. These trusted brands are a badge of coolness and a beloved extension of his personal style. He wears their logos on his clothes and showcases them in his Facebook personal description: “I love the feel of my BAPE jeans, and never wear anything but Nikes.”

As with everything else, the kids in our lives are setting the trend that all of us will soon follow – a life of carefully managed always-on access. Our mobile phone will be a constant companion and leaving home without it will be akin to leaving the house naked.

Trust Will Trump Power
The implication for advertisers – without the ultimate trust of your customers, your brand message won’t just be dismissed, most people will actively hide from it. The advertising job will move away from a mass-audience center, and take on a disturbing bipolar characteristic – full access to those who love you, and yelling at a brick wall for those unfamiliar with your products.

The new technology-empowered ability to banish your message from existence means the passing of ego-driven, feature-focused ads. Your brand conversation will need to be real and genuine. It will need to acknowledge your flaws, but most of all, it will need to listen.

Graeme Newell is a broadcast and cable marketing consultant who specializes in emotional marketing. Check out his teasing seminar here. You can reach Graeme at gnewell@602communications.com.

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