Getting the right balance in mobile marketing
A view from Sue Unerman

Getting the right balance in mobile marketing

"The smartphone is the most successful consumer device ever."

Or so Deloitte says. While a part of me wonders where this leaves the toaster (surely the best consumer device since sliced bread?), the immediate evidence of a billion upgrades in a single year is convincing.

We are obsessed with them, of course. At a recent mobile get-together, I saw Maslow’s hierarchy of needs chart reimagined. It ran as usual: (from top to bottom) self-actualisation; esteem; love/belonging; safety; physiological. This was followed by: Wi-Fi and phone battery.

The age group that has seen the biggest increase in smartphone adoption in the past year is the 55-plus, at 50 per cent - which means there is still more potential. It’s unbearable to think about (life has changed so much in this respect in the past decade), but nearly a third of us check our phones between 26 and 100 times a day, and 83 per cent of us within an hour of waking.

This is only set to continue as more personalisation makes the device even more useful. For instance, many people have been praising the pedometer function in the new iPhone to me recently. No Fitbit necessary.

My response is: yes, but can you drop it in the bath (as I can with my Sony Xperia)?

In terms of marketing, mobile obviously gives us fast data about what users are up to. If we begin to work in a more agile way, then we can course correct a media plan as never before.

We will see consumer expectations for useful and highly personalised content rise – and fast. A balance will need to be struck between offering something useful specific to an individual and overdoing it so that the individual feels like they are being stalked.

This will vary enormously by category and brand. Take my internet shopping, for example. I’d like to jump to the next stage now. I’d like recommendations based exactly on my taste (they’re not bad at this, but it has been a long time since I’ve needed anything from Pampers!) and I’d like my cupboards, bins and fridge to be smart enough to get the order right for me. On the other hand, I’d like my bank to stop behaving like my dad and reacting in a "How much?! Are you SURE?" way whenever I try to buy a big-ticket item.

The race to get this right will deliver competitive advantage for those that manage it.

Sue Unerman is the chief strategy officer at MediaCom