Who said mobile addiction is a bad thing, anyway?

I was in the middle of a Trivial Pursuit family marathon over Christmas when I had my first ever true mobile epiphany.

Mobile: Addiction to the dopamine
Mobile: Addiction to the dopamine

As my sister dramatically read the question for a green pie: "What or who does nomophobia describe the fear of?" I realised this was not only my time in the game to shine (cue mass high fives) but also the board game manifestation of a tipping point.

If it’s a question on Trivial Pursuit, then shit’s getting serious.

Last year the media were outraged on a regular basis by ‘mobile addiction’.

Commentators and content creators wanted the nation’s iPhone zombies to quit playing casual games and start a family, try not trolling on Twitter for a minute and have a real-life conversation, stop sending suggestive pictures over Snapchat, and… you know… go to a bar and flirt inappropriately with strangers instead. 

I must confess that Havas Media Labs fanned these flames, too, via our joint research piece with Weve on how mobile and social technologies have changed the boundaries of socially acceptable.

The majority of people now check their phone when there’s a lull in the conversation, and most of us whack it out at dinner, in a meeting and even at church.

We were outraged! But also secretly excited, because let’s be honest, this addiction is fantastic for marketers.

So hold on to your handsets, because things are about to get really interesting: 

1. Text messages release dopamine. That little ‘ping’ noise has a remarkable effect on the human brain, releasing the same chemical that’s released when we’re happy or excited.

If you can provide a ping and then follow through with a brilliant reward, you’re basically nailing the concept of positive reinforcement.

2. Always-on means always-open. Innovation queens, Unilever, have already announced they’re working with ibeacons to gather data and retarget, so now’s the time for everyone else to catch up.

At its most basic, as a retailer you should be using the technology to add depth to the shopping experience through personalisation. 

3. Mobile addicts have lots of mobile behaviours. The amount of data we can grab on mobile users via operators wows even me.

Phone call habits, location details, app usage… these new insights can help us build up better customer profiles and make the planning process even more robust and genuine.

4. Mobile addicts are driving social experimentation. Snapchat was the fastest growing platform in the UK last year, and it now has six million active users.

Millenials’ relentless impatience and love of the new has made working in social media a hundred times more dynamic and exciting. The industry’s now paying attention to new platforms, rather than letting Facebook dominate.

5. Mobile is about to start seriously blowing people’s minds. In 2015, when virtual reality headsets become a widely available accessory, mobile creativity will be one of the most exciting disciplines.

Having already played with the Samsung Gear and made the decision to be a future owner, I’ll be one of the first in line to take my mobile addiction to the next level.

In fact - unless Trivial Pursuit starts building a social VR version sharpish, I should probably warn my family to get the cold turkey ready for next Christmas.

Amy Kean is head of futures at Havas Media, and part of Brand Republic's new convergence panel