In just the last ten years, we’ve seen the rise of two completely new marketing distribution channels, online and mobile. Within the United States, both channels would seem to be ubiquitous. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2010, 77% of U.S. households have at least one computer. According to a Pew Internet Project, in 2012, 85% of American adults had at least one cell phone. The rate of penetration of both these devices into our lives is astounding. By way of comparison, there was at least a 45-year span of time between radio and television.
Yet, both online and mobile have followed the same growth trajectory of its predecessors. In the early stages of ecommerce, the most advanced retailers had websites that were nothing more than a brochure featuring product descriptions. Websites were merely a novel way to access information. There was no engagement, no interaction, no call to action. To think how far we’ve come in just a decade. Live chat, 360-degree photos, video, dynamic landing pages personalized based on consumer behavior. All of these functions fuel marketing. Each technology was developed as a way to convert the consumer from mere interest to committed buyer. In comparison, it took ten years after the television was introduced for the first commercial to air.
We’re going through that exact same evolution with mobile right now. The newness of the channel spawned a wide range of apps, from games to discussion boards. It wasn’t until later that those apps became monetized with simple text ads. But as mobile technology evolves, as brands realize that mobile is not just a platform for advertising, but a direct communication channel between the brand and the individual end consumer, we’ll start to see a seamless connection between the brand and the consumer. With the mobile channel, we now have a direct connection to a specific individual. Radio, television, computer, all are devices that can be used by multiple individuals. But a cell phone? My husband wouldn’t even think of grabbing my cell phone on his way out the door. To him, it would be of no use. Our cell phones are imprinted on each of us as individuals, and the right marketers will find a way to harness this characteristic without disengaging the consumer.
Taking all these channels together, we as marketers have the ability today to immerse the consumer in our brand. We have the opportunity to not just sell the consumer on the products, but to engage with the consumer on a personal level. I can’t wait to see what is to come in the next ten years.
- Written by Carolyn Kmet, VP Performance Marketing, All Inclusive Marketing and CADMEF Trustee