The mobile space is still so very new that it can seem threatening to some. Brands and agencies used to traditional media tactics may have some difficulty translating them to the new medium, and even those that have similar equivalents (mobile display ads and internet banner ads) might not necessarily work in an identical fashion, or may have nuances that are not immediately apparent.
The other pitfall with mobile is a tendency to get caught up with the bells and whistles. The technology is, on one hand, so familiar (because we all have mobile phones in our pockets) and yet has the capability of doing so much more than previously imagined. Who wouldn’t get excited at the thought of some super-duper multimedia campaign waged on all mobile fronts, using interactive voice response, SMS, MMS and maybe even a customised app, tied in to strong social media involvement, maybe even cross media promotion?
But all that would simply overwhelm the consumer, who would come face to face with branding efforts at every turn, and then fatigue would set in to the detriment of the brand. It is the consumer that we need to pay attention to, not the medium, not the technology, not the bells and whistles and fancy rich media.
The consumer has changed so drastically in the last couple of years that everyone is running to catch up. Rather than simply sitting back and passively consuming (as the name “consumer” suggests), today’s netizen or digital citizen or techsumer (there are a half-dozen more names) is something altogether different. This consumer has far less restrictions and limitations than before. He or she is not limited to consuming media that has been approved for distribution in his region – oh, no, the consumer is quite capable of going out and acquiring media on their own. Whether it is going online to buy DVDs of a television show that isn’t airing in their region, or illegally downloading a computer game, or setting up an app store account in another country (with some help from friends) to buy e-books that aren’t sold in the home market, the consumer has a great deal more power, flexibility and control than before.
Of course it is technology that makes all this possible, well, technology and the Internet. The consumer takes technology for granted, and is adept at its use. Globalisation isn’t just something that affects industries and economies. Globalisation is now personal, and the consumer can get to almost anything they want, anywhere in the world, given enough time and money and effort.
What does this mean for brands and agencies? It means that they need to rethink their strategies, and bear in mind that the consumer, right now, the one that they’re trying to reach out to, is a different animal from what they may have understood before. And once that is taken into account, then the job is the same: tell compelling stories, engage the consumer, interact with them, and build the brand that way.