That Was The Year That Was

David Murphy

David_7How was it for you? 2013 that is. We’ve had an incredibly good and busy one, with the largest number of entries ever for our Effective Mobile Marketing Awards, culminating in a Gala Dinner for 270 people that sold out four weeks before the event; three well-attended and insightful one-day conferences, the Mobile Retail Summit, Mobile Gambling Summit and Mobile Marketing Live; plus no less than 40 Masterclasses in the UK, US and Barcelona.

There’s been so much going on that it is difficult sometimes to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, but it’s worth doing, and I’m helped in this respect by some research from the IAB which they shared with us a couple of weeks ago.

Every year since 2008, the IAB in the UK has run its Agency Snapshop study, in which it surveys executives from a variety of digital creative and media agencies about their knowledge and understanding of mobile marketing. This year, the survey attracted 307 responses, compared to 353 last year and 406 in 2011. That, in itself, is telling. We’re all time-poor and getting anyone to take part in a study for the greater good gets harder with each passing week.

The survey covers a variety of questions asking how much the respondents know about everything from responsive design and Near Field Communication to mobile coupons and rich media mobile advertising. But one slide in particular stood out for me, where the IAB has put together a word cloud in response to the question: What do you think is the most exciting development in mobile advertising?

In 2011, the standout words were targeting, location, NFC, tablets and HTML5. In 2012, NFC retained its place, and was joined by Augmented Reality, geo-location services, location-based services and Weve. This was at a time, of course, when everyone was getting very excited about Weve. Lately, we’ve heard very little of or from them, though their website informs us that they recently moved into new offices. Nice. There may be some great Weve campaigns going on, but if so, it doesn’t seem as if Weve or the agencies behind them are being allowed to talk about them.

2013 iab word cloudLooking at this year’s responses, NFC is once again one of the standout words, while targeting and location return to the spotlight, joined by tracking, which makes sense, and native, which also makes sense given all the noise that Facebook and Twitter have made about native advertising on their platforms in recent months.

I’m surprised, though, that there’s no mention of programmatic or real-time bidding. If there’s one buzzword in mobile advertising right now, programmatic is it, so it’s odd that it doesn’t seem to be on many agency execs’ radar. I think it soon will be.

I’m surprised also that NFC is still up there; clearly, the hype around the technology shows no sign of abating. Is there a ton of NFC stuff going on that we have somehow missed? I know the outdoor companies are starting to NFC-up some of their poster sites, but it’s hardly mass market right now is it?

2014 trends
So what of 2014’s word cloud, what can we expect to see on there? Tracking, I would say is a dead cert. As are programmatic, native, and of course, tablet. With forecasts of over 4m new tablet owners in the UK alone come Christmas day, making over 20m in total, tablets are fast becoming ubiquitous, but with the odd exception, no one seems to me making much of an effort to target tablet users with rich, tablet-friendly ads when they are browsing sites on iPads and other tablet devices.

iBeacon will also be big, I think, once retailers get their heads round it (why not start here). And maybe Passbook too, as more brands start to tap into the potential it offers to target consumers with offers seamlessly, efficiently and smartly, with neat touches like popping a relevant retail offer on to the user’s home screen when they comes within a certain distance of one of the retailer’s stores. We saw a couple of good examples of Passbook campaigns in this year’s Awards from Millennial Media/Eagle Eye/Harvester and Waitrose/Manning Gottlieb OMD, and I expect to see many more in next year’s Awards.

And finally, wearables. It’s early days for the tech, but this is surely where the next wave of mobile development is focused. Heads-up displays, watches, clothing; the days of thinking of mobile as a phone are fast coming to an end. There’s a brave new world round the corner – bring it on!