2012: Mobile, Social, Local and You
by Ivan Braiker
Despite most retailers’ efforts to foist Christmas upon us in September, with Thanksgiving (and, for many stations, the ritual playing of “Alice’s Restaurant”) a week away, the holiday season is finally, truly upon us. Beyond 17 minutes of Arlo Gurthrie, in the next month, many music stations will unveil their “Top XX Jams of 2011” lists (with the XX always magically aligning with their spot on the dial), a chance to look back at the song that provided the soundtrack for the year.
Today, I’d prefer to look ahead to 2012 and make a few predictions on what the next year holds for mobile and radio. 2012 will be the year of the mobile Web. I’m not sure if I can say anything that this recent statistic from Google and research firm Ipsos can’t: “43% of online adults said they'd give up beer for a month in exchange for internet access via smartphone.” The mobile Web’s reach is on the rise—particularly for search. In fact, recent research shows consumers prefer mobile browsers for banking, travel, shopping, local info, news, video, sports and blogs and prefer apps for games, social media, maps and music—and that one-in-seven searches now originates from a mobile device. comScore’s recent white paper on “digital omnivores” furthers the point – nearly 7 percent of all Web traffic in the U.S. comes from devices other than computers. There’s a huge opportunity for radio to embrace the mobile Web.
Smartphones’ ascension to device dominance continues rapidly. Even using the more conservative figures, smart phone adoption has been vast and wide-reaching. Let me throw a paragraph of numbers at you:
Nearly a third of all Americans – 84.5 million people older than 13 – own smartphones. Fifty-four percent of mobile phone users age 18-24 and 35-44 own smartphones—and the percentage leaps to 62% for those age 25-34. But the real growth is going to come in the older demographics—already, 30% of U.S. mobile phone owners age 55-64 and 18% age 65 or older use smartphones.
The numbers are immense. Yet, there are still three platforms, Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and RIM’s BlackBerry, jockeying for position. If you are going mobile with Web content, be sure it can render correctly, no matter which device. The connection between mobile and social will become tighter. More than 72 million Americans accessed social networking sites or blogs via their mobile devices in August, a figure that represents a 37% jump from the same time last year, according to data compiled by comScore. Social networking from mobile devices is on the rise—and mobile marketing can extend the benefits of stations’ existing investments in their Facebook and Twitter presence.
As programming goes more national, mobile will further emerge as a local lifeline. A few weeks back,I wrote a piece outlining the potential for mobile in the wake of recent industry trends. The stories about the “future of local radio” have moved into the mainstream, most recently with Steve Knopper’s “Rock Radio Takes Another Hit” in the current issue of Rolling Stone. Local stations will use SMS-based loyalty programs—including listener clubs, sports updates and traffic and weather alerts—to maintain a local identity with their listeners.
For mobile, 2012 is the year of measurability. The time to “dabble” in SMS or the mobile Web is over—technology and marketing investments need to provide a quick, measurable return to be worthwhile. And as I’ve said before, mobile is the only truly measurable advertising medium that can be easily measured. If you can’t draw a direct line between a mobile program and your bottom line, it’s time to re-think the program.
Which leads me to my last point. Google is famous for keeping its products in perpetual “Beta,” despite their widespread availability. In a 2008 article, a Google spokesperson said, “We believe beta has a different meaning when applied to applications on the Web, where people expect continual improvements in a product.” There are huge opportunities and tremendous synergies between mobile and radio—and mobile provides the ability to “always be in Beta” It is important to partner with trusted advisers who can help you measure the success of your mobile investments—and make real-time recommendations when campaigns aren’t working.
Ivan Braiker is the president of Hipcricket+Augme Technologies, Inc and can be reached at 425.202.0833 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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