Mobile Marketer has re-launched! Click here to learn more!

Can the iPhone take all the credit for mobile marketing?

Apple's iPhone opened up significant opportunities for marketers when it came on the scene in 2007 and since then numerous developments  have led to new opportunities in terms of scale and reach.

Apple's iPhone taught consumers that sharing information about their location and other data about themselves via a mobile device can be fun and beneficial, opening the door for marketers to target consumers via mobile. However, with many brands still lacking a robust mobile strategy, marketers are looking for the next big advancement that could pave the way for the channel to reach critical mass.

?Given how important the iPhone was and is ? to defining the modern smartphone experience, it would be difficult to name any developments that came after that wouldn't trace its origins back to the iPhone,? said Chia Chen, New York-based North American mobile practice lead at Digitas.

?For example, the arrival of mobile games as a mass reach digital content form is traceable to iPhone's blend of multimedia features and Apple's App Store,? he said.

?And even mobile display advertising which predates the iPhone ? got a huge boost when Apple launched the iAd.?

Laying the groundwork
The iPhone laid the groundwork for several meaningful changes in consumer behavior, such as making it commonplace for consumers to access the Internet via a mobile device. As a result, there is significantly more opportunity for marketers to target messages to these users.

While some have suggested that the pace of change in mobile marketing has been more evolution than revolutionary since the advent of the first iPhone, a few advances have significantly improved marketers efforts in mobile.

Perhaps just as significant was the introduction of the iPad in 2010. Not only did 300,000 devices sell on the first day, but the iPad opened the way for other tablets ? although few have come to close to its popularity with consumers.

What makes the iPad a game changer though is that 63 percent of tablet users make a purchase on their device compared with 83 percent of PC owners. Over the next few years, tablets are expected to eventually eclipse PCs in terms of purchasing.

Another significant development was the introduction of iAd in 2010. This gave marketers the ability to offer an ad experience that does not force mobile users to leave the app they are engaging with.

The launch of Android also had a big impact on mobile marketing by making smartphones accessible to a greater number of people and, thereby, increasing a brand?s potential reach.

?What Android did was take some of the advances that Apple made with the iPhone and bring them to a much larger scale,? said Noah Elkin, principal analyst at eMarketer, New York.

Wireless networks are also now faster than ever and continue to get faster, with wireless carriers investing significantly in this area. As a result, consumers are able to engage in more experiences on their mobile devices and have those experiences be easier and faster to access.

Additionally, consumers are increasingly adopting mobile for a wide range of daily activities, opening the door for more and different kinds of brands to reach consumers via the channel.

?All together, these have opened a lot more doors for marketers and consumers to connect with each other,? Mr. Elkin said.

Prioritizing mobile
However, despite all the advances in mobile marketing, there are still a large number of marketers doing very little or nothing in the channel. Since this has nothing to with the need for better technology or analytics, mobile marketing is likely to not make another big advance until marketers make it a bigger priority.

?There is still a large percentage of marketers that is doing very little or nothing with mobile because it doesn?t necessarily rank high on their priority list,? Mr. Elkin said.

?It is not a question of lack of scale or anything that is lacking in terms of the devices,? he said. ?It is really more of a question of prioritization on the part of marketers and having the knowledge and the know how to really reach their mobilized audience.

Developments that are likely to have a big impact on mobile marketing are the ability to target users across multiple screens and the advent of an authoritative method for attributing responses and results across multiple screens.

?While fairly unsexy, these developments will help to quantify the benefits of post-PC digital media and thus unlock investment,? Digitas? Mr. Chen said.

One of the advances that could open up a lot of new opportunities in marketing is the mobile wallet.

While several different mobile wallets are currently being tested, there is no consistency in the experience. Experimentation is likely to continue for another year or two but once the winners start to emerge, so will the opportunities.

?The mobile wallet is going to be real opportunity for marketers to develop that true one-to-one customer relationship,? said Dan Israel, Atlanta-based strategy lead for mobile practice at SapientNitro.

?A brand has to figure out how to connect with a person before, during and after a purchase,? he said.

?Mobile wallets provide a way to stay relevant and top of mind with the consumer at different points during that relationship.?