Here’s the funny thing: At the dawn of 2016, although the smartphone is everywhere, in terms of its influence on consumer behaviour it is still in its infancy.

That’s another way of saying that although we all have a smartphone in our pocket, I believe that these devices are set to change the way we think, act and behave in ways we probably can’t predict. But what about the short term?

Here’s three simple ways I think we’ll see the smartphone change the marketing landscape — just a little bit — in 2016. Of course there’ll be more to come after this. But Rome wasn’t built in a day…

Mobile Moments — or The End Of ‘Desktop World’

When it comes to marketing channels, the mobile is about as personal and ubiquitous as it gets. And that’s precisely why we should probably stop seeing it as a marketing channel! Instead, the smart brands of 2016 will be re-thinking how they engage with consumers at a fundamental level.

It’s time to let go of some of the old habits from a desktop-centric world and invest in truly ‘native’ experiences that are meaningful to mobile users. We’ll see a reduction in campaigns – even those sent to smaller audiences, and an increase in responsive and reactive interactions or ‘moments’ that reflect what the individual user is doing, or has just done, at that moment in time.

The best way to think of it is as a friend who appears at just the right time with a relevant offer of help — as opposed to the salesman cold-calling on the phone. Successful brands will fit into the user’s day and appear at the right moment in just this way. If you like, it means the end of ‘marketing’ in the conventional sense and the beginning of true ‘1-to-1’ relationship building (yes — for real this time!)

The Addition Of Context

One way in which we’ll add relevance to those mobile moments is via context.

At the highest level, what this means is that rather than simply targeting interactions based on what we know about the user — her previous interactions with our service, for example, we’ll also fold in what we know about the user’s current environment.

Let’s take an example that everyone understands: the weather. The weather, as any economics textbook will tell us, can have a significant impact on our wants or needs. Or to put it another way, it’s one thing to know you’ve bought ice cream from me in the past. But quite another to know that where you are right now, it’s 90 degrees and sunny.

But of course — that fact makes all the difference. The right ‘mobile moment’ is delivered based on an understanding of both the user themselves and what is happening around them at the time. That means real-time integration of data streams from multiple source, but in 2016 that’s a trend we’ll see an increasing amount of.

Apps Everywhere

Consumers love apps. And we’re going to see the app model spread across a greater array of devices. When we’re talking about a brand that the individual trusts and enjoys – let’s say the BBC for argument’s sake – people like the idea of a curated but interactive app, and the high level of user experience that goes with it.

That example was deliberate, because the next stop for the app is the TV. Apple’s TV announcement in the fall of 2015 built on the growth of video as a medium for content sharing, and it is not hard to envision a very different way of “watching the news” that might involve firing up a BBC app and navigating through interactive video content using a point and click interface.

The app ‘model’ is likely to extend outwards from there – and with it the requirement to manage the user experience and delivering marketing campaigns that are native to these environments. It will certainly raise questions about traditional funding of the media (if such a thing can be said to still exist!).

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