JESHOOTScom / Pixabay

For the last few years, every mobile marketing trends piece seems to include the words “AI” and “mobile pay” somewhere. Admittedly those are always trending and new possibilities are entering those respective arenas, hence their constant inclusion. But to avoid getting off on the wrong foot with this trends article, let’s get those two out of the way quickly: AI will be a trend line for the remainder of 2018 and into 2019, but largely by way of AI-powered ads. Mobile pay is probably 10 years away from “mass market” — at least in the eyes of Apple executives — but with Chase, CVS, and other major brands/retailers on board now, you’ll increasingly see the option as part of mobile marketing campaigns, in-app purchasing, etc.

OK, with the “big two” out of the way, what other trends can we expect for the back half of 2018?

Increasing awareness of fraud protection

Fraud is beginning to creep its way into App Store Optimization (ASO) processes, and with 2016-2017 being a period where there were a lot of news stories about hacks, breaches, data being compromised, etc. — mobile users want to know they’re safe. We’re arriving at a place psychologically where users are OK giving up their information because they know it could lead to more targeted offers, but they absolutely want to make sure that information is kept safe aside from a few push notifications about sweet new sneakers. The problem in this space right now is that the “attack surface” — how someone can exploit a mobile network, in other words — increases almost hourly, but security staffing (the number of employees a company hires to police their networks) has almost flat-lined. Automated security will probably eventually be the answer, but will that require a lengthy, tedious verification process for a simple install, thus corrupting user experience?

Focus on the broader ecosystem

Mobile is more than just ads and apps. An overly-myopic focus there can be problematic, especially in an era when many CMOs/marketing teams are being asked to own “customer engagement” as well as conventional marketing metrics.


This trend has been on the rise for a few years, but by late 2019/early 2020 it might be to “scale.” The most interesting application of chatbots are probably within the recruiting/hiring space — increasing communication, transparency, etc. — but within mobile marketing they can help automate parts of the process and, when the tech is a bit more advanced, even help with cross-sells and upsells in-app. The hurdle here has always been (and remains) how natural/organic the process feels. If a user feels as if they’re talking to a bot, they may not engage as fully, opting to move to a real person. Until that “human touch” quality is there, chatbots will be a nice to have within apps and general mobile marketing processes; once that human connection is determinable, they become a “need to have.”

Improved targeting

Snap recently worked with Nielsen on this, and with good measure — effective audience targeting is the Holy Grail of mobile. Without it, you’re pushing fluff. As some mobile marketing suites become more nuanced (a trend you’ll also increasingly see), marketers should spend time looking at what their partner platforms offer. How can you segment? What groups are dynamic? How can you better target based on past activity? Sometimes as marketers we get obsessed with the shiny new tools, as opposed to sitting down with a pen and paper and thinking through all the steps of who we are, what we offer, and how to effectively get that in front of people.

What other trends do you expect to see before the conclusion of 2018?