A person's a person, no matter how small
I think every year of this millennium has been 'the year of mobile' but for me 2014 was when it became painfully apparent the Australian digital media was well out of step with our audience.
For the brands I'm closest to, which thrive on being immediate and relevant to a highly connected audience, mobile quickly overtook desktop last year as the primary way of connecting to us digitally. Yet the Australian product offering at that time was predominantly desktop and our 'm-sites' were a scaled down version of what we were offering on the big screen.
Likewise, our commercial offering was out of step. Here were all these people, actively engaged with brand with their most relevant device and yet our mobile offering was limited. The solution will come in phases, but phase one was clear: get rid of the idea of a 'mobile audience' and a 'web audience' and focus our content, product and commercial offerings around people. To quote the great Dr Seuss, we were guided by a simple principle, "A person's a person, no matter how small".
I can see five key areas where Australian marketers, agencies and publishers need to get smarter, device-agnostic campaigns in front of people:
Measurement: We know that mobile measurement in Australia has been struggling to keep up with the enormous shifts we're seeing in audience time and attention. I believe the work that the IAB's Gai Le Roy outlined in her column last month will go a long way in quantifying the audience for agencies. If you can measure the activity you can value it.
Product: Having fully responsive sites that can serve ads on any screen, regardless of device, is essential. I'm still stunned to see publishers in Australia who haven't moved to responsive sites, or are yet to reconcile their mobile browsing experience with their app experience. There are some big ships to turn, but publishers need to have a mobile-first approach to their product, content and ad solutions.
Data: The value in mobile has always been in the data – how we can access real-time, location-based information on a highly personal device in a way that doesn't completely creep out the audience. I'm still looking to see a great local execution that uses the full force of targeting capabilities, in real time to target, retarget and alter creative based on where I am and what I'm doing. We all know the promise of tailored offers as I head out to lunch or pass a favourite bar but all the examples I know are in the US.
Integrated/native/branded content: I'm not sure what you're calling it this week, but regardless, the value of mobile in getting a contextually relevant client message in front of your audience by working with publishers to create or amplify content is still hidden. The reality is, mobile is the first screen for awareness, engagement AND action and we need to stop looking at the execution for web audiences as the primary purpose. It's time for integrated/native/branded to look for the opportunities to click to call, get directions or share socially in a mobile lead environment.
Engaging creative: I was very interested to see Fairfax's Adam Mather quoted last month on the need to focus on mobile creative, and what's coming out of the Fairfax in-house studios are great examples of the direction we need to head in. The question is, why does this need to be publisher lead? There is a challenge that comes with designing for the smaller screen that creatives can embrace and then extrapolate to the bigger format, instead of 'shrinking' the brand, the message and the impact.
There's a lot of work to be done, both for our offering and I think for the industry in general, but to quote our guiding Dr Seuss again "It's not about what it is, it's about what it can become."
Kate Beddoe is National Digital Director for Australian Radio Network.