Mobile War

Mobile marketing and media

The expression ‘traditional media’ lost much of its meaning and significance soon after the emergence of the Internet. I personally don’t watch television, and I only listen to the radio when I’m in the car; I don’t read the paper, and I’m not subscribed to any print news media. Nevertheless, even if I wanted to consciously and actively isolate myself from the world and all its current events – isolate myself from ‘traditional media’ – it’d be a near impossible mission.

When I’m scrolling through my Facebook Feed, I’m inundated not just with pictures of friends’ lunches, but also with 'breaking stories'. These stories don’t only come solely in written form; they come as videos and podcasts, they’re links that take me to online journals and magazines I had no idea existed. They take me to big platforms with hundreds of thousands of subscribers and smaller, lesser known ones sporting readerships of only a few thousand, and that’s just Facebook.

If I jump on Twitter or LinkedIn the same thing goes. I don’t have to physically type the www of a major news corporation into my URL bar in order to access news, of any sort. The news streams directly into various social (and other) apps and then direct into my phone, which follows me about wherever I go.

Beyond that, the 'news' that streams into my social media feeds isn’t limited to the articles and links that my friends share. Advertising on these social sites is now, across the board, generated by my past browsing habits. What does that mean? It means that the advertisement's I see come directly from those not-so-traditional media outlets themselves.

Blurred Lines

Traditional media no longer exists because the line between social media and, well, traditional media has been blurred beyond recognition.

The evidence for this is obvious, just take a look at Facebook Instant Articles. A new service (which you can read about here) that is directly partnering up with some big media organisations of the world – The New York Times, BBC NEWS, National Geographic (to name a few) – to offer its users a faster and more immersive way of experiencing media. Snapchat, a rather unlikely platform to be pushing news, is doing something very similar with their ‘Discover’ platform.

Unlike Facebook Instant Articles, Discover inserts itself directly into, or rather layers itself on top of, Snapchat’s user framework. It’s not its own platform like Facebook Instant Articles, but it’s not a mere space dedicated to advertising. It’s a combination of both.

Evan Spiegel – Snapchat’s founder – says that he views advertising space not as a necessary nuisance, an unavoidable part of deriving revenue from his service, but rather as a product.

"A lot of people look at Internet advertising as a tax on the system," Spiegel said. "That’s sort of discouraging if you care about making new products."

It’s a type of thinking that opts to treat this content as an enticement, as something made for the users rather than in spite of them. Just like any other product, I guess. It has already started inviting "brands and publications to get in on the action with the new Discover channels, which provide curated news from partners like the Discovery Channel, CNN, Comedy Central and ESPN." Will this tactic prove to be effective? Despite early signs suggesting that the answer is no (according to the BBC), we can only wait and see.

Apple looks like it wants a piece of this publishing pie as well with Apple News. If you’d heard about the rumours - which for a while remained merely speculative - it turns out they’re true: Apple intends to replace Newstand with Apple News. News, like Facebook Articles and Snapchat’s Discover, brings content from publishers across the world. It will effectively be another customisable feed of content and articles in app form. Some of News’s launch partners include names like The Economist, Time, Wired, BuzzFeed, and Bloomberg Business. Like Facebook Articles, it seems that one of News’s features is that it will look beautiful and load quickly. Which is a must if it is to succeed.

What does it all mean?

Well, to put it tersely, it means that the battle for your attention is on. What’s more, and more importantly, the battlefield is being narrowed down to the small screen space on your mobile phone.

The more eyes that these various media apps get, the more revenue they generate, and considering that mobile is one of the biggest revenue growth areas for advertisers, why not make mobile the centre focus?

According to BI Intelligence, the mobile ad market is the fastest growing area of ad revenue. It includes revenue from mobile search ads, mobile web and in-app display ads, as well as video ads on mobile. BI Intelligence estimates that mobile ad revenue will reach a five-year compound annual growth rate of 49.7%, completely eclipsing the likes of the desktop and print. With the advent of the phablet and with mobile technology becoming better and faster each year, it’s now possible and much easier for advertisers to create mobile-friendly content that people actually care about. So again, if you can, and if this is an area getting good results – why not?

The Reach of Social Media is on the Decline

As you might expect, the organic reach that businesses get through their social media avenues is plummeting.

In March, the average organic reach of a Facebook post was down to 2.6% of its audience. The reason behind this quite simply boils down to that social platforms like these want you to pay for the exposure they provide.

An insightful article by Contently argues that in light of this development, for businesses without already established followings (1-million +), paying for social is better than doing social. Which translates as: sponsoring the content you already have is more effective than paying to create new content. Yet another reason that these new and emerging platforms like Facebook Instant Articles, Apple News, and Snapchat Discovery will prove such a tantalising proposition for businesses that, prior, thought the free energy of social media would offer enough momentum to propel them into their customers’ hearts.

If you want your content to be seen, it’s going to cost you. Social media is no longer there merely for friends and family to stay in touch; now, it’s a big industry.

Some Final Thoughts

These new platforms might just well be the final coffin needed to lay what some people still refer to as ‘traditional media’ to rest. They are the stepping-stones building paths that are leading us into the future of media consumption.

How these platforms will integrate into technologies like iBeacon and geo-targeting – another question certainly worth examining – still remains a mystery. All it takes is for one tech developer to create something no one expected, throw that new invention into our cyber works and boom! we’re headed in a completely different direction.

We’re still very much in the infancy of this technological revolution, standing on the precipice and ready to spiral straight into a strange digital world that eagerly awaits our arrival.