There isn't any doubt that mobile will play a big role in the future. And if there was any doubt years ago, there is none now.
Last October, 234 million Americans ages 13 and older used mobile devices; 60.7 million people in the U.S. owned smart phones. After the holidays, you can expect most of these numbers soared even higher, and that doesn't consider the tablet market like the Amazon Kindle or Apple iPad. Communication is everywhere — on the desktop, on the laptop, in the living room, and within the palm of your hand.
Mobile Doesn't Mean Mobile As Much As It Means Portable.
Three years ago, I quoted Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO of Denuo Group, a Publicis Groupe, to underscore the point. He said "the reality of it is that the future does not fit into the containers of the past.”
But when you look at the way the Web has developed since then, it's becoming much more clear that mobile isn't the answer to the future as much as portability. You see, while there might be an emphasis on mobile phones and tablets, plenty of people still sit in front a desktop or plug content into their television sets to consume everything from entertainment to education and from current events to vintage history.
Sometimes they even use two or three devices simultaneously — Tweeting a comment about the show they are watching on television in real time or throwing out ideas related to an article or post they are working on without ever pulling up a new browser. No, not all of it is obvious. Most of it works in layers.
So what is the reality of communication? The reality isn't that the future does not fit into the containers of the past, it's that the future needs to fit in every container of the future. So if you don't consider portability, your marketing is missing out.
Applying Portability To A :30 Television Commercial.
For simplicity of the conceptual model, consider a :30 television commercial.
Ten years ago, most commercials were relatively niche. Thirty seconds aired in between bits of news and entertainment being viewed by people with relatively specific demographics. On a good day, people might even talk about it around the water cooler at work or perhaps a child might recite some jingle to justify the toy making their Christmas list.
Today, as mediums converge, that same 30 seconds can have a much longer shelf life and reach dozens of different audiences and communities. The most obvious placement might be YouTube. But with some adjustments and a willingness to adapt the content to fit any number of segments, the possibilities are as endless as the strategy allows.
People might see the commercial and comment about it on Facebook (using their phones). Or they might see it embedded in a blog post. Or they might see it on a website, while browsing with a tablet. And then they might see it reinforced in front of the television.
If the creative is sustainable enough, they might even share it with their friends, people who may not fit the demographics of the most likely buyer (but might pass it on to people who do). This only scratches the surface when you include email marketing or hundreds of other social networks or (thinking from the public relations perspective) the thousands of people who write about and review products or production.
“Creative without strategy is called 'art.' Creative with strategy is called 'advertising.” — Jef I. Richards
The connector (with) is where advertisers and other communicators need to set their sights. Creative directors and marketing strategists will do more for their clients by considering multiple platforms and devices, not just one. After all, a television commercial isn't only a television commercial anymore much like a 'blog' doesn't always have to be a blog.
Ahead of the pack, it seems to me that Amazon is getting it partly right. Apple is too. It's only some content publishers (especially newspapers) that are still struggling with the concept.
What makes them different? Apple and Amazon aren't thinking in terms of delivery devices anymore. They are thinking in terms of sensory reception or deeper. And if they are not, they ought to be. Sensory reception is about the person, not the medium.
The two sensory receptors that can be touched online are primarily audio and visual, even if audio is confined to the alliteration of the written word. Everything else — especially the point of delivery — is simply a matter of strategically aligning the content to fit the space, which is why the future is a little less mobile and a lot more portable. Any device, anywhere, anytime.