Tag Archives: Mobile device

A $24 Billion Secret

If you use any sort of connected device – a computer, a tablet, or a cell phone – you’re probably (hopefully, anyway) aware that someone is watching.  Maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement, but it’s accurate.  Everything you do, and everywhere you go if it’s a mobile device, is logged, along with some sort of device identifier.  It’s not hard to link a device with a person and that person with behaviors.  That’s really what the targeted advertising business is about.  

In that context, this article from Ad Age shouldn’t come as a real shock, but it’s always a little disconcerting to get a glimpse inside the factory where they make the sausage:

Under the radar, Verizon, Sprint, Telefonica and other carriers have partnered with firms including SAP, IBM, HP and AirSage to manage, package and sell various levels of data to marketers and other clients. It’s all part of a push by the world’s largest phone operators to counteract diminishing subscriber growth through new business ventures that tap into the data that showers from consumers’ mobile web surfing, text messaging and phone calls.

That’s why Verizon bought AOL and some ad tech companies, paying over $4.5 Billion for them.  Think that’s a wise investment?  Well, the global market for telco data as a service is potentially worth $24.1 billion this year, so it seems like it might be to me.  What’s less wise is that most consumers have no clue that all of this information about them – their surfing habits, their travel habits, potentially numbers they’re constantly texting, etc – are being packaged and sold without their consent.  Oh sure – when you sign the contract to use any of the carriers there is a lengthy terms of service agreement you probably clicked right through, and it contained language that said your data may be anonymized and aggregated and sold.  I’m not sure most people understand what that means in real terms.  Try getting phone service without agreeing.

Unlike most apps, which are opt-in, you really have no choice about this.  Are there benefits to the consumer?  Maybe.  In theory, you don’t see ads for things in which you have no interest, and you don’t get information about companies and services that aren’t in your area.   There is a huge downside, however, aside from the creepy factor.  Hackers can steal information that might allow them to know when your home is vacant on a daily basis, for example.  In fact, this sort of thing doesn’t go on in the E.U. countries because of the strict data protections those countries enforce.

The “tell” I see is that the phone companies don’t want to discuss this data business and the revenues they make from selling off our data.  If there wasn’t something nefarious going on, why isn’t it more out in the open?  Maybe if we all knew what was being gathered (300 cellphone events per day per subscriber by some counts), we’d be more curious?  Maybe we’d take steps, as some of us do with tracking blockers on the web, to maintain control of our own data?  What do you think?

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Filed under Huh?

It’s A Mobile World

Some new numbers from the eMarketer folks caught my eye this morning. They released their projections for digital ad spending for the next few years and they show that in 2015, mobile ad spending in the US will increase 50.0%, reaching $28.72 billion and accounting for 49.0% of all digital ad spending. By 2019, mobile ad spending will rise to $65.87 billion, or 72.2% of total digital ad spend.  As they put it:

Next year will be the tipping point where mobile ad spending surpasses desktop. And while desktop advertising will remain a significant portion of marketers’ budgets—approximately $25 billion in each year throughout eMarketer’s forecast period—mobile will continue growing in the double digits to gain more and more market share while desktop spending remains flat.

If you’re doing business outside of the US it’s pretty safe to say that mobile has already passed desktop since most populations outside of North America don’t really have desktops/laptops and rely almost solely on their mobile devices for internet connectivity.  Why is any of the above important to you?

If your business model relies on selling audiences of your content and you haven’t optimized every touchpoint for your content, you are going to be missing the boat.  If your mobile experience is inferior or if you’re depending on mobile web as opposed to investing in an app, you probably ought to revisit your thinking.  Now!

Google has recently updated the search algorithm to rank pages by how mobile friendly they appear. If all you’re doing is porting your desktop experience to mobile, you’re not being smart.  In mobile emphasis needs to be on performance and speed.  Get rid of large header images and use minimalistic design with flatter images.  OK, I won’t get too wonky but the point is you need to ask about this stuff if you’re not the technical expert.

When 3/4 of a market sits in one sector, I want to do everything I can to be participating in that segment.  I’m one of a lot of people who have written before about the need for mobile-first thinking.  Have you been paying attention?  What have you done about it?

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Filed under digital media, Helpful Hints

It’s The Pipe, Stupid

Any of us who consume content via the Internet are aware of how profoundly that consumption has changed over the last few years.  The advent of smart mobile devices and tablets has freed that consumption from the tether of the desktop computer and has started to fulfill the promise of “always on, anytime, any place, any screen.”   From a marketing perspective that has been incredibly frustrating as brands try to keep up with the ever-changing consumption patterns of their intended customer bases.  From a user perspective, it’s gloriously liberating.

From eMarketer.com

Some statistics from the good folks at eMarketer with respect to that change are over there on the chart.  You can see online – desktop – time spent dropping even as consumption of video and social increases.  Look, however, at the rapid growth on mobile devices.  There is a similar pattern to the type of content consumed but the time spent has gone from negligible to half of that on desktops and laptops.   But I don’t think that’s the real story.

Just as important – maybe more so – as the growth of these mobile devices is how all that content gets on those devices.  In other words, the pipe.  For tablets, a lot of the usage is in the home where it’s reasonable to assume the pipe is the home wi-fi network that’s drawing from the basic internet connection – the cable or DSL provider.  For phones and some tablets, it’s the mobile network.

The issue in my mind is that usage of these devices is artificially depressed by the usage constraints placed there by those carriers.  It’s hard to get an unlimited data plan with many carriers and those of us who have those data plans grandfathered in still get hit with bandwidth caps – usage points at which the data gets slowed down.  The carriers often say it’s about managing network capacity.  Which means, of course, it’s about money.

Building a wireless data network is a huge, expensive undertaking.  The carriers have every right to earn back that investment and have an obligation to do so to their shareholders.  The wireless business defends itself from undercutting by municipalities that attempt to install free public wi-fi.  Google, however, has proven it’s possible to roll out an uncapped very high-speed network at reasonable prices.  Admittedly so far this is not a wireless network.  Does anyone think it won’t be at some point?

If not Google, something else will break the dam of bandwidth restrictions.  That’s when the world really changes.  Just as improved cable networks have made HDTV ubiquitous (something like 75% of all homes have HD now), and just as that same bandwidth into the home has made cord-cutting a growing trend, a freed-up, uncapped pipe for mobile will drastically change the landscape.   You agree?

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Filed under Thinking Aloud, What's Going On