I like to say that the smartphone is the most intimate device we've ever owned. By that, I don't necessarily mean because of the private pictures people send to each other, although that could certainly apply. I'm talking about how something that fits in our pockets, that's with us when we're awake and we're asleep, contains all the digital activity in our lives.
What makes mobile so compelling is that it is not limited by the size of its screen, which is the first complaint by marketers when just treating it as real estate. Because it's so intimate, the phone represents an amazing opportunity to connect your brand with your consumer in a much more impactful way. I believe that the best way to do this is to look at the "moments" your consumers experience while on their phones. Whether it's when they are "favoriting" a song, booking a table, leveling up in a game, logging a run, crossing off items on their grocery shopping lists, or even celebrating their favorite team's latest win, these are all ephemeral touchpoints that if acknowledged, could do amazing things for your brand.
Consider this: The reach and frequency model that media is typically bought with must be viewed differently for mobile. Being on the screen too many times, in every moment, is only a reason for your consumer to respond negatively. Developers of apps often give people the choice to pay to remove ads. This is something that people are willing to do -- pay to remove you. For a device so central to a consumer's life, it is important to understand what people are doing already if you want to tap into existing patterns of behavior. Too often mobile becomes an opportunity to manipulate and to incent. Rather than making your consumers useful to you, consider how you can be useful to them.
The moment is also the ultimate sign of intent. Google's version was the query. On mobile, we're less about querying and more about "doing." The act of using an app and experiencing moments is an indicator of our past context, current need, and future tasks. Bookmarking a salad recipe at 3:00 p.m. means something is going to be put on the dinner table tonight that looks like that salad. Playing a game at O'Hare when flight data shows that heavy delays are impacting the airport (again) means that you're delayed and need to kill time. Even these negative moments can provide an opportunity to forge close connections with consumers. Imagine American Express presenting you with a lounge pass for that delayed moment.
When you are able to properly participate in consumers' mobile behavior patterns, you're also able to build your brand. You can acquire, and ultimately, reinforce, which hints a lot at loyalty. Building loyalty doesn't have to happen through a rewards card or a VIP program. Loyalty can be built moment by moment.
What we've learned at Kiip is that moments can be at scale and that rewards are the best engagement mechanism if pinpointed properly. In 2013 we saw almost 2 billion "rewardable" moments. This means 2 billion moments of significance that brands played a part in. From McDonald's, P&G, Unilever, Mars, Georgia Pacific, and Pepsi, we've been able to reward goods, content, access, and more. The result is amazing engagement, consistently happy consumers, and mobile insights that inform an area that typically many media folks are unaware of -- their consumers' mobile behavior patterns.
Ultimately, placing the consumer at the center is a shift from an annoying medium to a useful medium. Consumers don't like banners on their phones. It is the duty of our industry to make efforts to try new delivery mechanisms of advertising. Perhaps soon the norm will no longer be to merely buy impressions, but to capture moments.
Brian Wong is CEO and co-founder of Kiip.
On Twitter? Follow Wong at @brian_wong. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.