Up for a moment, back toward their lap.
Up down. Up down.
In rush hour traffic they’re the ones who get caught off guard when it’s time to start moving again. Or who slam on their brakes at the last second with a startled look on their faces as they buggily turn right and left to see if anyone else noticed that their near accident was due to texting while driving. But of course no one else did because they were texting, too. Statistics waiting to happen.
I admit it. I was once an on-the-road-texter. But as I started to notice out my rear view mirror that drivers behind me had no idea how close they were to the back end of my car – it’s hard to notice stuff like that when your eyes are pointed at your crotch, which is where most people seem to keep their phones despite research suggesting that’s not such a good idea — I realized that it might be wise to pay better attention myself. Just in case I have to swerve out of the way, accelerate to avoid someone driving into my trunk, or worse, dodge a drifting lane invader.
So I stopped.
But now that I have one less distraction while driving I can’t help but notice that I’m the only person not texting while driving.
At least in Boston.
Given we’re a city known for insane drivers and risk-taking pedestrians this has me concerned. The police do nothing. Unless of course a texting driver kills a pedestrian or takes out a fellow motorist. And while I don’t want to sound like one of those reformed smokers who feels compelled to lecture those still practicing, I am thinking that maybe I’ll start calling out people who text and drive. See if it becomes a movement or starts a new behavior.
It’s not hard, and it’s comparatively safe. I simply turn on my voice recorder before I start to drive and as I see road texters behind me or in front of me I record their license plate along with car make and model into the recorder.
For example, here are couple from this morning. The guy in the white Subaru, Massachusetts plate 74ES19, must have been 65 or 70, white-haired, texting away as if he were a teenage girl. Not your stereotypical texter at all. The women in the blue/gray Acura, Massachusetts 96VW17, appeared to be a professional worker on her way into the city. Both of them nearly hit other cars, but miraculously managed to avoid any impact. No way I am buying new car as long as I drive in and out of Boston.
Anyway, if you’re interested in outing texters on the road, let me know. We could put up a website and upload license plates of texting drivers.
Then again, some of our anti-texting community might get carried away. Start snapping actual photos. Putting them on Instagram or Facebook. Perhaps even doing so while they, too, are driving.
It would be sadly ironic if an anti-texting citizen watchdog got into an accident while photographing the texting driver.
Screw it. Maybe I’ll just get Hummer.
I just got back from my first trip to Mobile, Alabama. For most people an inaugural visit to the original home of Mardi Gras would be to hear some really good Dixie Land Jazz. And while I did get in some of that, the purpose in this case was to help Google get all, or at least 500, local businesses optimized for mobile.
To its credit Google and the competent folks at Duda Mobile agreed to Mobilize Mobile, creating optimized sites for free and covering hosting for a full year. The effort makes sense for both Google and the recipient small businesses. Ad Words ads that show up on a Google search made from a smart phone become a lot more effective when they link to a site that “searchers” find useful and easy to navigate. Everybody wins – Google, the business, and most importantly, the user.
The program, going on this week, includes two days of seminars, training, and site conversion along with a little bit of evangelizing. I had some responsibility for the latter, presenting to 200 ad agency and brand folks last night at an event held at Red Square Agency.
Jason Spero, director of mobile at Google spoke first, covering trends and insights that leave no doubt about the proliferation of devices, changes in search behavior and a plethora of other uses. My job was to remind ad agencies that they need to jump on this opportunity full force while it is still early enough not to be late. An awful lot of advertising agencies were caught off guard with the pace of change brought on by all things digital. Many missed it out again when social media altered consumer behavior forever. Mobile is bigger than either of the previous disruptions and will inevitably affect every section of the purchase funnel, from awareness to loyalty. You don’t want to miss out on this one.
A couple of key facts are worth noting. First from Jason: “The consumer is adopting mobile and all that it offers far more quickly than brands, marketers and small businesses.” That alone should be enough to wake up any agencies or brands that haven’t put the newest digital movement at the forefront of their marketing efforts.
Second, from a conversation I had a few months ago with Joe Ferra, head of Fidelity’s mobile marketing: “Fifty percent of Fidelity trades, transactions and inquiries will soon be made from a mobile device.” That’s a wake-up call to anyone who thinks this is all about for 18—24 year olds. Doubt many of them are trading equities with Fidelity.
And finally, the battle for mobile payments, about to escalate as Google, Apple, American Express all vie for dominance, will end up creating numerous opportunities for retailers. We’ll know who’s in the store, when they were last there, their past purchase behaviors and their current loyalty status. Doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to see the opportunities in that.
Anyway, below is my presentation. (Or here’s a version with a few notes attached.) Up here in Massachusetts we give the presentations first, then open the bar and start partying. On the Gulf Coast, they party first — kicking out a few jazz tunes and making sure everyone has a drink or two before they invite the presenters up on stage.
But this alternative sequence made my argument for mobile sites even more convincing. If you think it’s tough to pinch, zoom and navigate an unfriendly mobile site when you’re totally sober, try it after a couple of drinks. Can you imagine searching from your smart phone for events on Mobile’s Mardi Gras site next February if it’s not optimized for mobile?
If you have a chance, visit the warm welcoming city of Mobile. It’s a happening town. Reminds me of Austin. And for the best grits there, try True’s.
There is no shortage of facts, figures, stats and predictions on the proliferation of mobile and the market penetration of smart phones. Apparently you can make a pretty good living issuing research reports about how many people now have smartphones and what they’re using them for. (Hint: That would be everyone and everything.)
You can also fill up the web, or try, simply re-posting and regurgitating those facts in one form or another. Take a look at some of the coverage of Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report from a week or so ago. Hundreds, if not thousands, of press and bloggers embedded her deck or linked to her talk.
The real question is what you’re supposed to do with all of this information, from Forrester, from Pew Research, from Mary Meeker. Sure you can put it all into a deck with your logo on the front and present it to clients. But I’m not sure that will get you very far. At least not in the long term.
It’s not about knowing that mobile is soon to be the dominant digital and social platform, it’s knowing what to do about it. I can’t claim to be an expert, but here’s what I’m thinking you should be doing.
Make mobile your new focus
You may have been late to the Internet revolution (hopefully you’re still around to take advantage of this one) and perhaps even slow to realize the potential of social. Don’t blow this one. It may be too late to be early, but it’s still early enough not to be late. What, you’re thinking mobile should be the domain of the media department? Or maybe the developers? Think again, everyone will need to be and do mobile before next year is out.
Get smart about behavior not technology
Since I’m not a developer I always start with the consumer rather than the technology. Think about social media. What was more important, the platforms or what consumers did with them? The same is likely to hold true for mobile. How and when will people search from their devices? Will they access a retailer’s site when they’re looking for directions, or when they’re in the store? How about a museum? Will a user want hours and exhibit dates before visiting the museum? Or is she interested in the backstory of an artwork when she’s standing in front of it? Understanding how and when someone uses their device leads to better mobile functionality.
Think utility over advertising
A few months ago, Jeremiah Owyang shared a mobile strategy deck. The mobile world changes pretty fast, but Jeremiah’s content remains relevant, demonstrating how to bring utility to every point on the purchase funnel, from pre-sale awareness generation to post sale loyalty building. He includes examples from North Face’s snow report to AAA’s roadside assistance, making this overview a good starting point to think about all the ways you can apply similar thinking to your clients.
Remember that mobile isn’t always about on the go
Heineken’s Star Player is one good reminder. It’s an accompaniment to a user’s TV set. The app makes a soccer fan a participant in a any televised soccer match. It does everything right: it understands the user and context, connects him to others in a community, and puts a branded experience in his hands for 90 straight minutes. It may make it harder to slurp down a beer, but presumably if you use the app for that much time you can do it with one hand. If you’re not familiar with it, check it out.
Don’t forget to think beyond apps
Yes we’re all programmed as users to download and use them. But as mobile search begins to rival that of desktop – it has a ways to go but is growing fast – you’ll want to be in the business of developing mobile optimized sites. And if you start developing them using responsive design, you’ll deliver a branded experience to the all of the plethora devices that make standardized apps a never-ending challenge. Furthermore your online advertising will be more effective. Most Google ad buys (full disclosure, they’re a client) include mobile, but if you’re delivering ads that link a user to a non-optimized site you’re wasting money, or at least diminishing effectiveness.
Take a look at this search I conducted to make the point. On a smartphone I searched men’s shoes. (In real life I’d just go to Zappos, but for the purpose of this exercise I used Google search.) Two paid results came up. Whose site would you use?
Remember to sell stuff and make paying easy
Apps and gaming are easily embraced, but the real future of mobile is commerce. Pay Pal will do $3.5 billion in transactions from mobile devices before the year is out. And that’s a conservative estimate. Heavy mobile users actually prefer to shop from their mobile devices versus a laptop. So make sure your commerce site is not only optimized for mobile but offers a fast and easy way to search product categories, find what you want and enter payment information. Oh, and let us not forget mobile payment. We may have taken a long time getting there compared to some other countries, but it’s here. Learn how to leverage it.
Include mobile thinking on every assignment
There’s a tendency whenever a new technology comes along to place it in a silo. Digital. Social. Mobile. But they’re not isolated media or experiences. These days everything is connected to everything else. And I’m not talking about QR codes on print ads. Take a look, for example, at this print ad optimized for mobile. The Zappos team at Mullen knows that people discover fashion in magazines. But you can’t really shop off a magazine. Unless, of course it interacts with your smartphone. In this case we developed an ad that lets you drag items of clothes into your phone, dress a digital shopper and then connect to Zappos to actually purchase your desired items.
Learn from the startups
One thing that ad agencies and clients have a tendency to do is to copy each other. I prefer to steal from more innovative companies, in this case startups who are inventing the stuff. We can learn a lot from Instagram – fun, sharing, user participation, community and the network effect. We can learn from Spotify – a perfect application of the freemium model and an experience made better by social sharing. We can learn from SCVNGR – gaming dynamics to influence.
Make it social
One interesting fact in Mary Meeker’s presentation is how much social media is now mobile. More people tweet from their smartphone than from any other kind of device. She also reminds us that the mega-trend of the 21st century is the “empowerment of people connected via mobile devices.” Hate to break the news, but in most cases, people want to connect to other like-minded or trusted friends via mobile more than they want to connect to your brand. So give them all the opportunity possible by creating a site experience and/or apps that not only allow but encourage people to connect with one another.
Do it to get it
Everyone who got into social media as a user got better at creating in the space. Ask Iain Tait, the brains behind Old Spice on Twitter. Or talk to the Brammo team at Crispin. Same is likely to hold true with mobile. So don’t leave it up to someone else. Play in the space. Get excited about responsive design. Think about all the ways a mobile site can be useful. Try all the new services. Check-in. Pay with Google. The more you use it the more you’ll get it.
Thoughts? Other things your agency is doing? Or your clients?
Related post: It’s time for web marketers to cater to mobile users.