Scott Curtis, European mobile strategy & development director at Publicis Media, shares his top predictions for the coming year.
The mobile phone is arguably the most important device that humanity has ever had access to. It’s our gateway to the digital world and has quickened the pace of democratised information. It blurs our perception of reality. It is a magic wand to activate our devices, and our own personal assistant. The smartphone has left many other items, like music players and calendars, redundant. Our wallets, keys, and even computers are probably next in line on the hit list.
Looking to the immediate mobile trends for 2017, though, you should expect to see the following:
Mobile will reduce the time spent with brands.
It was a previously held marketing truth that brands should maximise the time that their prospects and customers should be spending with them. But today we live in a world where time is increasingly the most precious resource we have. In cities, footsteps are quicker. We will abandon sites that take more than three seconds to load. The average human attention span (eight seconds) is now less than that of a goldfish (nine seconds).
Digital technology is changing our psychology rapidly. No longer are we content to wait for a branded story to unfold if it is standing between us and our chosen content. And for a nation of supposedly expert queuers, we Brits don’t want to stand in line. Supermarkets that offer shoppers the ability to scan their cheese on mobile and leave the store in minutes rather than heading to the checkout are going to be the stores that will win in the time economy. Shops that use beacons or NFC to provide product information, without waiting for a sales person that we may not want speak to anyway, will gain our love. And brands that allow us to ask questions to a chatbot without needing to sift through menus of options will be the ones that we will come back to.
Mobile moves to a zero-interface OS
This may seem a little counter-intuitive, given that mobiles traditionally need an operating system to work, but the tide is turning. We are heading to a world where operating systems don’t require an interface. This is down to the strides taken in speech recognition in 2016 and the smart products built on these systems, like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Voice command is speedier than tapping out words. But more than convenience, the personal touch that the power of the voice has justifies the high cost for this technology. (It’s probably worth noting that Alexa has apparently had over 250,000 marriage proposals.)
2017 will see much more functionality added to home systems like Alexa and Google Home and this will drive mass adoption. Next year should also see Google’s assistant enter the mainstream outside of the Pixel phone. Being an upgrade on Google Now and ‘OK Google,’ it will pull in users’ data, location and preferences to tailor suggestions helping them to navigate the world around them. We are beginning to outsource our thinking to the machines.
Mobile will mix up our reality
Augmented and Virtual Reality have long been on the hype cycle, with multiple VR systems being released to the masses in 2016: the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR and finally PlayStation VR. To date, while VR has been a success in its ability to transport users to another world, it very much remains a novelty. Most content feels like a demo, lasting only a few minutes or lacking real depth.
2017 will change this. Developers are beginning to understand what makes a good virtual experience and will convince brands to start to plug more money into developing rich and immersive content. Vive is releasing a peripheral that makes the headsets wireless, Oculus is launching touch controllers to combat the Playstation’s gaming ecosystem and to allow users to interact with what they are seeing.
Augmented Reality, meanwhile, can transfer any surface, any packaging, into a storytelling platform. This will impact the whole customer journey, from showing people what purchases could look like in their homes, through to extending the conversation brands have with customers post purchase. The world post-Pokémon Go will never be the same again. Whilst VR has the ability to transport us to new spaces, AR transforms our everyday reality creating unique opportunities for brands to play in.
Scott Curtis is European mobile strategy & development director at Publicis Media