TechCrunch posted a blog earlier this week titled The Future Of Mobile Advertising Is In Pull, Not Push. The subject was a TechCrunch Disrupt interview of Zaw Thet (4Info), Mihir Shah (Groupon) and John Hadl (Brand In Hand) by Jason Kincaid.
From an advertising standpoint the blog title has some validity. After all, who wants to be bombarded with text (or other push type) messages while driving by the local Mall of Generica – messages hitting your phone from the Gap, Lowes, Burger King, etc. as you head home from work? Most likely, the content isn’t going to be much more relevant than garden variety spam. So it makes sense, right?
Caution, clunky segue ahead…
Earlier this year a friend posed this question to me: What if mobile is not about search? What he was postulating is that when people are on-the-go they are more likely to be heading to a pre-planned destination rather than trying to find it while on the go. This also seems to make some sense. Mobile search traffic is growing at a tremendous rate, but so is mobile web traffic in general (see RWW’s take). But it’s still difficult to see any evolving trends to put this idea to the test yet.
Let’s put those traffic statistics aside for a minute and think about where business and consumer interests intersect in the mobile space. It’s pretty straightforward – consumers are interested in finding or purchasing things and businesses are interested in attracting consumers and selling their goods. Per the TechCrunch piece, some of the industry leaders believe the future of mobile advertising isn’t push. Does that mean we’re just going to extend and morph the current ad market into mobile, albeit with a much more local focus? I don’t think so. The online advertising medium cannot just be resized and slipped into the mobile environment. Mobile is an entirely different medium.
So to wrap all these thoughts together, I’m going to make a prediction. Businesses are now using mobile technology to tell their customers about specials, upcoming events and other pertinent information in a timely manner. This is one of the purposes advertising has previously been used for. Now for the prediction: Within the next year customers receiving mobile messages from their favorite businesses/organizations will be able to seamlessly share those updates with their existing social networks on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
At that point, because of the reach and power of online social networks, mobile local advertising becomes much less of a necessity to small retailers. There’s still amazing potential for brands, events and others trying to create awareness – which is the other purpose of advertising – but it is removed from the must-do list for SMBs.
So in summary, I think very soon it is entirely possible that a properly implemented mobile marketing solution could virtually eliminate the need for “advertising” for small retail businesses – the sustaining force behind traditional local advertising mediums. You heard it here first: push will beat pull.
John Epperson is a co-founder and President of Ruxter. Having worked in various fields across the technology spectrum in the last 20+ years, John has gained a broad understanding of technology. Together with the Ruxter team he has developed a web-based application that allows anyone to quickly and easily harness the power of the mobile internet. You can contact him here. Follow Ruxter on Twitter.