Going to a talk on mobile interaction in 2014 feels a little like being a teenager going to a talk about sex. Everybody’s talking about it...

Developing Mobile Interactions: Digital’s exciting new battleground


Going to a talk on mobile interaction in 2014 feels a little like being a teenager going to a talk about sex. Everybody’s talking about it, you know the cool kids are doing it, but you're pretty sure most people aren't doing it well.

Luckily, we were in safe hands with three talks: by Priya and Julia of The Mobile Academy, Ryan and Peter from The Nice Agency, as well as pioneering web guru David Galbraith.

As David put it, mobile is the most important thing to happen to the web in his twenty year career as a digital innovator. And the stats don't lie. Year on year more and more people are using their mobile phones and tablets to interact with brands. 'Mobile first' isn't a buzzword, it's a survival strategy.

But it'd be wrong to describe mobile as a completely disruptive technology. We're still using our desktops during the day, we're still watching TV. Instead, brand stories are being told across more and more channels -- mobile included.

According to Priya and Julia, the secret to producing good mobile experiences is to follow what people are already doing: 'we're not in the business of creating technology, we're creating culture'. If this sounds difficult, don't despair: 'you learn the most from failure,' but you can succeed by creating genuine emotional connections.

The way to do that, according to Ryan and Peter from The Nice Agency is to 'use big data to create a personalised experience' -- we know more and more about our customers, so there's no excuse for not providing them with an experience that's tailored to their needs.

'Ask yourself -- what is the benefit of this mobile content?' they say, echoing Priya and Julia’s sentiment that we need to 'make less crap'. Did you know that 65% of apps aren't used at all three months after they've been downloaded?

In Ryan and Peter's experience, a big problem is the failure of brands to look at retention and engagement side by side. 'Don't let your brand get in the way of the experience,' they advise. The message from all the speakers is starting to become clear -- provide mobile services that are useful to your customer, both immediately and in an ongoing way.

'Apps are the most direct form of marketing right now,' we're told -- people are giving you their permission to talk to them. It's a fantastic opportunity to create an ongoing relationship with your clients and shouldn't be wasted by talking 'at' them -- instead, provide them with benefits and they'll keep coming back.

David Galbraith's talk was a little bit different, as you might expect from somebody with over twenty years' experience working with startups and tech companies. His eye was firmly on the future and the coming battle for control over the means of distribution of media in a mobile age. Facebook and Google dominate, but the real battle will be over net neutrality, with the carriers.

He gave us one startling example -- Lady Gaga's bandwidth bill for streaming media would be $10.5 trillion if charged at the same rate as SMS messages. As the carriers struggle to regain control of media distribution, he predicts 'the big holding companies' like WPP will need to secure their own means of distributing media in order to remain competitive. Powerful food for thought.

In conclusion, common sense should prevail when creating mobile interaction. Provide what the consumer wants, create awesome experiences, and be prepared for enormous shifts in the way we consume media -- and advertising -- in the next few years. It seems the mobile revolution is just getting started.

By Alastaire Allday @alldaycreative 

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