Digitas MobileWho says big brands aren’t interested in taking advantage of mobile opportunities? 100 percent of Digitas clients are, and mobile practice leaders at the agency say they never would have guessed this magnitude of adoption eighteen months ago.

I had the opportunity to sit in on a session at the Digitas Boston office yesterday, where mobile practice leaders discussed consumer mobile trends and how the group talks about mobile with its big-brand clients.

Mobile practice leaders Chia Chen and Brett Leary led the session and made one thing clear: mobile is so attractive to their clients because brands matter more when they actively connect to peoples lives, right in the moment.

Chen, the head of Digitas’ North American mobile practice, began the session by discussing how he has witnessed mobile adoption by brands blossom over such a short period of time. He painted a picture of the state of the mobile ecosystem and contributing factors around why it is such a ripe opportunity. He started at the core, describing the shift in control from advertiser to consumer. Consumers now choose when, where and how to consume media, making mobile attributes like being real-time, on-demand and location-specific so powerful.

Tide Stain Brain app

Mobile enables brands to be involved in a moment and deliver value at that time — when there is a heightened need. “It changes the game,” Chen stated. Tide’s Stain Brain app, which offers cleaning tips among other community and co-creation features, was offered as an example. The app helps build brand equity for Tide because the detergent product is no longer just liquid in a bottle, it’s a cleaning resource and an experience.

Other factors making mobile such an attractive channel for brands is the way in which it can guide and transform the path from awareness to purchase. “It’s extending boundaries around how and where media is consumed and different ways to carry on the conversation,” Chia explained, pointing to how mobile is also incredibly social. Other contributing reasons include mobile’s ability to deliver customer data in real time now, rather than painting a basic profile of a customer based on past occurrences. And when it comes to global opportunities, Chia spoke to how in many regions the mobile Internet is often the only digital touch point.

Leary kicked off his consumer insights part of the discussion by offering that “Without data you will only have an opinion.” He went on to present some mobile consumer trend numbers from sources like Nielsen and comScore:

  • There are ~234 million wireless subscribers in the US
  • Smartphones will soon outpace feature phones in number
  • 39 percent of shoppers make brand decisions inside the store
  • 29 percent of shoppers buy things impulsively in store
  • Half of those who research online and then make purchases offline used their mobile device
  • Top mobile browsing activities include (1) communication and search and (2) news and info

Mobile brand leaders

Leary underscored the importance of understanding the type of devices a brand’s customers are using and how they’re using them. “What does a 30 year old mom with two kids do on her phone?” he asked. “It’s not what the phone does, it’s what the user does.”

Chia and Leary made clear that marketers have figured out that mobile is great for brand engagement. As for acquiring customers through mobile channels, they noted that while there’s still work to be done, making mobile payments a reality will unlock the full path to purchase.

They further advised that mobile campaigns are not a ‘build this and they will come’ type game, encouraging marketers to think holistically about driving viewers to the campaign and incorporating it across other marketing channels. “The focus should be ‘what’s the brand idea?’ and not ‘what’s the app idea?’” Chia said.

So what does Digitas believe a mobile campaign needs in order to succeed? According to their framework, data and experience with brands, it needs to be highly relevant to the person and moment, deliver instant value, and have an overarching creative idea that spans all marketing channels.

Many thanks to Digitas for a great session. Make sure you follow their thought leadership and big brand moves on Twitter. You can follow tweets around the event from the hashtag #mdtas.