American Marketer


Mobile innovation is headed for consumer engagement

March 5, 2014

Rodney Williams is cofounder of LISNR


By Rodney Williams

Curved glass. Phones that measure physical activity. Wearable tech. Connected cars. I am all for the innovations that are making mobile technology a more integrated part of consumers’ lives.

The Consumer Electronics Show this January was actually deserving of all the hype. Because if there is one thing that we should have learned about mobile technology over the past few years it is that innovation only counts if it amplifies the consumer experience. That is why mobile marketing will see a huge jump in spending and new technology uptake from top-tier brands this year.

Facing the music
Innovation and consumer experience have finally met in the middle.

Innovation, however, is an ongoing process. It is not done because there is still plenty of room to improve the customer experience.

I see innovation continuing with mobile music. There is more to mobile music delivery right now than better headphone technology. There are opportunities for consumers to experience more individualized music choices.

I would also argue that consumers can use music to unlock more content choices across all media.

In fact, the marketing opportunities that are most exciting right now lie in mobile music. That is the innovation hot spot.

As I said, I am all in favor of tracking the amount of walking I did today. But I am not so sure it can be relevantly tied to a marketing message.

Let us check some stats.

According to eMarketer, 99 percent of all smartphone owners stream music. That is more than 80 million consumers. Spotify alone streamed 4.5 billion hours of music last year.

Now here is the problem and the opportunity. Only 6 percent of those surveyed found mobile ads to be useful. That does not mean mobile music advertising does not work. It means the ads lack relevance and engagement. Watch the industry work on that.

Pandora has announced car-specific audio ads as more music is integrated into autos, which will also be an area of increasing innovation and more opportunity for marketers.

Hip ticket
Many analysts have called this the age of context for mobile music. Agreed.

Inaudible signals, beacons and sonic frequency signals are only on the cusp of amplifiying – not hijacking – the consumer experience. Mobile devices will become more personal via music. The technology amplifies the experience.

This technology push is going to enable and unlock triggered content.

Mobile music consumers produce data through their choices and behavior. That data creates premium marketing opportunities to reach consumers with the right content and marketing messages at the right moment of engagement.

Brands from sports teams, music artists to consumer packaged goods giants will embrace the ability to serve content based on behavioral signals that can be customized. It will go further than typing text codes.

Current technology allows the guy watching the Super Bowl to get a ticket offer for the NFL Draft. The Jay-Z fan listening to his latest jam will get an offer for exclusive video. The Jay-Z fan at a concert can get an exclusive after-show offer while the concert is in progress. And the baseball fan drinking a beer on a hot summer day will get access to an exclusive brand-sponsored interview with the team’s MVP.

MOBILE TECHNOLOGY innovations increase consumer engagement with devices. Wearable tech has proven that.

It is time for mobile music technology to increase engagement with products and brands. It is already happening.

The consumer wave to watch is not tracking how many steps your consumers took today. The wave to watch is how much of your content with which they have interacted. We are just getting started.

Rodney Williams is cofounder of LISNR, Cincinnati, OH. Reach him at