Mobile Marketing: Still About Telling Stories

I love this recent opinion piece in AdAge, written by  Keith Reinhard of DDB.

There is a profound divide between creating a buzz and creating a brand. There's an important difference between a one-off stunt and an enduring brand story. There's a difference between an algorithm and an insight into human nature and between mere contact and true connection. Finally, there's a wide gulf between big data and a big idea.

Some might be surprised to find someone who works in marketing tech agreeing with these sentiments. After all, doesn't 'marketing automation' run contrary to this narrative? The answer, you are probably completely unsurprised to hear, is "no". But more interesting (perhaps) is the explanation why.

Let's make a few obvious points first. The potential of mobile is entirely bound up in the unique relationship consumers have developed with these devices. They are always on and always with us. We check them upwards of 100 times a day, and sleep with them in arm's reach. We check in when we wake up and when we go to bed. All of which makes them the true channel by which to create, in Reinhard's words "mere contact and true connection."

If you doubt that, compare them with television, a medium that advertisers love and yet one that struggles to ever get beyond a single, isolated experience - no matter how impressive. So mobile, and the mobile ecosystem, gives marketers an opportunity to truly build relationships with users. It's right there. We can both read their 'digital body language' and respond in smart, innovative ways that make our brand a part of that person's life.

But the digital marketing landscape brings dangers. The first is that in our quest to create '1-2-1' communication what we actually deliver is 'zero-2-1'. A super-computer on one end crunching vast numbers amounts of data and spitting out interactions, suggestions, recommendations and campaigns that bear no human imprint and feel inauthentic. In this category I would place Netflix's much vaunted recommendation engine: is it really the superficial aspects of a movie that are useful in terms of recommending another? I don't believe so, which is why for me that recommendation engine does not work.

The second is related. That in overwhelming the marketing landscape with technical toys, we've taken the discipline away from the marketer. Again, this is fundamentally misguided. As Reinhard correctly points out, marketing is about stories. The modern technologies at our disposal simply give us the means to make them more personal, relevant and timely than ever before.

At Swrve we're focused on ensuring that the platform we've created puts power in the hands of marketers - the story tellers. Sure, what we build gives the potential to create those conversations and 'true connections'. But as with any conversation, it's the person on the other end of it that counts. We work hard to make sure marketers are able to design, build, deliver and test their campaigns in Swrve - giving them the direct ability to build out those conversations and control the customer relationship.