While in Austin, Texas at the just-completed South By Southwest, Brent Hieggelke, Chief Mobile Evangelist of leading mobile innovation company Urban Airship, snapped a photo of a striking image: three Austin police officers, leaning up against their squad car, all with their mobile phones in hand and their heads tilted downwards, eyes fixed on their screens. “Everyone has gone mobile,” Hieggelke said on a webinar hosted by [email protected]
Even those who perhaps shouldn’t be on their mobiles, well, are. This migration of a high percentage of social consciousness makes the mobile screen a place that brands absolutely need to be. But even within the mobile screen, some places are more desirable to be than others. Thus, the mobile lock screen has emerged as the most valuable real estate on the planet today. Danny Hakimian, Director of Marketing at Yo, also joined in the webinar to give his opinions on this new battleground for consumer attention.
Like many aspects of mobile marketing, the proper use of the lock screen and push notifications is still being figured out. Currently, the data shows that apps are the “king of mobile”; 87% of screen time is spent inside apps, according to Hieggelke. Brands view apps as their ultimate owned media, but the issue is that many apps have a very short shelf life on consumers’ phone.
Hieggelke said that 70% of customers defect from an app within 30 days of downloading it. However, push notifications have been shown to improve retention and engagement numbers. The lock screen is where a brand can grab the customer’s attention, and with one touch the customer is in the app and expanding their relationship with the brand.
Of course, push notifications can sometimes feel like spam email. The lock screen is such an intimate place that brands have to be sure to tread carefully. Hieggelke believes that brands leveraging push notifications have to concentrate on not being perceived as the next spam problem. Brands can do this by using push notifications as the voice of the brand’s app.
Like any voice, this voice needs to know when and where to speak, lest it become the madman in the square raving to nobody. Hieggelke said brands should learn about their customers based on what they do while in an app (did they click on the red shoes or the blue sandals?), and leverage that behavior and target it back to them. When the brand has found out how to provide relevant information in the push notification, they’ve provided the customer with value. And value is the key to avoid coming across as spam.
It’s obvious that Yo believes in the power of lock screen. Hakimian likened social platforms like Twtter and Facebook to being in a bar. They’re a place where a consumer chooses to go into, and if you’re a brand trying to reach people in the bar, you have to try very hard to stand out amongst the noise. The lock screen is much more intimate, a true on-to-one connection. “The push notification is like a digital living room,” Hakimian said. The consumer has allowed you into their home, into their personal space. So you don’t want to offend—or put your feet up on the furniture.
Echoing earlier sentiments, Hakimian noted that the best way to not offend is to provide relevance. However, the fundamental difference between Yo and push notifications that are coming from brand-owned, downloaded apps is that Yo has set itself up as the home base for opting in to push notification reception. Through Yo a user can subscribe to alerts from their favorite brands and content providers. This takes a good chunk of the push notification spam risk out of the game.
Of course, our screens are always evolving. The Apple Watch may be the next screen that is dominating consumers’ attention. If so, the same principles will likely hold true. The watch screen will be the place that a brand needs to be, but it will have to use that fleeting time and space to provide relevant, valuable content to the user.
And whether the attention migrates from the lock screen of the mobile phone to the home screen of the smart watch, brands will have to make sure that their push notifications fit into their core marketing offerings. The notifications still need to lead to actions. However, the messages of getting people to act may thus become less sales-y. With a finite space to deal with, brands will have to be as direct as possible…perhaps shunning some creativity along the way. Hieggelke referred to this development as the “Age of Un-Advertising”.
That’s one interesting shift for the advertising world.