@ Ad:Tech: Mobile Means ‘Authority Is Dead’ For Brands

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Only those beneath mighty comfortable rocks could have missed the transition toward mobile computing as a huge driver of online activity over the last couple of years. But it’s more than that, according to Tina Unterlaender, account director for AKQA Mobile; mobile apps and Web mean “authority is dead” for marketers, as attention shifts to the people.

Unterlaender kicked off Tuesday’s mobile track session at Ad:Tech in San Francisco by warning the marketers and advertisers in the audience at Moscone West that they need to face up to the reality that mobile devices have turned the public into brand ambassadors and detractors far more powerful than corporate messaging through the rise of rating apps like Yelp and reporting apps like Foursquare. “It is really important for businesses to pay attention to what people are saying about them,” she said, as the near-instant feedback delivered by mobile users can either buoy or sink a brand in an amazingly short period of time.

As a result, marketers will have to change the way they think about mobile to a more participatory campaign, rather than something that simply seeks to get the message in front of the mobile user. Unterlaender cited a potential future check-in at a sporting event through a Nike mobile application, which could direct users to Nike retailers in the vicinity selling related apparel or send deals to that user’s handset as a result of the check-in.

And developing technologies like mobile payments–one of the hottest evolving stories of 2011–could present new challenges and opportunities for retailers. Many stores now have self-service checkout lines, but imagine stores with checkouts by mobile payment that allow mobile users to pay cheaper prices than those standing in line with the cashier. The retailer can afford it because they are saving money on labor costs, and tracking those spending habits will give them better insight into the behavior of their customers.

Likewise, future generations may be dumbfounded by the notion that we once went to events and stood in line at some window labeled “will call,” just so we could pick up “paper tickets,” she said. Any product, service or marketing message catered at offline or desktop Internet users will have to be adapted for mobile users, because mobile presents “opportunities for brands to reach consumers on their terms. … (People) don’t listen anymore to brands.”

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