The perfect storm is coming and you're not going to hear about it on the Weather Channel. It's a storm that started about three years ago with the iPhone and will likely end with the convergence of all things digital into a single, unified device. This future will be the result of the inevitable marriage of intuitive software and remarkably simple hardware. The mobile evolution has literally changed the way we view and communicate with our phones forever.
Location based services like Foursquare, Gowalla and SetCliq are driving the next stage of the mobile evolution and are consequently reforming mobile advertising. These location services are looking to make brick and mortar businesses relevant in a digital economy ruled by the likes of Amazon, an online company popularized for its' ability to sell and rapidly ship almost anything straight to customers' doors. Location services are also poised to serve as an additional avenue for branding initiatives. For example, startups such as CauseWorld are changing the way we give to our favorite charities by enticing users to visit their favorite stores creating a unique brand-awareness experience. Location based services may even change the way we search for employment. For instance, companies like DemandSpot are already exploring these new avenues by combining Twitter with location sharing, creating a new forum for users to virtually find anything, including their next job.
Remarkably, it's not industry that is driving the emergence of location sharing services; it's every-day users who are now dictating how they receive the message. It's going to be up to businesses, big and small, to be reactive to these changes and proactive and innovative in how they deliver that message.
There is no question. The mobile application has become the default medium for mobile advertising. As more and more users adopt the new class of smart-phones, they are, by default, embracing what has become its' biggest appeal: a large collection of very specialized applications performing very specific functions. It's these new applications that are providing the new model that advertisers perceive as the next logical step in their endeavors. In-app advertising has taken off in the last three years. With industry growth in mobile advertising expected to reach $1.2 billion by 2011, there is certainly enough incentive to keep mobile advertising at the forefront of development.
No longer is the mobile phone viewed as a mere utility - an extension of our home telephone. Instead, people are now seeing their mobile phone as a natural extension of the desktop computing experience they've become accustomed to. Email and a near desktop internet experience are as accessible to them as the pocket holding their mobile phone. With that accessibility comes a whole new world of expectations, not all of which translate into the mobile space as predicted.
In effect, the traditional advertising we've become accustomed to encountering in the desktop realm is lost in translation to the mobile space. Traditional advertising relies on channels of operation that are not only device inappropriate, but fall on blind eyes and deaf ears of users exploring their newfound freedom in accessing the web from their phone. Like the mobile phone, advertising has had to evolve, and quickly, in order to stay relevant by not only changing its' methods, but also exploring uncharted territory. Consider location sharing our next domain to explore.