How mobile phones are changing brand experience

Packed with great insights and early trend indicators, venture capitalist Mary Meeker’s annual internet report is out. At 197 slides it’s also a bit of a beast, so head over to Tech Crunch for a good 24-slide bite-sized version of it.

Here are a few insights that caught our eye:

1. Mobile has made us more compulsive

Gone are the days when we would sit down and use the internet for an hour or two; we’re spending more time online, but in smaller chunks. For brands to be useful, interesting or even noticeable in this world, it’s all about bite-sized content that integrates into a world where messaging apps dominate our online time.

2. User-generated content is growing

Whether it’s the 75 per cent y-o-y increase in Pinterest pin creation, the rise and rise of Instagram, or the fact that 65 per cent of Snapchat’s daily users are creating content – people are more able and more likely to create and share the things that inspire them.

3. That content is visual, not text

Now that we’re all carrying supercomputers in our pockets with powerful cameras and hard-to-use keyboards, it follows that we’d prefer to speak with pictures (or if we really have to, emojis).

4. We experience things in a portrait, not landscape

With the rise of mobile has come a switch from portrait to landscape orientation. This small switch is fundamental. Where the original ‘postbox’ screens were designed to fit our field of vision, portrait screens are designed to fit our hands. 

We now see screens as part of an active experience – to be taken with us into the world, acting as our record and as our way to bring our friends with us. The implications for brand experience are tremendously exciting.

5. What does this mean for brand experience?

At Imagination we’ve seen how these shifts have affected the way that people choose to experience brands.

Four years ago we designed experiences that could be experienced live and revisited online (on landscape, if you will) afterwards – digital souvenirs lived on websites and deck-based social media. In a landscape-screen world, the connection between a live experience and the online world was usually one directional and single focus – if you experienced the event live, you would be completely immersed, and then might return to it online when you were back home.

Today, mobile has become an intrinsic part of the experience. We have to embrace the fact that most visitors bring their own smartphone to the experience, and that they will use it within the experience – snapping, chatting, sharing, commenting and more.

6. Content creation and conversation

So these days, instead of creating souvenirs, we create opportunities for content creation – never-experienced-before moments, instagrammable experiences. 

And instead of broadcasting, we create opportunities for conversation – live communities united by hashtags and memes.

The result for brands is much higher engagement rates. Yes, we may fear that in this new world we are constantly fighting against short attention spans, but done right brand experience has become a powerful way to connect with consumers in ways that are meaningful to them – ways that inspire them to share their experience right at the moment of inspiration.

Tom Gray is strategy director at Imagination.

This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Imagination's insight blog.

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