What 2014 Holds For Mobile Marketing: 5 Predictions

It’s that time again. That’s right, I’m talking about 2014 mobile marketing prediction time. A few weeks ago, I asked some of my smart friends in the mobile/location-based marketing space for their 2014 predictions. As promised, in this month’s column, I am delivering a few of my own.

2014 mobile predictions

If you want to look at last year’s predictions, you can keep me honest (and see some of the stats for the space). To that end, I’m kicking off this post with additional current stats to set context around my 2014 predictions.

Key Mobile/Social Statistics

  • Global mobile subscriptions: 6,587.4 million (Informa, 6/13)
  • 1,492 billion global smartphone subscribers, which is 21% penetration of total mobile subscribers; in the U.S., penetration is 58% (Mary Meeker, KPCB 5/12)
  • Mobile traffic as a percentage of global Internet traffic is projected to hit 25% by December of 2014. Note, this is HUGE! (Mary Meeker, KPCB 5/12)
  • 21.8% of total Black Friday 2013 online sales were via mobile — tablets accounting for 14.4% and smartphones 7.2% of the online sales respectively — (TechCrunch, 11/13)


As a quick recap from last year, the five predictions that I put out there were as follows:

  • Apple Passbook Dominates As Mobile Commerce/Location-Aware Platform
  • Facebook’s Mobile Functionality — Nearby, For Starters — Continues To Grow In Importance
  • Mobile Analytics/Measurement Gets A Seat At The Adult Table
  • Location-Based Applications Become Passive/Always On/More Aware
  • Hyper-Local Location Technology — Geofencing And Low-Energy Bluetooth Become Big With Retailers

A year later, three and a half of these feel like they are spot on. Apple’s Passbook has become a major player in the mobile commerce space. Just a little over a year after its launch, Passbook is the fourth most popular mobile commerce app in the U.S. (eBay, Amazon, and Groupon are ahead of it) and 20% of iPhone users leverage Passbook to download coupons, tickets to events, loyalty cards, and boarding passes. It still has a ways to go before it unseats the major players ahead of it, but it has gained a lot of ground quickly.

The prediction around Facebook was half right — Nearby hasn’t taken off like I thought it would, but mobile has been just what the doctor ordered in terms of usage for the social networking giant. We do know that mobile analytics have increased in importance and that location-based apps continue to become more passive. And to that end, my one miss (although I am equally bullish about this in 2014) was hyper-local technology taking hold with retailers. Apparently they just weren’t ready to make that leap.

That was then, this is now — so for my 2014 predictions (drum roll please), here’s what I see in my crystal ball:

1. Wearables As Part Of The “Internet Of Things” Become Mainstream And Generate More Data Than Marketers Can Handle

The key here is that more and more of us are starting to wear Fitbits, Fuel Bands, Jawbone UPs, etc., and before the end of this year, there will be less expensive/more practical versions of Google Glass. I also see second generations of Pebbles and Galaxy Gear making a splash in the market, with Apple taking its time to come out with a beautifully crafted competitor that rules them all. I won’t even start to get into the movement of the impact that mobile technology has on the automotive industry (that’s probably a post for after the 2014 Consumer Electronic Show), but that will also significantly drive this trend.

The main reason this trend is important has little to do with the devices themselves and everything to do with the amount of data created by the devices. Because they are “always on,” continuously by our side (even more so than smartphones) and are often measuring our life signs, the rich data these devices create is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.

Now, we (and thus, smart marketers) have unprecedented access to how much we sleep, how far we walk, our heartbeats, our stress levels, where we’ve gone, and thus, where we might go. If you think about the power of combining this with other CRM data we have on customers, the possibilities are endless.

2. Instagram Becomes The Hottest Social Network For Brands

This prediction may not be that surprising given the fact that Instagram has over 150 million active users and has been the de facto social network of choice for the under-18 crowd. As CEO of Momentfeed, Rob Reed, predicted in my mobile predictions post, “Instagram is no longer optional… Instagram provides the most compelling visual medium for communicating brand messages and engaging with loyal customers.” North of two thirds of the top 100 brands are on Instagram, and with its new ad platform, marketers now have even more ways to connect with their target audiences.

There are two critical drivers behind the Instagram prediction. The first is the fact that tweens and younger millennials are not embracing Facebook (or Twitter) like older generations. As a result, brands wanting to reach younger audiences, or younger potential hires, need to find a way to connect because e-mail and phone are less viable options. The second is that, with 65% of people being visual learners, social sites that focus on photo and short video sharing are going to win in the long run. Ekaterina Walter, author of Think Like Zuck, provides five examples of brands that are doing Instagram well here.

3. Mobile Drives A New Services Ecosystem

With the advent of smartphones and their ability to geo-locate and send/receive data from anywhere at any time, a whole new series of service offerings has been born. Jeremiah Owyang, founder of Altimeter group and current “Chief Catalyst” at Crowd Companies, is building a business around this very space. As he states in my mobile expert predictions post from December:

“In many cities, we can now hail a town car or a driver using UberLyft or other technologies. Soon, we can have our favorite food delivered to us, key clothes in our size, or find an office space we can quickly work at — in a frictionless manner.”

While this prediction helps less with marketing, it certainly gives marketers and companies the ability to add extensibility to their products and services. Where it does help is through the creation of additional data and the ability to have more regular and ongoing conversations with customers. To learn more about how these types of services will take off in the future, you should check out Jeremiah’s Le Web presentation on Slideshare.

4. Mobile Computing Replaces Home Computing As The “Go-to” Platform For Users,  Thus Changing The Way Information Is Presented

This is a fairly profound transformation that has already started to take hold. Anyone that sits back for 10 seconds will nod their head as they realize that increasingly, we are reading articles on our tablets, checking our social networks on our phones, catching up on e-mail on both, etc.

Decreasingly, we are heading to a physical place in our house to do our computing, and if we do, it’s at a laptop versus a desktop. Even that is evolving as a new wave of devices called 2 in 1s – half laptop, half tablet — which will encourage us to add the keyboard only when we are creating documents (PPT/Excel/Word) versus reading or doing light updating/responding.

The reason this transformation matters is multifold, but the reason I bring it up here as a prediction and something that marketers need to be aware of is that it has a profound impact on how we design digital content going forward. Gone are the days of one size fits all websites, PDFs or white papers, etc. Here are the days of responsive design, parallax effects and “snackable” content that is now friendly to three screens (phone, tablet and laptop) and likely four (television) in the near future.

For companies creating new websites or updating their existing content for the social web, this trend is less troublesome. For companies — particularly those with thousands of product pages and ecommerce capabilities — the task can seem daunting as it completely changes the way digital needs to be created.

Note: There are skeptics (smart ones) that are wary of responsive design’s negative impact on SEO, so before you jump off the deep end, it’s worth exploring what that means for you and your company first.

5. Hyper-Local Location Technology — Geofencing And Bluetooth Low-Energy Become Big With Retailers

Yes, I am recycling last year’s prediction for this year “as is.” To be honest, I am even more bullish this year that this prediction will become a reality for a couple of reasons.

First and foremost, the technology needed to enable hyper-location and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) have become less expensive and more available. Asif Khan, President of the Location-Based Marketing Association, talks about this in my mobile expert predictions post stating, “Indoor positioning has been hot for a while, but new methods of tracking consumers via BLE and magnetic fields from companies like Indoor Atlas and iInside make this something retailers are investing heavily in.”

Second, as I wrote about earlier this year in 3 Key iOS Features Marketers Should Care About, Apple’s commitment to iBeacon in their latest mobile iOS7 is not insignificant. Having hundreds of millions of iOS devices that come pre-wired to communicate with low-energy bluetooth technology makes it that much easier for app developers to leverage this technology.

With the adoption of these new capabilities, retailers can do a better job at locating and helping customers in need, match the right offer with the right customer (including the avoidance of giving extreme coupon-ers any kind of discount), and last but not least, they can push the right content or action directly to the customer. As retailers struggle with “what’s next” and razor-thin margins, advances like this that help them better target and deepen loyalty will be welcome additions to their marketing arsenals in 2014.


Now that mobile has grown up and become the true disruptive force that many of us thought it would ten years ago, it’s hard not to see its fingerprint on anything and everything that we marketers touch. From data to content, context to loyalty, these devices that we allow to be connected to us at most — if not all — times are changing the game daily.

While 2014 will be another big year for mobile, I think by 2015, there is a good chance that mobile becomes more like electricity… it will just be “there.” Until then, we’ll wait and see how the five predictions above unfold.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Apple: iOS | Apple: iPad | Channel: Mobile Marketing | Content Marketing | Facebook: Mobile | Foursquare | Google: Android | Google: Mobile | Microsoft: Mobile | Mobile Marketing Column | Twitter: Mobile


About The Author: is Managing Director at W2O Group, where he co-leads marketing and is the head of the newly formed Social Commerce practice. Aaron assists clients with mobile and location-based marketing campaigns and strategy. He is also the co-author of Location-Based Marketing for Dummies (wiley) and an avid blogger, podcaster and speaker. Earlier in his career Aaron spent time as head of marketing and social media at Mzinga and Powered/Dachis Group. Before heading off into the startup/agency world, Aaron worked at Fidelity Investments for 9 years in a variety of digital marketing roles.

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  • http://www.twitter.com/johnstack John Stack

    Aaron, in most respects, you’re spot on! It is interesting to note your previous projection about Passbook. I think it was simply too much for devs and brands to take on. As a result, Instagram as well as other tools might be an easier lift for them.

    Wearables is just about mainstream as evidenced by all of the new products released at CES2014. I think most are missing something though – and that is working as a platform. Most of the newer wearables are too specialized.

    W/rt to mobile as the platform, yep. If you don’t have a responsive site or one in the works, you’re in trouble. Lots of testing is required to determine an order of battle. To me, this is a brand’s biggest challenge in making the leap to responsive.

    Organizations are going to have to work hard to understand and leverage location aware technologies within their stores. There aren’t many winning examples out there yet and early to market companies without a large platform haven’t done so well (in fact, there are a few examples of companies that have failed in this regard.) Both Apple and Android need to promote some excellent examples and soon. Personally, I think the biggest opportunity comes in the checkout aisle, followed by surprise or flash deals that encourage consumers to walk through the entire store.

    Just a random thought that might be interesting to see is a wearable that is issued to customers by brands as soon as they walk in the store. Now, that’s something I’d love to see!!! Can you imagine “Put this on and download our app for the best deals!” Keep the wearable when you leave and you can use it for this cool thing…

  • aaronstrout

    John – thanks for your comment. Good points. And agree, wearables handed to customer “in store” would be an interesting concept. Will have to keep an eye on that.

  • http://weborm.com/ George Iovchev

    As interested in the web marketing and advertising, classic SEO/SEM, I shouldn’t close my eyes in front of the rising mobile computing anymore!

  • http://www.readz.com/ Bart De Pelsmaeker

    Hey Aaron – so spot on. I bet you will get 5 out of 5 this year!
    I especially like this one: “Gone are the days of one size fits all websites, PDFs or white papers, etc. Here are the days of responsive design, parallax effects
    and “snackable” content that is now friendly to three screens (phone,
    tablet and laptop) and likely four (television) in the near future.”
    Of course, right? Coz that is exactly what we do at Readz : we make deep content like mags, brochures, annual reports, white papers responsive.

  • http://thepakistantv.blogspot.com/ naheem sultan

    this is a brand’s biggest challenge in making the leap to responsive.

    Aapas Ki Baat Geo News Aapas Ki Baat

  • http://www.LeadDiscovery.com/ Jerry Nordstrom

    There is an off chance that a big trend will be the rise of personal privacy concerns or perhaps a full on consumer revolt over personal data privacy/ownership. At what point does the average consumer realize they have a digital identity that impacts their lives in significant ways, yet they have no access to nor control over their own data that makes up that identity? That they have carelessly given it up to third parties for free this or that?

    The general public is murmuring about things they vaguely experience like re-targeting, geo aware apps and some sharing concerns on Facebook.. this is but a pittance compared to a fully “all connected things” world we are quickly approaching. If control over personal data is not addressed, eventually the consumer will connect the dots and we could see a serious backlash.

    Will they be burning their iPads and crushing their Google Glass’? NO WAY, but there will be watershed moment when winners and losers in the digital world will be quickly decided. NSA? Big Data influencing elections? Turned down for a Job, or loan due to social data? Who knows what the trigger point will be.

    Savvy businesses and politicians would be wise to get in front of this issue now and be the ones the public shifts to when they wake up and realize they have been acting like digital sheep.

    Digital Data Independence will be an emerging trend in 2014.


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