Digital Essays 2014: Moving images – the native language of the mobile web

Mark Hamilton

Mark Hamilton says brands must produce ‘Thumb Stopping Creative’.

When it comes to marketing creativity, the future is mobile. The shift to mobile’s consumption is as significant a shift as we have experienced in over 60 years. Today, people have access to content across multiple channels, across several devices, and the patterns of consumption are constantly changing.

Global shipments of mobile phones surpassed desktop PCs since three years ago. Smartphone penetration in most of Europe’s major economies has reached 50 per cent. In fact, there are almost 7bn mobile phones in existence and if you laid them all out end to end, they would stretch around the earth 13 times.

As the most personal device, 79 per cent of people have a smartphone with them for all but two hours in the waking day. It is with people, all of the time, whether they are on the go or at home. Our phones have turned the living rooms into a personalised digital experience.

Mobility provides people greater connectivity to all of the people and the things that matter the most. And because of this increased connectivity people are also increasingly selective about the experience and the content they consume. People want information from friends and the brands they trust, but the content has to be personalised, relevant and useful.

However this is not a 21st century phenomenon. In fact, flashback 50 years ago to the local shop owner who knew the customers that visited the store and could anticipate their needs. The experience was personalised. The information was relevant. And when people had a good experience they would share it with other people. In many ways it was the golden era of service and word of mouth was probably the most important form of marketing.

When mass media came along in the 1950s and 60s it brought more information and choice, and it helped to scale many of these businesses, though it changed the relationship people had with businesses. While mass media led to the birth of new brands it also created a different type of creativity and connection. Businesses and brands communicated information about products to people rather than communicating with people about new products or services.

Fast forward; technological advancements and innovation have brought us back to the importance of personal, relevant creativity via great storytelling. The mobile revolution is not just about technology; it’s primarily about people and individual creativity. Connectivity gives people freedom to be themselves – to create, chronicle, catalogue and share, when we want and where we want.

For years our creative partners worked from briefs that outlined a tightly defined, yet hypothetical target audience and creative geniuses developed campaigns for large mass audiences. And we have decades of wonderful campaigns and strong stories.

The shift from text to visual images to moving images now provides new ways for stories to be told. Video is a major transition in the way people create and communicate. Moving images are becoming the native language of the mobile web and realising the power of this kind of creativity is the key to reaching the connected consumer effectively.

Today all businesses and brands are in a unique position to harness the power of personalised marketing at a new type of scale. Today, businesses can once again connect with real people. In fact, mobility has unlocked the power of creativity. And the best part is that we can even accurately measure the impact. With so much waste and inefficiency in online advertising now, businesses now have the ability to get ads to the right people at the right time.

Brands must produce ‘Thumb Stopping Creative’. As people explore different forms of content, in different environments and move between apps, it is important to consider what creative is going to look like in those first few seconds. In this new world of personal marketing at scale, where we truly understand who people are and what they want, we can develop solutions that answer real consumer needs. In turn, these solutions will drive business results that matter.

Connecting with people is about utilising the power of sight, sound, and motion. With more than 1.35bn people coming to Facebook and 1bn coming on mobile every month, we are part of this mobile revolution. Businesses can deliver meaningful content into the palm of people’s hands, on the most connected platform the world has ever experienced. People’s relationship with the mobile screen and with Facebook has personalised business again.

(Mark Hamilton is head of business marketing – Central Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, Facebook)