Game of Phones

How Phones have evolved with Marketing…
Mise en scène; Imagine you are in town waiting for a bus. It’s evening time, so of course the bus stop is packed out with dreary commuters trying to return home. There are a vast number of differences between each of them, for example, attire career, salary, home, family etc. But the majority of the time, they do share a common trait. They are preoccupied. Sure they may glance up occasionally to check how long they will be idle for, but the majority of the time they will be on their mobile phone or tablet.

There is no doubt mobile phones have revolutionised the fabric of our society, for the better, right? Surely the main purpose of the mobile phone is to help individuals and better society? (Insert iRobot reference) Perhaps not, especially in the eyes of the older generation. This post is essentially delving down into how and why society has become addicted to looking down. Are phones the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing as Tenner (1997) believed, And how are businesses cashing in on this?


Cold Turkey

A female friend of mine one explained that if she is apart from her phone or if (god forbid) the battery dies, she becomes anxious and nervous. I never did psychology, but I believe there is a deeper meaning to that, think of that what you will. In any case, I think this scenario perfectly reflects how we have become as a collective, not just to single out my friend. I am sure others share similar anxieties or worries as she does. So collectively have we become so reliant (Baron, 2011), dare I say it obsessed with our mobile phones?

A study by Deloitte (2015) found more than a third of us check our handsets between 25 and 50 times a day, while 16% of individuals do it more than 50 times from morning until night.  Astonishingly the UK collectively pick up their devices 1.1 billion times every day.



Figure 1. Phone usage, how many times respondents checked their phone



Elsewhere, Deloitte (2015) found 76% of UK adults now have a smartphone (a 6% increase on last year) and over 32 million smartphones are bought in the UK every year, with a further six million are handed down. (It sucks to be a younger brother or sister basically).

phonehanddownOne of the most surprising facts was that globally by 2018, one third of the population is predicted to have a mobile phone (The, Telegraph, 2015). Just because there are nearly as many cell phones as there are humans does not mean that everyone has a mobile phone, just the majority. Nowadays Internet access is at an all time high, regardless of location.Which has allowed the majority of UK consumers use their smartphones ‘at every opportunity’, with two-thirds of owners using their devices on public transport, 60% at work and almost half while meeting a friend.

Phone usage

The root of all evil
Lee (2015) stated “the touchscreen-based smartphone is less than a decade old but it is more intertwined with our lives than ever”. Where has this emanated from?

Society and cultural norms have forced us to become like this, like my friend, essentially reliant, as well as addicted to our mobile phones. They offer users substantial freedom to communicate on their own terms (eg. place and time). Yet on the reverse side of the Faustian bargain, people find themselves being bombarded with spam adverts, questioning identity security and other negative issues associated.

Arthur (2014) reported smartphone users spend approximately 80% of their time using applications. Consequently, the ability to advertise via apps has risen since its provenance. There has been a significant increase in the amount of in-app advertising and push notifications. The ability to offer special deals, order confirmations, loyalty point’s statements, as well as many other real time communications is unrivaled as people depend and expect so much from their phones. Many other forms of mobile marketing require customers to initiate contact, however, push notifications or in-app advertising do not.

Technological enhancements allow us to demand and achieve more and more from our phones. Which of course businesses have become wise to, now ordering taxis (Uber) browsing catalogues (ASOS) and paying for goods (Barclays) have not only become possible, but also extremely easy.

Of course this is excellent news for businesses and marketers, but maybe not so good for the individuals bank balance as the report confirmed ‘neither the wallet nor purse is doomed’, but both are likely to become ‘increasingly marginal’. The same study revealed one in 10 adults have made a mobile payment in-store, 40% make mobile purchases with their phone and 59% have browsed retailers’ sites on their phone.



So, what types of mobile marketing are being implemented by these innovative new age brands?

SMS Marketing
Although it maybe the oldest method featured, SMS marketing is still widely accepted and used by businesses. Why is that? Well, on average, it takes approx. 2-3 days for an email to be opened, when roughly 95% of texts are opened within 3 minutes, which reflects how effective it can be. A two way process is required by businesses to engage customers, allowing customers to respond is the seconf part of the process. Olenski (2013) disproved the previous stereotypes associated in an article on Forbes.



Immediate Response: The meaning behind the ‘Removed’ article is to highlight how reliant we are. Companies can now instantaneously deliver a marketing message to their selected demographic. Eg. Dominos, whom can gain real time feedback, via CTR on a link or even receiving ‘opt out’ texts, which inform them, the customer is no longer interested. Additionally it is more personal.
The video below both outlines and simplies the process of SMS marketing.


Responsive Mobile Marketing:
In the early stages of smartphone integration, few businesses had realized mobile optimization was the future. Fast forward to the modern day, businesses that have not adapted their webpage or layout to accommodate for the different transfer mediums of consumers face a real challenge competing with those that do. Additionally, new innovative strategies are continually being developed and implemented. Eg. QR Code campaigns essentially act as a different and interactive way to entice and excite consumers to interact with the brand.  See previous blog post to learn more about QR!

Benefits of Mobile Marketing:

Right now: As modern day individuals are somewhat predictable, the majority of the time they will be found with their mobile phone on themselves. Businesses know this f course, and so are able to leverage this knowledge to target consumers. Using this efficient method of marketing can make the results almost instantaneous.


Easy Peasy: Mobile content is often easier to develop for supporting platfroms. Compared with other marketing techniques, it is both simpler and more cost effective. Moreover, users can keep the virtual information with them and use it whenever they need it if necessary eg. Click and Collect emails from Tesco.

Convient to use: On the one hand the screen size of mobile phones maybe seen as a limitation. However, this means content can be kept basic and simple. KISS! (Keep it simple stupid). Often, this makes content more transferable between various mobile platforms, again appealing to businesses that may which to extend the advertisement to other mediums or consumers with altering requirements and as an added bonus is appealing to consumers as it should cater for them.

It’s Getting Personal:
Mobile marketing is of course far more personal than other than other methods of marketing, Eg. Email marketing. Emails come in thick and fast from a variety of sources, and can sometimes be mistaken for spam resulting in there immediate deletion.


These developments have resulted in businesses continually under pressure to reach and interact with their target market on a personal level. Marketing Guru (Keller, 2002) reported this as Brand Resonance the final level in the buyer seller relationship, in which the buyer feels connected to brand personally.

Disadvantages of Mobile

Standardization is an issue:
Mobile phones come in many different shapes and sizes and perhaps most importantly, software is never consistent. From Apple’s iOS to Android and Windows operating systems to web browsers on mobiles, uniformity is a touch subject, which may cause problems when developing campaigns and advertisements to please all. Eg. Eisernberg (2012) highlighted a specific Netflix advertisement that lacked consistence due to changing display needs.



Not So Private: The difference between mobile marketing and invading consumer’s privacy is close in proximity. Campaigns such Dominos, which use SMS Marketing can be seen as an annoyance and invasion of privacy. Therefore, marketers must understand and respect that consumer’s need privacy online and should only engage in promotional activities with user’s that have given permission. (Usually why there is an opt out option).


Credit to Priya Viswanathan webpage ‘Pros and Cons of Mobile Marketing’

Below Examples of Mobile Marketing Campaigns

In app-push notifcations: Groupon
Although not so accuarate this timem this humerous screen shows that Groupon use push notifactions to entice consuemrs based on past transactions. They have also created one of the most popular Loyalty schemes for consumers, which cosistently remind them of new deals they may be intersted in.



SMS marketing: Dominos 
Dominos is one fasted rising brands, not alone in the UK but worldwide now.  But why use SMS marketing? Quite simply, because it works! It’s an easy and efficient way for companies, regardless of size to drive on-going tangible results. EZ Texting (2011) case study reveals how a small Dominos franchise was able to leverage SMS marekting and utilise it to increase business substantialy.



QR Codes: Google
Those innovative geniuses over at Google launched the first NFC & QR code strategy in Austrialia. The ground-breaking campaign for the Google Play Store allowed travellers at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane domestic airports to use their mobile device as a remote control to interact with one of 39 digital advertising panels featuring Google Play content.

Unquestionably, Mobile marketing has come a long way since it was first introduced with SMS’s creation. Nowadays, mobile marketing has become imperative to the vast majority of businesses in order to quickly and efficiently engage with their consumers. In my opinion, employing a mobile marketing campaign is one of the best methods of marketing and the pros highlighted above speak for themselves. However businesses must ensure that the there is a level of compatability between the mobile and other forms of media eg. Netflix’s inconsistent landing page was hindered by the mobile platform rather than helping, morover that it fits the businesses style and structure.

While it can be potentially expensive, on average it will be cheaper than regular promotional activities such as radio and television advertisements etc. Furthermore, it is very personal and can potentially increase a business’s marketing scope. In the last decade, mobile marketing has developed significantly and with continual technological enhancements, its future looks bright, but it maybe negatively affecting consumers more than society thinks.



Arthur, C. (2014). Apps more popular than the mobile web, data shows. Available: [Accessed 20 April 2015]
Baron, N. (2011). Concerns about mobile phones: A cross-national study. First Monday, 16(8). doi:10.5210/fm.v16i8.3335

Deloitte, 2015) Mobile Consumer 2015 – The Mobile Cut [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 03 February 2016].

DeNicola, M (2015). Photographer Removes Phones From His Images To Show How Addicted We’ve Become

Eisenberg, B (2012) Landing Page Continuity – Netflix [ONLINE] Last accessed February 16th 2016

The Telegraph, (2016) Stop relying on your smartphone to think for you, scientists say. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 03 February 2016].

Woollaston, V. (2015) Almost 50% of people check their mobile phone at least 50 times a day | Daily Mail Online. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 03 February 2016].

EZ Texting (2011) Dominos Success Story [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 03 February 2016].

9 thoughts on “Game of Phones

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