Googarola and the mobile marketing supernova

Google’s US$12.5-billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility has set the digital community ablaze with a fresh crop of gripping hypotheses about its mobile end-game.

This is a characteristically mercenary effort to cement Android’s position in the handset ecosystem. While much can be said about how this affects the balance of patent power with competitors such as LG, Samsung and HTC, Google is taking the perception of its deep commitment to “defend” Android to the bank while quietly pushing for a higher and more definite standing in mobile marketing.

Having largely missed the new generation mobile zeitgeist and become locked in a struggle for survival, it’s been a while since Motorola itself qualified as a major player. Since we know that big mamma Google is not in the habit of making show-boat purchases, early adopters and mobile trend-setters the world over are trying to figure out just how far-reaching this new development is, how it will eventually dovetail Google’s offering and just what its next mobile move will be.

Whereas Facebook has made a palms-wide-open grab for the mobile high-ground, reeling in users and potential promotional prey by the metric tonne with its mobile number harvesting feature (which syncs your phone’s address book with your profile when you download its mobile app) Google’s flair for disguising intentions will see it gain extra poundage as a mobile marketing contender, with its very own new and apparently clean-handed attempt at mobile number list building.

There is a new notification redirecting from the login page when users try to access their Gmail:

“Hey, this is important: Add a phone to your account

Without a phone number, you could lose all access to your account if you
forget your password or if your account is hijacked.”

“Adding a phone number helps make your account much more secure.”

“Google will only use your number for account security. We’ll never share it with other companies or send you unwanted messages — ever.”

(Which is roughly on the same latitude as Facebook’s recent statement that it is not making mobile numbers public)

If successful, what this fear-fermenting pitch means is that the search giant will be conveying one of the largest opt-in mobile lists globally right into its own Rollodex. This, along with its existing data cloud of personal information on everyone including your great aunt, will reiterate and upgrade its status as a metrics constellation.

These days, a mobile number is the most personal, most traceable and most relevant numeric string that you’ll ever possess.

It doesn’t matter whether or not your phone is being used for direct marketing efforts because social and email, synchronised with mobile, creates a metrics generating trifecta, whereby all of a user’s online and communications activity can be tracked, measured and analysed. Integrated into a single body, this means that users are leaving a subtle information trail that can be monitored, captured and utilised 24/7 — a metrics nirvana accessible all from the comfort of Page and Brin’s home coffee tables.

Google’s mobile war-march is still not a fully formed idea, regardless of how it will be expanding on the Motorola acquisition and its mobile number hoarding. The methodology of how Google and Facebook have individually steered their mobile courses is a clear-cut example of the basic differences between a permission-based list building mission — and doing it through a hat of a darker colour.

While mobile marketing is in its infancy in the US, in a number of emerging markets there are almost 20 mobile phones for each Internet-connected PC. Experts estimate that more than half a billion people accessed mobile internet in 2009 and that this figure will have doubled by 2015.

The overall growth of mobile over the next two years is predicted to be the most pronounced in the US, which will represent 28 percent of the global market, and Western Europe, which will account for 25 percent.

77 percent of the global population uses mobile phones and with current expansion rates, web access by people on the move — via laptops and smart mobile devices — is likely to exceed web access from desktop computers within the next four years.

According to Nov 2010 comScore data for US consumers, some 70-million mobile users accessed email through a mobile device, with 43.5-million doing so on a near-daily basis. The same company’s Mobile Year in Review 2010 report revealed that personal email was the biggest content consumption category for mobile users, with more users checking personal email on a smartphone than participating even in social networks. The proportion of all USA mobile users using their phones for email in 2010 was recorded as 30.5 percent.

A statement in an international ESPs guide to approaching the mobile email challenge reveals more on the mobile dilemma when other platforms come to the party:

Life is full of unavoidable truths, mostly involving waistlines and wrinkles. While we all feel we should somehow take account of that in our email design and strategy, few of us do. Mostly because it’s hard to work out exactly how to deal with the “mobile email challenge”. The problems start when we try and work out what exactly the “mobile email challenge” is. Much advice on the topic carefully avoids going into detail because the challenges (plural) are various and changing.

Which ever way you look at it, the game of cross-platforming is not easily won. Even so, how long will it be until Google takes its integrated communications agenda a step further and we begin seeing pronounced mobile happenings on Google Plus?



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