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Mobile news of 2014: A look back at the top trends & buzz!

Top mobile news 2014As the end of the year approaches, it’s hard not to look back at all the news that shaped mobile in 2014. And what a year it has been! We thought we’d take a quick trip down memory lane and pull out the highlights of a year where mobile really took center stage!

Mobile Takes Over, and Apps are Running the Show

Long proclaimed “The Year of Mobile”, 2014 finally earned the title with news that mobile usage surpassed desktop usage, making up 60% of time spent accessing digital media. Thanks to mobile-friendly sites and apps that streamline the online experience, mobile is proving to be the fast and easy way to stay connected, access information and make purchases. When it comes to mobile usage, apps make up 86% of time spent on mobile devices, dominating the way users find and share content. So what does this all mean to brands? Firstly, it stresses the importance of developing your mobile presence with responsive sites or web apps to ensure you’re capturing & converting your mobile traffic. Secondly, if brands want to be where their mobile traffic is that means they need to reach customers in apps. Think of it this way: brands that aren’t developing a strategy to reach customers in apps, and focusing only on the mobile web, are only leveraging about 10% of mobile time spent. Which brings us to the next big development of 2014…

App Install Ads for Everyone

Social media apps are among the most used apps globally and provide brands a great space for storytelling and engaging audiences, even if these days that may require a bit of budget via the famous sponsored post or tweet. This year we saw Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo and Google (via AdWords product for search and YouTube) expand their advertising products to app developers in the form of App Install Ads, helping brands drive downloads with advanced audience and device targeting. In the case of Facebook, the social platform allows you to create lookalike audiences based on a custom audience, further helping brands expand their reach, and just recently, started rolling out ads with video. This month, Tumblr also jumped on the brand wagon, announcing that they would roll out mobile app ads that would show up on the user dashboard. With competitive CPIs (cost per install), app install ads on social platforms are one more tool in the app marketers toolkit and it will be interesting to see how brands start using the power of data for app user re-targeting and engagement campaigns (already offered on Facebook) in the future.

Video Killed the Display Ad Star

Video stole the show this year as it emerged as the clear choice for advertisers looking to educate and engage audiences who’ve become passive to display ads. Facebook rolled out auto-play video ad products this year, helping advertisers raise engagement by 5 to 6 percent in respect to image ads, while Google introduced app install ads to their TrueView YouTube video ad products. With eMarketer predicting that the video ad market is expected to hit $2.7B by 2017, video will certainly be the star of mobile ads!

Say Hello to the Beacon

Beacons took the spotlight this year, with many of the top brands beginning to experiment with the proximity-based, indoor push notification technology. First introduced by Apple in late 2013 as a way to encourage in-store sales, 2014 has seen the technology used by major retailers, supermarkets, restaurants and events to send highly relevant messages to a brand’s app users. For example, Miami International Airport will start using beacons to send location-based information on flights, ground transportation and airport parking to travelers, while House of Fraser in the UK has rolled out a trial of beacon equipped mannequins to engage in-store shoppers as well as passer-bys. Although a lot has been said about beacon messages being intrusive,  it’s important to remember that beacon-powered push notification should be treated like any other message you would choose to send your app users. Brands sending relevant, informative and useful messages that tip customers off to helpful services or special offers will see the best return on adopting beacons.

Mobile Payment Driving mCommerce Growth

Although mobile payment hasn’t gone mainstream in 2014, the popularity of new systems like Apple Pay, which makes it easier for retailers to take in-app payments, has certainly raised talks about the subject this year. Facilitating easy in-app payment has increased consumer’s comfort levels with making purchases on their mobile device. In fact since 2010, mCommerce has grown from 1.8% to over 11% of total e-Commerce spending ($204 billion in 2014), and that is projected to grow exponentially, reaching $626 billion in sales by 2018 according to estimates from Goldman Sachs. Although retailers have been a bit slow to adopt the necessary technology to accept payments from mobile wallets, 2014 did see progress as Apple released an NFC-enabled iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and Apple Watch, propelling many to believe that it’s only a matter of time until NFC goes mainstream.

All Hail the Phablet

Continuing on the topic of Apple, this year’s release of the iPhone 6 Plus really popularized the term “phablet”, which is the in-between of a phone and tablet. But what’s a larger screen got to do with changing mobile in 2014?  Larger screens enhance usability of apps, customer satisfaction of the mobile experience and allow brands to diversify business offerings by bringing traditional desktop-only tasks to mobile. Phablets are helping bridge the gap in the market between the need to perform more complex tasks. In fact, if we look at mobile use in the workplace, larger screen phones like the iPhone 6 Plus, Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Edge are finding a home in the hands of SMEs for the advantage of productivity apps that help them do their jobs and perform tasks quicker.

“The ability to not only view, create and edit documents but also conduct specific business tasks like finances, expenses, payroll and CRM while on the move is easier with a bigger screen, so it is inevitable the two will go hand-in-hand for businesses looking to drive workplace efficiencies” – Mike Tomlinson, director of small business at EE 

Between new devices and new technologies, 2014 has been a paramount year for mobile. But what will 2015 bring? We’ll make our predictions on 2015 mobile trends next week, so stay tuned!

Images: Jonathan Nalder, Jason HowieKārlis Dambrāns,

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