"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Much of the mobile user’s organic behavior is based on using simple tools to accomplish daily tasks. It’s usually nothing too glamorous, just lots of utility and practical solutions for everyday life.
It is not surprising that those apps that are among the most popular and successful do a good job of servicing our daily behaviors, such as communicating with friends and family, checking directions, optimizing device memory and finding places to eat, drink and buy things. The top five or 10 apps in any given global region almost uniformly provide these basic functions.
The industry is well aware of the value of using fresh data signals from the mobile user’s interactions. Older data won't cut it. Third-party data doesn’t suit either if it’s not updated in real time. When has the best way to learn about someone’s desires been to ask a disinterested third party?
No, in order to create value for users and break through a cacophony of content and messages, the ability to extrapolate, isolate and assess fresh mobile signals – the so-called “tiny data” – is the key to the future of modern mobile advertising.
Consider for a moment a simple shopping trip for groceries.
First, a shopping list. There are plenty of stand-alone apps to help us shop and make grocery lists to create calorie-conscious recipes and such. Creating a shopping list to follow is a normal, organic behavior, so the availability of such apps is at least rooted in providing practical solutions for our daily lives.
Before leaving the house, the consumer may use a Google search to find a store that is located in a particular neighborhood or offers a certain type of fare. With directions in hand, the user sets out, posting on Facebook along the way: “Off to Maria’s Market in the Mission in search of fresh Chilean sea bass.” A friend replies, “It’s a great store! Try the fresh oysters, too!”
Upon arriving, the mobile user strolls the aisles. Since the consumer isn’t playing “Clash of Clans” at this moment, there is no point trying to advertise on that app or to get him to use it. The consumer’s more organic behavior would be to send a WhatsApp message to a friend: “What sort of wine goes well with sea bass?” Or “Lynn is coming to dinner this evening. She’s gluten-free, right? What kind of dessert should I pick up?”
In this case the natural behavior of the user is to communicate about the activity he is engaged in. The utility to accomplish this behavior is the mobile app. Throughout the process, tiny data signals produced from inside the user’s apps link to the user’s social and demographic data.
Tiny Data In Action
Access to this type of fresh signals data is advertising gold. The ability to receive, interpret and respond to such signals in real or near real time with unique, ideally suited content and messages is the holy grail.
For example, our shopper’s signals seem to indicate that right now, in this moment and context, he would be open to the following types of messages: suggestion for a wine that pairs nicely with Chilean sea bass, a competitive ad for a store around the corner with fresh Blue Point oysters or a special offer from a brand with a nice gluten-free cake.
Certainly, presenting a message or call to action that appeals to the user in that moment is more desirable than pushing an unrelated ad through a browser. The results from such in-app engagements are likely to generate a return on investment in the form of positive brand engagement, if not also direct revenue.
At no point in our shopping excursion did the user do anything out of the ordinary. He went about his everyday activity and used his mobile device as a tool to help him accomplish things with a little more ease. Enhancing the utility of the user’s device, and not interrupting him with silly content and calls to action that have nothing to do with his goals or context, is key to the sorts of apps and in-app experiences that must be created for him.
For publishers and advertisers seeking to commercialize and scale their consumer apps globally, the most direct route to success lies in using tiny data signals to build experiences that appeal to natural behaviors, rather than asking consumers to change them.