Cherrypicks: Six trends in mobile marketing

Jason Chiu, CEO of mobile marketing agency Cherrypicks, shares the latest trends in mobile marketing.

1. Mobile marketing is an experience

Chiu says the biggest pitfall for marketers is to see mobile marketing as limited to banner or display ads. For him, mobile marketing is all about creating a good experience for the user, whether it’s about social media or augmented reality.

“If you look at mobile marketing with the traditional digital marketing approach, then that in itself is the biggest pitfall – you fail to take a broader view and say that it’s actually only one channel. In online-to-offline, for example, it just so happens the connector is mobile.”

To effectively do advertising on mobile, marketers must take a broader view of what counts as mobile marketing.

“Marketing is always an integral part of the service that you can provide to the user. There is no advertising as in, ‘Here is an ad between TV programmes’ or ‘In between two locations on a web page, here is your banner’. There is no such rigidity in mobile.”

He points out the three key factors making the user experience different on mobile compared with PC are form, location and personalisation.

Because the smartphone has a different form compared with the PC, the way the user interacts with the physical device is different. In terms of location, the smartphone user is mobile and can be anywhere at any time. Finally, the smartphone is an extremely personal device – while desktop computers and laptops can be shared between people, your smartphone is always yours.

“With these differences, marketing and commerce on mobile is a different ball game, one that is arguably much richer than the PC world.”

One example is giving customers a pleasant experience in the form of a game such as iButterfly, where getting the customers to smile and associate an amazing experience with your brand is worth more than simply giving discounts.

2. We are in the era of online-to-offline (O2O)

Inspired by the Morgan Stanley Report, “Asia Insight: Dawn of O2O – Connecting the Unconnected” published last month, and a February Goldman Sachs report claiming that 2014 is the year of O2O, Chiu says it is crucial companies do marketing and sales that fit the behaviours of consumers engaging in both online and offline channels.


Showrooming, where people try products in-store before purchasing them online, and webrooming, where people look up products and reviews online before buying them at an offline retailer, are equally done by 70% to 80% of consumers, according to Chiu.

He argues online platforms are not eroding the revenue streams of offline channels.

“It’s not that online is invading offline and offline is trying to prevent online from happening. The right question is, what should we do now that this behaviour is here to stay?”

3. Augmented reality (AR) is no longer a niche

Chiu defines AR as something that stimulates the vision of users and gives an end-user an experience.

“A lot of things now employ AR perhaps without saying it. For example, Google Glass and a lot of wearable devices use AR, giving us services that we would engage in. We are not selling a service because it has AR, we are selling it because the experience is such that AR becomes an essential part of providing it.

“AR is no longer a niche or a technology. AR is applied to provide a certain user experience that will be basic or taken for granted in the future.”

4. Future adverts on wearable devices will be more subtle and assimilated into content than they currently are on mobile

Chiu predicts display ads will probably be non-existent in wearable devices, and rather be experience-based ads.

“If there are display ads, they would have to be very subtle and hide very well. That would contradict its very existence – display ads must be very loud and clear in your face, but it is almost impossible to do that with wearables.”


The advertising must be assimilated into the AR experience itself. For example, if you switch on Google Glass and look around you and search for certain locations in the virtual world, advertising should become part of this search process rather than occupying an unmoving space in your visual world.

“I think that advertising can be built into search where you get relevant results that you are searching for, plus references that have been paid for with advertising dollars to show you more information. But that’s about it – you will not see an ad or a video popping up in your glasses and playing for two minutes.

“But these are just initial observations – Google Glass might fail, but it has started a revolution that will continue.”

5. For new media, it is about return on survival, not ROI

“ROI is quite misleading when it comes to the new digital media,” Chiu says. “If the ROI is already demonstrable and very high, it wouldn’t be new because everyone will be doing it.”

He adds that social media and mobile platforms are key to the survival of consumer brands.

“Imagine that you are a consumer brand, but you are not on social media and you have no presence on mobile – you would be so obsolete. If your CEO asks, if I do social media and mobile marketing, what’s my ROI? He cannot afford not to do it – that’s return on survival.”

That’s why consumer brands should dive into social media, whether it is based on trial and error or expert advice, to establish a presence there.

6. Social media campaigns should be about brand-building, not selling

The power of social media should be leveraged to connect to customers emotionally rather than selling products. Adverts must be shaped into fun and appealing content, characteristic of social media content.

“There is no buy button,” Chiu jokes. “In Hong Kong, the most shared posts on Facebook are either really funny or portray people who you feel sorry for. Those are the things that capture people’s attention.”

Social media content must capture people’s impulse to share, rather than being simply a container for a TVC or a static ad. Chiu says he would also avoid running competitions that awards people with prizes if they get the most likes.

“The value of a like is very low and it can also be manufactured.”

Instead, brands should take a long-term view of social media campaigns as a means to develop goodwill and build relationships with customers to drive sales in the long run through a return on brand equity.

“Branding means friends and friends in social media is all there is, no one promises you commerce on social media.

“You have to take a longer and broader view of how it’s going to create a positive impact on the top and bottom line. If it’s a campaign by itself, it may be hard to calculate. If you look at it from a broader perspective, can you afford not to do it? And do you believe that a happier customer will buy more?”