Born on Mobile: Storytelling in the Age of the Connected Consumer – Advertising Week

By Kelsey Whitaker, Partner, Associate Director, Content+, Mindshare NA

Let me begin with a brief prelude.

Advertising Week (like all industry conferences), in some respects could be a metaphor for the media and mobile landscape: it’s crowded, it’s cluttered, it’s noisy, and it’s competitive (in this sense, stiff competition for a seat in a top session). After waiting precious moments in line, I was met with a black rope at the door – the theatre was full. While I was contemplating risking my career through various methods to break through the ropes, a thought came upon me: I could save my career and stream this session live on my phone. For a session all about mobile, I could be the most mobile. “Yeah, this feels right. (Right?)” I thought. Read on for a recap of what else I thought, from the floor of Lincoln Center.

As connected consumers, we live in a “mobile-first” world. This is a term used a lot, and while I agree with its intention, I would argue today as a term it has started to feel a bit antiquated. Mobile-first implies a delineation and a separation from those that are second and third and so on. Mobile is not just first – it’s too pervasive; it’s ubiquitous.

That’s true today with mobile’s explosive, unprecedented global adoption. And with it, the smartphone has birthed new, ever-evolving technologies changing the way brands connect and engage – a new dimension in the way we tell stories.

Nada Stirratt, Facebook’s VP Global Marketing Solutions, took us through some points behind the evolution of modern storytelling. Some of the biggest recent cultural moments were born on mobile. See: the Ice Bucket Challenge and Chewbacca Mom (130MM views in 3 days).

With the mobile shift, what are the implications for marketers? Speed and engagement are required and enabled by mobile. We’re seeing impact play out in new storytelling dimensions.

  • Short and ephemeral. Stories as a format are blowing up (1 in 2 say they’re using Stories on at least three platforms every day).
  • Personal and visual rich. Relevant visuals spark engagement and dialogue (1/3 of messages on FB are initiated from a visual representation of a story), and help catch consumers quick. People consume mobile content faster than desktop (7sec avg time to process on mobile).
  • Expressive and immersive. Advanced tech, AR in particular, is enabling this like never before (and blurring the boundaries between digital and real life, with huge impacts particularly for retails brands, i.e. Nordstrom)

Further exemplifying, Laura Joukovski, the CMO of TechStyle, overseeing SAVAGE x FENTY, Rihanna’s new lingerie brand, called mobile their storefront – it’s where consumers are discovering, experiencing, and shopping for their brands. The new brand has been getting tons of engagement (and not just because Rihanna’s muse and model went into surprise labor BTS at the SAVAGE x FENTY show, seconds after she left the stage). The brand is successfully taking the celebratory and engaging IRL show experience to mobile in snackable and visually stunning ways. (And because: Rihanna.) As a new brand, they benefit from the born on mobile mindset.

Storytelling, to be born on mobile, must have mobile best practice in its DNA. This, too often still, is about adjusting old “defaults” – for creatives and brands, not creating for TV first and adapting, but creating and strategizing for mobile foremost.

Some added takeaways to keep in mind:

  • Meet people where they are. (Hint: this is mobile for the majority of us; the average American checks their phone 80+ times a day, once every 12 minutes).
  • When you meet them, be relevant. Leverage immersion, interaction and personalization to drive engagement. Tie into the media that’s in front of them (think of mindset and modes of receptivity).
  • Think of the action you want your consumer to take. This should impact the stories we tell (and/or how we tell them).
  • Mobile (looking at you, Social), is a place to experiment and play with formats telling your brand story; there is no magic formula. Optimize with learnings create a virtuous feedback cycle.
  • Keep measuring (still the largest challenge to mobile) – how can we connect ad exposure/engagement to business objections (store visits, or ultimate sales), currently in Facebook testing.

P.S. on the heels of the MMA SMARTIES Awards Monday night, our own work left no shortage of mobile inspo – keep up the good work #TeamMindshare.