This week’s Google I/O conference just wrapped up, and we asked some of our top leaders to interpret what the tech giant’s announcements means for mobile marketers. Here are the top three implications of this week’s news.
Instant Apps will bolster the app ecosystem
Instant Apps allow mobile users to click a link to launch quick, bite-sized app experiences, often for a single purpose, like paying for parking – or as a substitute for visiting a mobile website to conduct one transaction.
The idea behind it is very Google, in the sense that it comes from the search mindset. That is, they are assuming that the consumer is looking for something specific and they want to get the “answer” instantly and without making a commitment. So, in a sense, this is the same as web search, just more elegantly organized for the mobile device.
“Google is essentially trying to make it easier for consumers to interact with apps or get a quick answer from an app. The fact that Google is trying to make that experience more like the web, without compromising the superiority of the native app experience over mobile web, reinforces the fact that the app ecosystem is a far more important touch point between users and publishers than the mobile web, a fact which is only going to expand further over time.”
“For years, billions of ad dollars have been spent trying to get people to download apps; now, Instant Apps adds a completely new dynamic to this industry. It adds a middle ground, a pre-download phrase that brands and businesses can use to allow people to interact and transact quickly and easily – or in another word – instantly. I think some the focus will shift from pushing users to install an app and move to disseminating these instant-app experiences, getting people to dip their toes in the water and try it – which then, hopefully, will lead to the install outcome, only perhaps with a stickier result.
Instant Apps is going to open up even more ad dollars into mobile advertising because it provides an entirely new KPI for marketers. Instead of tracking full app downloads from the app stores, they can look at how many Instant App uses they received and be able to benchmark against that. Furthermore, imagine a new tactic where marketers retarget users who have engaged with their Instant App to push them to the full install phase!
They are the long-awaited thread that ties together the in-app ad experience to the subsequent user action. Right now, most in-app ads tap through to a mobile web landing page where a user may convert in some way: Watch a video, browse product pages, fill out a form. Or in many instances, the user doesn’t tap the mobile ad at all and instead visits the mobile page later on via search. Because the browser doesn’t ‘see’ that mobile user’s ad identifier, it’s hard to connect that conversion action back to the ad impression. If the advertiser uses an Instant App experience instead, we will see that loop close as the Instant App should be able to capture the user’s ad ID like any other app. This will create a more accurate and efficient mobile ad economy, filling the void created by the lack of consistent cookie compatibility in mobile. And all of this could happen for advertisers overnight as they switch from mobile web landing pages to Instant Apps.”
“The idea of atomizing an entire app and building it in a modular way, so that people can access relevant pieces based on what they are doing and what they need at that point in time? That’s fascinating. Google just added an entirely new dimension to the way that designers and developers think about mobile experiences.
Instant Apps, while creating brilliant consumer use cases for certain classes of apps – think Productivity, Retail, QSR, among others – are not universally applicable. One would never really want to access ‘part of’ a game, for instance. But the idea of grabbing contextually relevant portions of an app experience ‘as you need them’ is truly transformational.”
Mobile continues to eat up consumer attention – at the expense of desktops & laptops
In just the past 12 months, we’ve seen Apple introduce split-screen to multiple devices, starting with OS X El Capitan (desktop) last spring to iOS 9 in the iPad over the summer. (And you could say it rounded it out with its March Madness split-screen feature on Apple TV.)
But Google announcing its multi-tasking and multi-attention features like split-screen and picture-in-picture on all Android devices, including phones, is much more far-reaching. Here’s why:
“The number of times users have to use a laptop to do something, professionally or personally, is diminishing every day. Mobile is becoming the device for almost every use case, even the complex ones where you have to access multiple points of information at once. We’re getting closer to the day when the majority of consumers, even in developed markets, no longer need a desktop or laptop at which point they may only be reachable on their mobile device Even today, Mobile is the one screen where you are guaranteed to reach consumers. You can’t say that about any other medium.”
“We’re increasingly seeing capabilities and features that consumers grow to love on mobile being ported to computer OSs. And that’s a distinct reversal from the past five years of mobile OS development; we’ve passed the point of trying to get people familiar with mobile devices by using capabilities, cues and design schema from the computer world. These mobile devices have outstripped all other machines, in terms of our collective personal reliance, and are now the absolute key to rooting customers into a company’s hardware/software ecosystem.”
The bot craze just went mainstream – but we’re hesitant
While messaging apps still don’t hold a candle to premium gaming and entertainment apps when it comes to time spent and user engagement, they are still a big opportunity for marketers.
Google’s introduction of Allo, a messaging app that integrates a lot of features that we see in Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and even Snapchat, such as stickers, emojis and drawings – but with one big differentiator: Artificial Intelligence. You can use the ‘smart’ assistant to help find relevant information or ‘guess’ at what your response should be.
So there is the obvious tie-in to chatbots, since the Google assistant could easily move over and make room for businesses who want to enter the space and have conversations or provide value for users, similar to what we’re seeing on other platforms, where users can schedule a ride, talk to customer service or order a pizza – all from inside an app.
“These types of personal, ‘one-on-one’ interactions are taking front seat over more constructed experiences, and as users adopt to this format, they could be less receptive to the old way of doing things. Advertisers have to follow not just eyeballs, but habits – and big players like Facebook and Google are betting that messaging apps will become a user hub for far more than chatting with friends. Messaging apps could become far more broad and take away users from traditional destinations like websites and apps. But the jury is still out on what people will actually do. Will this be their new interface for all mobile actions? We don’t think so, but marketers should definitely keep an eye on this space.”