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What are the big trends this year for branded mobile app development and mobile strategy?

From consumers to marketing directors, mobile is the word on everyone’s lips at the moment. And it’s not difficult to see why - it’s estimated that by 2014, mobile devices will have overtaken PCs. Mobile devices are not only more portable – they’re more personal and customisable too. Living in people’s pockets, they provide the ultimate communications platform. With mobile comes a wealth of almost limitless opportunity for brands to get straight to the heart of consumers and ultimately increase brand engagement.

But is developing a mobile marketing strategy worth the time, effort and investment for companies? Does mobile live up to the hype? How much impact can a killer app make?
The Drum caught up with leading agencies in the world of app development and mobile strategy, posing a series of questions to discover just what it is that’s got people talking, and why developing such a strategy might not be just prudent – but actually essential for the future of your brand.

Paul Rawlings, CEO, Screenreach
I think we’ll start to see more convergence between old and new with advertisers using smart device apps to enhance their advertisements on the more traditional media platforms. For example, using the Domino’s app to allow consumers to interact with their digital signage campaign, or using the Coca Cola app to allow consumers to interact with their TV advert in real time.
Smartphones are with people at all times, on their commute to work, while they are sat in front of the TV, literally everywhere they go – they are basically a mobile interaction tool. Brands can really offer their consumers something new and rewarding by embracing this kind of convergence.

Ste Brennan, Code Computerlove
Greater efforts into providing mobile websites / web apps as an alternative to or in addition to native apps. We'll see a bigger shift from App Store purchasing to in app purchasing model. We will see applications becoming more engaging with real-time notifications and alerts, a greater focus on social and local context, as well as "always-on" cloud connectivity with such platforms as iCloud etc. becoming established. It will be also interesting to see what impact Google+ and it's integration with Google’s other services such as search, maps, YouTube, etc. and it's ability to break down the social graph into smaller ‘circles’ will have on the social app landscape as a challenge to Facebook and Twitter.

Simon Jones, Head of Online, Intermarketing
Apps that can leverage Near Field Communications (NFC) most effectively will certainly start to appear over the next year or so when new handsets adopt the technology. And if the financial services sector, and in particular banks could get their act together like mint.com have done in the US, then that would be really something.

Integration of cross platform user experience has always been the holy grail for any business and brand, so getting the message right across multi platforms is going to be a key mobile strategy. And it’s not just about mobile smartphones. We’ve got tablets that occupy the mobile category too and don’t forget smart TVs (ok not mobile) but they come with apps like LoveFilm that integrate across web and the mobile too.

Steve Peters, Code Computerlove
A move towards m.mobile websites and away from ‘let’s do an app’.
Apps will be platform agnostic and not handset specific (i.e. native to iOS, Android or Windows)

Peter Dolukhanov, Joint Managing Director – Technology & Operations, Nice Agency

  • B2B and internal productivity mobile applications
  • Multi-screen applications that deliver connected and personalised experiences
  • Near Field Communication (NFC) and other touch-based mobile integration

Graeme Hastings, Creative Director, Science Creative Ltd
Personalisation and location based services are allowing companies to provide very targeted offers based upon the consumers location and personal preferences. Increasingly offers are tailored to users proximity to stores or their interest in particular brands.

Mobile payment is growing, you can now use an app to book a table, view the menu and then pay for your meal.

James Clarke, Thin Martian
Expect more branded apps. I think brands are really waking-up to the strategic value of mobile tech – not just as a marketing tool, but as the means to build direct relationships with consumers. That is essential if brands want to leverage the massive value of social networks. What does it mean? Well on a simple level it means your in-house marketing team can reach consumers directly at a fraction of the cost that agencies used to charge for campaign-driven user acquisition. It also means at a more complex level that brands can move towards cutting out the middle men – expect brands to start delivering news, journalism, drama, music directly to their app users and bypassing TV and traditional media channels. I’d also expect them to give you much greater access to the data they hold about you, and apps that enable them to understand more about your pattern of consumption and other brands you like. It’s already happening with brands like Vodafone VIP delivering feeds of music news and vids via apps. It’s a natural progression – if brands can sell direct, deliver direct and market direct, they can compete in content areas as well.

Peter Dolukhanov, Joint Managing Director – Technology & Operations, Nice Agency

  • Multi-screen applications delivering a consistent user experience across the myriad of devices and platforms
  • Dual-screen and integrated applications enabling an enhanced viewing experience such as Smart TV apps that connect with mobile devices and tablets.
  • Enhanced location-based applications ensuring relevant content is delivered to the user

Graeme Hastings, Creative Director, Science Creative Ltd
Cross platform development, it is now possible to design apps using Flash or HTML5. These portable methods save on the large costs that can be associated with developing native code for each platform.Security – Android is increasing seeing malware – malicious apps designed to invade users security and privacy.

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