#SESLON: Mobile Is the Future, No Seriously, It Really Is, Says Google

Anyone who has stepped foot in a digital marketing conference over the past few years will have found it hard to dodge the same phrase over and over: “This year is the year of mobile.” But according to Google’s managing director for performance solutions and innovations, Ian Carrington, this century is the one for mobile and we’re just at the beginning of some very cool things to come. 

Discussing the evolution of mobile at SES London, Carrington opened his presentation with a slide showing how long it took various mediums to reach 1 billion users. Radio and TV both took approximately 70 years, while computers took 32. By comparison, smartphones only took five years.

Carrington was an early adopter of smartphones, having purchased his first one in 1997. He realized mobile was the future years later while playing Snake on a Nokia. “All of a sudden, you’re entertained,” he said.

“I see a lot of companies failing on mobile, not measuring it and not attributing it,” Carrington said. “If you’re not doing that correctly, you’re going to fall on your face like a lot of companies did with desktop in the ’90s.”

Highlighting the importance of measurement, Carrington talked about an early 20th-century Russian nail factory. To meet a weight quota, the factory manufactured large nails. Because there were far too many large nails for consumers’ needs, the factory started making a lot of small nails to meet a quantity quota instead.

“They eventually figured out what the right metric was, but this is what every advertiser should be doing,” he said.

Recommending that every marketer measure everything possible, Carrington added that he believes the last-click attribution model to be obsolete. Instead, he said it should be swapped out for time decay or linear touch points. Additionally, Carrington suggested cost-per-action, which is more expensive upfront, but more lucrative in the long run.

Airbnb is one brand that does this particularly successfully. Because the company is younger and more modern, he believes it’s less risk-averse.

Along with measurement and attribution, Carrington considers maximization – “anything that’s working: make it work more” – and automation benchmarks of mobile marketing. But the most important thing, he noted, is to keep up with the ever-evolving landscape.

Demonstrating how far mobile devices have come, he placed his wrist on the auditorium’s projector. He spoke into his smartwatch, and looked up flight information and called a cab, as many audience members tweeted him asking about the watch or took to Google attempting to find it themselves.

“Wearables are a big thing, but bio is going to be a big thing going forward,” he said. “Not many people are doing it, but in the future, you’re going to see more and more people doing it.”

He added that one Swedish company has gone so far as to implant microchips in its employees’ hands. The chips, which equal the size of a grain of rice, use radio-frequency identification, similarly to the Oyster card used by London commuters. With their hands, staff can open doors, use the photo copier, and buy items from the vending machine.

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