The Future of Mobile – an Interview with Dan Hodges of Consumers in Motion

Dan-Hodges-Consumers-in-MotionDan Hodges is CEO and founder of Consumers in Motion Group, an agency focused on mobile strategy. Earlier in his career, Dan served in senior executive roles at Verve Mobile, Nokia, Mediavest and the Associated Press. We connected for a Q&A recently to get a fresh perspective on the mobile consumer and how mobile is changing everything.

What is the mission of Consumers in Motion?

Dan Hodges: I founded Consumers in Motion to help companies navigate the rapid technological shifts in the market. Attention spans have fallen from 12 seconds in 2008 to 8 seconds in 2014, so we have lost one-third of our attention. When we are talking about losing one-third of our attention, it is a pretty daunting situation if you are in the business of getting people’s attention. [He is talking about you, advertisers and agencies]

However, I am very optimistic about the growth of the audio medium based on the technology, consumer behavior and need. There are many things that favor the convergence of technologies that make this a compelling opportunity.

Could you provide an example?

Dan Hodges: If you look at connected cars and the opportunity for proximity-based advertising built-in, it creates new interesting opportunities. In the car environment where consumers cannot be visually distracted but have the opportunity in that moment to interact with an audio ad and find the nearest Starbucks is a great value. Voice opens up a world of opportunities for behaviors that are already out there.

There is also a world of possibilities with all of the data created with wearables to have ads served to you based on activity. For example the Nike app could create an opportunity to talk about hydration.

What is the Future of the Mobile Consumer?

Dan Hodges: Consumers are interacting with phones by touch and with their voices. The next logical leap is to interact with relevant and meaningful audio engagement. I encourage experimentation in this area because it will be explosive and a market that develops in three years instead of ten years. There will be times when the most meaningful ad will be an audio ad.

You have written extensively about the customer journey and how it’s different on mobile. What do audio advertisers and publishers need to know and do now to adjust?

Dan Hodges: The conquesting of retail began about three years ago. Imagine the same opportunity to reach someone in an audio ad and capture their interest and help them determine exactly what they want and then direct them to the store and into the aisle and the point of purchase. Mobile makes this possible.

Mary Meeker’s data shows a $25 billion gap in mobile advertising, why do you think the gap exists?

Dan Hodges: There is always latency between innovation and execution. Decisions are made based on historical data. You have such rapid change that you need to do forward planning with the expectation that the gap will decrease.

Will the gap naturally close or will something need to change to capture those advertising dollars?

Dan Hodges: Mobile advertising is always about relevancy and context. To the extent that advertisers understand that the devices are carried by real people, meeting their need states with your brand is the golden ticket. Starbucks learned a lesson from Uber. It’s all about relevancy to your consumers. Relevance makes it more than about the transaction. It becomes about the customer and serving them the way they want to be served.

The key understanding that must be learned is that it’s about the consumer not about the brand. A lot of advertisers I work with need to experiment with this. This is why automated CRM technologies will become so important to capture and track the data. There is no model they can copy. We all start out doing what we did the last time until we figure out that it’s not working.

[Editors note: that last comment sounds a lot like visual display ads on audio apps. It seems like the right idea until you learn that 79% of audio ads are served when the device screen is dark and inaccessible. Now that’s an extreme viewability problem. Interactive audio enables consumers to hear audio ads and then interact by voice even when the screen is not viewable. No touch or sight is required.]

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