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Press: Campaign – What A Decade of iPhone Means For Brands

Published about the iPhone in Campaign Magazine, 17/1/17

The iPhone may have secured its place in popular culture; but for marketers a decade of iPhone has failed to deliver on the promise of mobile marketing. From interruptive ads to clumsy display ads the drive to simply squeeze traditional advertising formats into the confines of the smartphone has created a highly unsatisfactory ecosystem for advertisers.

With this in mind, Campaign spoke to Stephen Upstone, chair of the Mobile Marketing Association UK, about the key lessons for brands from the broken promises of the last decade of the iPhone and what are the opportunities ahead.

Q: How has the iPhone changed advertising?

A: Despite the intense excitement surrounding the first iPhone’s announcement, the full implications of its arrival weren’t felt until the years following its release, and are still being felt now. In the last ten years, advertisers and creative teams have relished the iPhone's (and other smartphones') variety of opportunities for interactive, novel and engaging ad units. We are still in the middle of this development with live video, VR, AR, etc. – the smartphone, championed by the iPhone, is a piece of technology birthing a number of novel options for consuming media, and will no doubt continue to do so going forward.

Lastly, the iPhone was one of the first phones to develop the idea of attribution - advertisers now have the means of tracing and measuring the impact of ads in driving not only store footfall, but also physical purchases. For brands, having this specific ROI is key.

You only need to look at the original with its clunky design and thick, hard casing, to realise how far we’ve come.

Q: What lessons are there for marketers from the cult of the iPhone?

A: The rapid development and brand loyal nature of the iPhone cult is key. Consumer tastes can only have a certain lifespan, and companies like Apple are having to make sure they stay ahead of the game when it comes to their technology and the users buying their phones. Modern consumers don’t just love tech – they love having a top-of-the-range model with a premium brand image. Certainly, this message has been seen in other sectors, particularly fashion, but it is no more true than in the case of the iPhone.

Q: The TV industry attempted to label the smartphone the "second screen" but marketers were quick to recognise the central role of the smartphone. How has the iPhone revolutionised media consumption habits?

A: The way in which we now consume media is so much more snackable. Habits have changed. We now wake up in the middle of the night to check our messages, news or the scores of our favourite sports team. As a result, attention spans are at an all-time low (roughly 12-15 seconds as of the last count) and the advertising communications have become much shorter in response, giving way to successful ten-second mobile video ads for example

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