Google, LinkedIn, Facebook suggest a focus on mobile before looking into AI

Marketing representatives from the three companies have suggested organisations should examine mobile strategies before getting swept up in the shininess of new technologies.

While technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) have been hyped as the next conceptual thing to be prepared for, marketing representatives from Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook have suggested organisations reevaluate existing avenues first.

According to Maureen Morris, head of Industry Sales Strategy and Insights at Google, organisations are often not taking full advantage of the things that consumers have already fully adopted.

"I'm going to take the less futurist view on this," she said, speaking at Marketo's Future of Marketing Conference in Sydney on Friday.

"We could sit here and talk about artificial intelligence or machine learning -- and that is Google's next big bet -- but the truth of the matter is, we often get distracted by the shiny. Especially in marketing, you want to try the new thing."

Morris explained that if she had to highlight the one valuable technology for marketers in 2017, she would think mobile.

"If you have not fully optimised your mobile user experience, if you don't fully understand how your customers are using mobile, if you're not valuing those touch points in the right way ... and if you're adopting the real customer approach to it, you shouldn't be doing anything else before you do that," she said.

"Before you get distracted by what's coming down the pipe -- because it won't have material impact for you as a marketer for a few years -- really get focused on what's here and now today; mobile is here and now today and it's behaviour, it's not a device."

Similarly, Jason Juma-Ross, head of technology at Facebook, highlighted that there seems to be a fascination with the "new" in the industry.

"We all can get distracted with this in technology ... there are brilliant basics out there that so many of us aren't doing," he said.

"Customers have moved and they're accelerating away in terms of their behaviour and so the question is, if you can catch up with customers faster than your competitors."

LinkedIn's head of marketing for ANZ Ben Eatwell, shared a similar view to both Morris and Juma-Ross.

"I love stargazing into the future, looking at AI and VR and AR and all of these technologies and telling people what Pokémon Go really means for our industry, but there's still so much we need to understand about our customer -- and being more relevant to them," Eatwell said. "All of these new technologies are great and fantastic, but I'm still focused on better understanding, better actioning the behaviour, and feeding that back into the organisation."

All three panellists confirmed they do not believe mobile, especially in Australia, is going to disappear as the platform of choice for a vast majority of their respective audiences.

Ericsson predicted in July that traffic across mobile networks would increase by a count of 7.5 over six years across the South-East Asia and Oceania region, with data traffic expected to grow to 6 exabytes per month for 2021.

Web analytics company StatCounter reported earlier this month that internet usage on mobile devices exceeded desktop for the first time worldwide.

Similarly, statistics from IAB Australia and Nielsen showed that 12.5 million Australians aged 18 and over accessed the internet on their smartphones for both business and leisure in September 2015, while 7 million accessed the internet via a tablet.

The report also showed that Australians aged 18 and over spent 35 hours on average per month on smartphones, and a little under 26 hours on average per month on tablet devices.

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