Apple Moves Mobile Marketing Forward

The headlines talk of new iPhones, an iPad Pro, 3D Touch, Live Photos and software updates, but is there more that marketers take away from Apple’s announcements on Sept. 9?

At the 30,000-foot level, the news of new iPhones, especially at lower prices than for those previously available, is good for brands and businesses of all sizes.

Nearly 7 of 10 mobile users in the United States have smartphones. If history is to be repeated, more will join that group once Apple has the new products for sale in a couple of weeks. And some who have what could be perceived as outdated smartphones could be up for an upgrade.

That makes more consumers more reachable and apt to find excellent user experiences.

But digging deeper, Apple’s most significant changes for the fall have to do with deep-linking capability and ad blocking in iOS 9. And the updated operating system will be available for all iPhones newer than iPhone 5. That includes iPhone 5S and 5C, which are the hands of many mobile users.

iOS 9 is also compatible with all but the first generation of iPad.

Deep linking is a long-sought and soon-to-be valuable way for app makers to provide a link that takes someone to a specific page or section of an app.

For example, if you are an auto manufacturer, you can bring a consumer to a specific car model within an app rather than have the person be taken to the general home screen showing all the vehicles for sale.

Here’s one more: searching for “potatoes” in the search window leads to recipes from third party app Yummly installed on the device.

Apple said that when you adopt deep linking, you will see an “increase in the usage of your app” and an “improvement in discoverability by displaying your content when users search across the system and on the web.”

Why is this important? Beyond the fact that it provides a relevant experience, it facilitates discovery in a very crowded place. iTunes now has over 1.5 million apps in the App Store, and the average user has 119 apps downloaded on an iPhone or iPad.

It even will lead users to find new apps.

As Apple wrote in its developer documents: “Imagine that your app helps users handle minor medical conditions, such as a sunburn or a sprained ankle. When you adopt iOS 9 Search, users searching their devices for “sprained ankle” can get results for your app even when they don’t have your app installed.

“When users tap on a result for your app, they get the opportunity to download your app.

“Similarly, users can get results for your app and related web content when they search for ‘sprained ankle’ in Safari. Tapping on a result in Safari takes users to your website, where they can download your app from your App Banner.”

Like mobile marketing automation, deep linking is an advancement that gets the mobile user to a better, relevant, and more personal experience. Together, you have a win-win situation for a mobile user and for a brand.

Ad blocking may or may not be another story. iOS 9 users will have the ability to turn off ads in the Safari browser.

One question is just how many will do this. Perhaps, quite a few.

It has been reported that there are about 198 million active users of ad blocking technology (primarily on desktops and laptops) around the world.

As Information Week recently said, “By embracing content blocking, Apple may appear to be advancing its own interest at the expense of the Web, a platform that competes with native apps and is not owned by anyone. Apple’s content blocking support in iOS 9 extends only to mobile Safari. Ads in native apps are not affected.”

Ben Kunz, VP of Strategic Planning at Mediassociates, a media planning and buying agency, recently told Digiday that this is actually a good thing for marketers and for mobile users.

“Ad blocking in reality is a self-selection tool in which humans who despise ads won’t have money wasted on them. Surely a marketer who is spending $1 million in digital advertising should be happy she isn’t wasting $300,000 on people who are resistant,” he said.

It is definitely something to monitor closely. We do know that it is all about giving mobile users something that is relevant and personal.