Mobile is the most transformative shift in marketing since the invention of money. Or maybe language.

That might sound like a bold statement, but it is undeniably true. How do we know? The data tells us – clearly and without bias.

To get a sense of how important mobile is, my colleagues and I at VB Insight – the research arm of VentureBeat – have spent 3.5 years analysing the marketing technology landscape, with a focus on mobile-first and mobile- only solutions over the last two years.

In our latest study, we surveyed 1,000 consumers to understand the current state of mobile usage, gathered data from 1,512 mobile developers with over two billion users among them and examined the results of almost 14 billion mobile ads, as well as analysing 1.8 million apps in Android’s Google Play and the iOS App Store.

And according to the results of this study, the smartphone is now so fundamental to the daily lives of consumers that it can no longer be seen as an optional channel. That’s a big problem because marketers are telling us – equally clearly – that they are just not ready for mobile right now.

Let’s address why the smartphone is so important, and then we’ll dig into what can be done to leverage the opportunity.

In total, 87 percent of our respondents agree that a smartphone is always – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – within arm’s reach. We are truly in the age of the mobile consumer, and the smartphone is the device that they turn to, unlocking it on average over 200X a day.

Consumers use a smartphone for everything. They pay for goods and services with them, both through the likes of Apple Wallet, Apple Pay, Android Pay, Google Wallet, Samsung Pay, Venmo, PayPal, YoYo Wallet, and other payment apps, as well as via mobile commerce (mcommerce) websites.


They use them to talk to friends, share their lives on social media, and organise group meetings. They talk directly to brands with them via messaging apps and chatbots. They use them to play games, listen to music, watch TV shows and movies, and stay up-to-date with their favourite pastimes. They use them to take photos, record video, live stream content and capture the world around them. They use them for business and pleasure. Importantly, smartphones are used extensively for research, before, during, and after any purchase, and especially in a retail context.

In fact, smartphones influenced $500 billion of sales in 2016, and $140 billion of that total includes purchases made on a smartphone through mcommerce sites.

None of this is slowing down.

Conversational UI, including AI-powered chatbots and voice control solutions such as Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, and Amazon Alexa (which will debut on smartphones with the Huawei Mate 9 in 2017), will accelerate the use of smartphones for every aspect of modern life. As will virtual/mixed reality, and other hardware add-ons, such as the recently launched Spectacles from Snap Inc.

To leverage these mobile channels and destinations, marketers need to have a solid understanding of how marketing to a highly personal, 4 to 5-inch screen is wildly different to any other digital or traditional property, and make sure that mobile is front and centre when it comes to their entire marketing strategy. As you’ll see next, that is simply not the case.

Mobile marketing – according to those responsible for it – is a siloed activity. That is a worry because the same organisations that told us how fragmented mobile marketing is also told us that they agree on its importance and that they will be increasing mobile marketing budgets next year.

More than half of our mobile marketing respondents are putting 26 percent or more of their entire marketing budget toward mobile. In fact, close to 30 percent are dedicating over half their marketing budget to mobile. 1. 2. 3.

The problem?

60 percent of respondents told us that mobile marketing is broken. Of those, three main challenges stand out. Respondents said that mobile is ‘tacked on’ at the end of campaign development, that it is siloed as a channel strategy, and that they lack the in-house expertise.

The future customer is mobile – that is clear. If organisations wish to leverage the mobile marketplace, however, they need to find new ways to communicate between the marketing, business, and product/engineering teams, and bring mobile into the overall marketing strategy rather than adding it on at the end as an afterthought.


  1. Mobile is personal. Is your marketing engineered to deliver personal messages and communications to your customers?
  2. Don’t tack on mobile marketing as a separate channel. Bring mobile into your overall marketing strategy.
  3. Eliminate barriers between your sales, marketing and product teams that might limit the effectiveness of your mobile marketing efforts
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