Four headaches the iPhone has given content marketers

July 3rd, 2017

It feels like it has been with us forever, but the Apple iPhone actually celebrated its tenth birthday last week. In that time, it has gone from being the preserve of nerdy Apple die-hards to the must have gadget for consumers across the globe.

One interesting part of the iPhone story that has been a little forgotten is that it didn’t especially have the easiest of launches. Apple had dabbled with creating phones before the iPhone with very mixed results. Then when the iPhone actually appeared once the reviewers had finished eulogising about its amazing touch screen they noticed that when it came to the basics, the new Apple handset was technically a long way behind its rivals. It lacked 3G and video recording – features that had been staples on European phones for years.

Nevertheless, the beauty of the interface, coupled with the fact that Apple not only caught up technologically but pushed ahead of many of its rivals meant that by its third iteration, the iPhone 3G, Apple had a world beater.

It is hard to underestimate how much the iPhone, and the subsequent development of the Android platform by Google, have shaped the world we now live in. It was the catalyst that changed everything from the way we communicate to the way we shop. The growth of the smartphone has also transformed content marketing and accelerated the way that branded content has shifted from print to online.

It is also fair to say that the iPhone revolution has caused content marketers a few headaches too. Of course, I am not being entirely serious here, but without the iPhone here are four things marketers possibly wouldn’t have had to worry about.

1 – It changed the way we consume content – Back in 2007 the figures for use of the mobile web were so small they are almost off the radar. Now Zenith is predicting that by 2019 almost a third of the content we consume will be via the mobile internet dwarfing time spent on radio, newspaper and desktop PCs. Only TV consumes more of our time. For content creators, both in traditional publishing and the marketing worlds, this has proved a major headache. For years now companies have battled to get the formula right to ensure that their websites and blogs are optimised for both desktop and mobile. More recently we have seen innovations such as Google’s AMP project harness technology to ensure that mobile pages load quickly and easily. Brands and the media are still arguably only starting address this.

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2 – It gave us the challenge of the app – It soon became pretty clear that the secret sauce that was driving the iPhone was its apps. This also presented problem for marketers. Should brands have their own apps? And If so where should content feature on that app? It also creates issues around how content that is housed on the app is promoted and discovered. In many ways, these are issues that marketers are still wrestling with. Should you invest in an app, or focus on the mobile web? Have consumers got app fatigue? Or is the new breed of web apps the right way to go?

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3 – It gave a massive boost to UGC – User generated content was a buzzword way before the iPhone launch. In fact, YouTube was already establishing itself as the key video portal by 2007. However, the iPhone has clearly turned us into a world of camera and video obsessives. From selfies through to live video we are creating huge amounts of content. So where do brands fit into this? One issue is that there is now so much content that brands have to ensure that what they produce is of the highest quality to get attention. Also, how should brands harness user generated context? There have been many great UGC campaigns from brands but plenty of disasters too. It has taken us years to work out how to get the balance right.

4 – It made us obsessed with the future – One of the scariest things about the iPhone is the way that it disrupted the media so rapidly. Brands and platforms rise quickly and then and disappear seemingly overnight. Who remembers MySpace and Bebo, and even more recent innovations like Foursquare? As Dale Lovell UK MD of native advertising innovator Adyoulike said “the technology is constantly changing. Across the globe the rise of Smartphones is not just changing consumer habits, but changing lives – access to information and communication has never been easier, or so fast. We are at the dawn of how these major technology changes are going to impact society in the years to come.”

Although it has created many issues for marketers we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the iPhone has also yielded incredible opportunities too. It is now possible to reach consumers across the world, on their personalised device instantly. The growth of social media largely abetted by the iPhone has given brands reach and scale they could only ever dream about.

So maybe not just problems after all…

Commissioned by The CMA

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