The Mobile App Phenomenon and its Impact
It will come to you as a shock, but sources suggest that an average American spends almost 4 hours a day interacting with apps on his/ her smart phone. Thus, it’s only fair to say that apps are taking over our lives, in a good way though. Through this piece, I am making an attempt to highlight how our lives have been ‘applified’ by the apps that we have on our smart phones and how terms like ‘Retargetting & Geo-targetting’ are silently changing the way we live.
Let me use myself as an example. I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels crippled without her mobile phone. Every free minute or second that I have, I’m on it, sometimes checking my Instagram feed or looking for things to do over the weekend on Group on etc. I can leave my apartment without my keys and be less worried about how I’m going to get back in, but God forbid, I forget my phone at home, it turns my world upside down. My borderline anxiety starts kicking in for the fear of losing out, staying out of touch with my friends and family. So, wherever I may be, I find my way back to fetch my phone. That said, it’s imperative to state that I have 23 apps on my phone which I’ve divided into the following categories. These categories are listed in order of priority and the amount of time I spend on each.
- Social Media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Snapchat
- Discounts & Deals : GroupOn
- Health & Beauty: Sephora
- Music Apps: Savn, Gaana, Spotify, Pandora
- Food: Yelp
- Messaging: Whatsapp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger
- Transportation & Navigation: Uber, Lyft, Google maps
- News: Times of India, Apple News
- Reading: Wattpad
- Payment: Venmo, Paypal
The apps that I have on my phone provide huge insights about my personality, preferences, likes and dislikes. Independent research agencies like comScore, Nielsen, SmartInsights, eMarketer, MediaKix, Pew Research Center etc aggregate this kind of information about users to help brands refine their target audience online and maximize their reach without significant spill over. Coming back to the apps on my phone, I can’t possibly pay equal attention to each one listed above, it’s too much work, and I’m already spending 4 hours plus on my phone a day, add another few minutes and I may just have to cut down on my sleep to accommodate my phone-o- mania. So, I’m going to filter this list and tell you the 5 apps that I like the best, use the most and how they have made my life easy.
It has the most relevant content. I can choose the brands and people I like and will receive content only from them. Ads are few and mostly relevant. So, I usually see ads for brands that I may have researched in the past, or have contemplated buying or competing brands in the same category, which means that they use retargeting to reach out to me Ex: I researched about Michael Kors for my earlier blog and am being followed around by it all across the internet, wherever I go. Facebook which is the parent company of Instagram, calls this type of behavioral retargeting ‘Dynamic ads’
Considering that I am new to New York, a lot of my friends recommended that I download this app and honestly, I couldn’t be happier as it tells me about all the major events, sales, discounted salon and restaurant experiences around me. Not just that, it also offers really good deals on them. But the question that arises is -how does GroupOn know what I like to do in my free time? To find the answer, I did a little bit of snooping on the internet and discovered that GroupOn makes huge investments in email marketing. They target certain markets and sends personalized emails to potential clients, sometimes amounting to around 5 billion emails every month. In order to personalize these emails, Groupon collects data such as age, gender, zipcode and what you buy or click on. Once all this data is collected they process it and then know what deals should be sent where or to whom they should be sent. So, they use a mix of retargetting, geo-targeting and email marketing to create the perfect balance for consumers that use the app for deals and business owners that promote their brands on the app.
I love Uber, I mean who doesn’t, its fast, convenient and the pool option really makes traveling economical. Uber can manage this only because of effectively using geo- targeting capabilities that use the rider’s location to match them with the closest possible car. It also lets drivers know which route has minimum traffic and alarms them about accidents or road blocks. Not just that, Uber also uses Geo- fencing that prevents drivers from clogging roads and parking structures close to airports, hospitals, schools and other sensitive areas.
Make up is a girl’s best friend, haven’t heard that one before? Blogger Justina Perro in her blog post titled ‘5 real app examples of killer geo-fencing push notifications’ mentions that she happened to spend almost $300 in response to a push notification she received from the Sephora store on walking past it in Boston. The message to her was an instant reminder of the very many Sephora gift cards she never used, and it was the perfect opportunity to redeem them. Now do you believe me?
- Google Maps:
Google maps has been my savior. It would have been almost impossible for a directionally challenged person like me to navigate the streets of New York City if not for Google Maps. Its precision is par excellence, it gives you the exact route for a particular place by car, train, cab, cycle and foot, or a mix of all of these. It also remembers the places that you went to in the past and suggests locations you are looking for even before you type them out. It tells you the expected time of arrival to your destination and also tells you if you are going to be late. Every evening maps sends me a push notification telling me the best time to head home to beat traffic. It also gives me options of the best bars and eateries around me depending on my location. That’s the magic of geo targeting and geo fencing.