Keys, wallet, mobile: Google’s Tony Keusgen on why marketers need to heed the latest addition to our departure routine

Keys, mobile, wallet. I say these three words to myself every time I leave my house. They’re the three items I can’t afford to forget. Keys were invented around 6,000 years ago in Babylon, and I like to imagine Babylonians patting their tunic and saying “keys” to themselves as they headed out to do their shopping.

5,000 years later, in Tang Dynasty China, paper currency was invented, and with it, wallets. 500 years later, they made it to Europe. “Keys, wallet”, I think Europeans would have said to themselves as they went to go check out the latest cuckoo clocks (invented 1660).

It took another 400 years before this routine was disrupted again: “Keys, wallet, mobile”. That happened sometime between 2008 and today. Clearly, it takes something pretty big to change our doorway routine. So I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to suggest that the smartphone is one of the most significant inventions of the past few hundred years.

Although it’s only just come into our lives, 70 percent of Kiwis already have one. We really use them too, in ways that matter to the economy. Around 90 percent of Kiwi users say they have looked for local information (like shop locations) on their phone, and taken action as a result. And more than three in four of New Zealand smartphone owners use phones while out shopping.

The advent of mobile phones is changing the way we behave, so it’s critical that marketers consider the implications for their own brands.

Two of the key parameters to think about are place and time: what’s the right place to market to someone, and what’s the right time? Mobile is changing these times and places, while at the same time giving us more transparency on what they might be.

The benefits of getting it right are enormous. In Australia, EzyParking uses geo-targeting to market car parks to people within a particular radius of major airports, using AdWords to bid against phrases like “closest parking”. Simple, but hugely effective.

And here in New Zealand, Ford realised that 30 percent of its prospective customers were using smartphones to research new cars. Clearly, the ten minutes someone is spending researching new cars is a pretty valuable time to reach them. That’s because when people search for something, it shows intent. Someone looking for “best new car Dunedin” has something on their mind. That’s the time to offer them a great deal on a new Focus.

Of course, mobiles are new and we’re still learning. But it’s worth putting the time and energy into it, because who knows how many hundred years will pass before we have four things to worry about forgetting.

  • Tony Keusgen is the country director for Google New Zealand. 
  • This column originally appeared in the May/June edition of NZ Marketing. 

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