Audience Insight: Mobile Marketing
Written by Marliese Andexer 13 / 06 / 2013
A recent statistic released by trendwatching.com found that 68% of smartphone users were not able to last more than an hour without checking their mobile devices.
For everything, from business interactions to buying a pair of shoes to documenting our latest meal, we turn to our digital platforms. How can arts organisations employ the increasingly consistent use of mobile devices as a tool for experiential immersion at their events?
Using interaction to engage an arts audience is obviously not ground breaking and it is still immensely popular. dreamthinkspeak’s promenade performance In the Beginning was the End occupied Somerset House for two months at the beginning of the year and Punchdrunk’s critically acclaimed Sleep No More, based on Macbeth, has been running in New York since March 2011 and has been praised for its no holds barred approach to throwing the audience into the action. But is there a way to achieve unity between an audience’s physical presence at an event and their insurmountable desire to check their phone every 60 minutes?
The National Gallery of Denmark has taken a step toward combining their audience’s digital interaction with their exhibitions with its new database of 159 downloadable artworks. The gallery encourages online visitors to share and remix the images for whatever purpose they wish, encouraging audience participation with works across multiple online channels. Meanwhile, 1000 kilometres due south in Austria, Project Ingeborg’s yellow sticker initiative in Klagenhurf allows residents and visitors to access a wealth of relevant literature depending on their whereabouts within the city. As they peruse the streets and alleys they can scan QR codes on yellow stickers stuck to certain buildings and places of interest which lead them to a free download of a pertinent text – at the Cathedral you can download a famous play concerning a man’s salvation and at the police station a short story called ‘The Murderer’. These two examples from mainland Europe show how accepting the ubiquitous nature of hand held media can be harnessed to improve and personalise the experience of an audience.
Closer to home, the Science Museum’s augmented reality Science Stories app has garnered positive reviews since its release earlier this year. The app renders a miniature James May on your phone or tablet when you point the camera at a marker on certain exhibits’ plinths. The tiny May then gives you a run down of why the exhibition is important and even quizzes you at the end to ensure you’ve been listening. Using an app in the Science Museum is, of course, quite fitting but it shows how the means with which we communicate with our audiences once they are through the door is just as important as how we communicate with them beforehand.
We may be a long way off from letting people use their phones in the theatre but embracing the fact that the announcement ‘please turn off all mobile phones’ is largely ignored may influence and inform the way we let our audiences interact with the arts and culture around them.